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Whaling in Van Dieman's Land

An active whale-ship took part in the foundation of Van Diemen's Land, Bowen sailed to Risdon Cove with two ships, the Lady Nelson and the hired whaler Albion, a vessel commanded by famous Captain Ebor Bunker. Observing Sperm whales on the voyage, Captain Bunker, captured no less than three whales before the whaler Albion arrived in the River Derwent on September 12th 1803 anchoring in Risdon Cove.

William Collins, a naval man, came out with Lieutenant-Colonel Collins and was the first harbour master of Hobart Town, initiating Bay whaling almost immediately after settlement. During the first winter and spring large numbers of Southern Right whales swarmed the Derwent estuary, pregnant mothers would shelter in the bays all along the coast to give birth to their young, others whales were heading for the breeding-grounds.

The first whale killed in the River Derwent was claimed by Jorgen Jorgensen in 1804. Jorgensen, an adventurer and once “King of Iceland”, was mate of the English whaling ship the Alexander. Jorgensen wrote:

“I can boast of being the first to kill a whale in the Derwent. Had its brothers and sisters been warned by the violent death to which their near relative was thus subjected, I would have little hope of living in the grateful remembrance of future whalers; but the contrary is the case, for the destruction of one apparently attracted many hundred of others ... and the rising City of Hobart Town is yearly and rapidly become enriched on the oleaginous remains."

William Collins, established the first whaling station in Van Diemen's Land in 1806 at Ralphs Bay on the eastern side of the River Derwent, other whaling stations were soon established at Tinder Box Bay, Trumpeter Bay and Adventure Bay, with many more stations established shortly after.

Whaling in Van Diemen's Land reached it's peak during the 1830's and Hobart Town prospered.

 

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