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History of shore-based whaling


Excavation of main building at the Adventure Bay whaling station

Excavation of main building at
the Adventure Bay whaling station
(Susan Lawrence - La Trobe University)

The importance of the role played in Tasmania's development by the shore based whaling industry prompted the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service to carry out a thematic historical and archaeological survey of the industry. The principal objective of the project was to provide the necessary information to enable the appropriate conservation, interpretation and management strategies to be developed. The project was undertaken during 1993 and 1994 with the aid of funding from the National Estate Grant Program, administered by the Australian Heritage Commission.

The initial historical research component of the project identified references to over 100 shore based whaling stations around the Tasmanian coastline. The second phase of the project focussed on the archaeological survey and recording of whaling station sites identified during the historical research which had actually been built and could be located. In all, 52 whaling station sites were located during the fieldwork phase.

Whaleboat on slips, Twofold Bay
(Rene Davidson Collection)

The remains of the located whaling stations ranged from substantial, well preserved ruins, to sites which have little or no remaining structure that are present only as impacts on the surrounding landscape. The more substantial sites are typically represented by a series of architectural features relating to the residential and production areas of the station such as chimney bases and trypot nests.

In 1997, Kelly & Lucas' Adventure Bay whaling station, located on Bruny Island was the focus of archaeological excavations carried out by a collaborative team from La Trobe and Flinders Universities. The results of this extensive excavation have assisted in the interpretation, conservation and management of this heavily visited site by the Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania. Another whaling station at Lagoon Bay, on Tasmania's east coast, was excavated by La Trobe University in 1999.