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The Skeleton Closet

Whaling Boats in South Australia

There were a number of the Whaling boats and Sealers that operated in South Austalian waters in the very early days of the colony, this list is just some of them and it also includes a few from before colonisation.

In 1808 the sloop Eliza returned to Sydney from Kangaroo Island on 9 April with 500 seal and 1,000 kangaroo skins.

The Endearvour of Norfolk Island was used as a sealer in 1810

Elizabeth and Mary extracted salt and 2,500 seal skins from Kangaroo Island in 1811-1812

Spring under commander William Bunster took 40 tons of salt and 6,000 seal and kangaroo skins from Kangaroo Island in 1814-1815.

Little Mary a 60 ton schooner built in Mauritius commanded by Josiah James took 3,300 seal skins and 4,700 kangaroo skins from Kangaroo Island in 1819-1820

Minerva a brig of 155 tons built in America commanded by Duncan Forbes took 70 tons of salt, 8,200 fur seal skins and 300 kangaroo skins from Kangaroo Island in 1823-1824.

Madeira Packet a schooner of 108 tons built in Dpetford in 1818 commanded by William McMeekan took 1,500 skins of various types from Kangaroo Island in 1828-1829 and left her at "the Sealing Grounds" on the Island while she visited the whaling station at King George Sound.

Campbell's boat 1830 - A boat associated with a sealing party active on Thistle Island near Pt Lincoln. This boast was commanded by John Campbell and on 4 April 1839 had discussions at close quarters with the Dart which was looking for the remains of the Charles Sturt Murray River expedition.

Henry 1832 - left Van Diemans Land for Kangaroo Island with stores for the whaling station there in June and returned in September with 13 tons of whale oil and 47 bundles of whale bone. She visite the Island again in 1833 takeing 5 passengers including a John Sinclair to the whaling station.

ELizabeth 1831 commanded by John Hart she left Launceston in October and returned a month later from Kangaroo Island with 52 bundles of whale bone and 23 tuns of oil. She also carried a passener, Mt Trimlett on the return trip.

Meredith's Whaleboat and Defiance - Defiance was a schooner of 24 ton commanded by George Meredith Jnr. in 1833-1834. She left Sydney on a sealing trip in September 1833 and was wrecked on Howe's Island. A Mr James Manning was either a crewman or passenger on this voyage, and when the ship was wrecked he accompanied the commander, a man named Jacob Seaman and a native woman names Sal to Kangaroo Island in a whaleboat which had been cargo on the ship, reaching the Island in February 1834. Meredith was later found murdered at Yankalilla on the mainland near Cape Jervis by a native boy. The whaleboat was taken to Encounter Bay and used by the natives there for sealing and fishing.

Roberts' Whaleboat 1834 - used in whaling pursuits by George Roberts on Long Island (Thistle Island now). In November 1834 this boat was used to abduct five native women and two men from near Boston Bay, taking them back to Long Island, where the two native men, believed to have been the husbands of the women, were murdered.

Anderson's Whaleboat - used by John Anderson, John Bathurst and a native man to sail from Long Island to Kangaroo Island and return in Spetember 1834. On the return voyage, they took a mand named John Manning with them.

William - a cutter of 17 tons used by William Wright in 1835 and built at Launceston in 1833, for sealing and whaling purposes. This is the vessel that was chartered to the South Australia Company at Nepean Bay on 21 December 1836 for a twelve month period.

Whaleboats in use in 1836

Whale boats were hired and/or borrowed from the Kangaroo Island sealers and whalers to meet the newly arrived ships carrying emigrants to the colony. Unnameed craft of this type were used to meet the John Pirie on 16 August; to visit Salt Lagoon with Samuel Stephens and Captain Martin on 18 August; to look for deserters from the crew of the Lady Mary Pelham; on 20 August, to take Samuel Stephens to the Lady Mary Pelham; and to meet the Rapid on 21 August.

A Mr Thompson was paid £1.15 on 23 August for the hire of his boat

These boats were used extensively during the first months of life in South Australia.

Walker's Whaleboat could often be seen in St Vincent Gulf in 1837.

Bradley's Whaleboat frequently sailed between Kangaroo Island and holdfast Bay in 1837.

Stephen's Whaleboat (this might have been the one hired by Samuel Stephens from William Wright) was used to ferry the owner of the grounded William Hutt, Mr. H. French from the ship to the shore at Nepean Bay on 15 January 1837.