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Point Collinson

There was a Hobart based whaling station at Streaky Bay during the 1843 and probably several subsequent seasons. The 262 ton brigantine Camilla (Captain
Gardiner) which had supplied the whaling station for the 1843 and 1844 seasons was driven ashore in Streaky Bay on 28 April 1844 and eventually became a total
loss 

Site Description

In April 1997 a small group of staff, honours students and volunteers from Flinders University conducted a predisturbance survey of the archaeological material at Point Collinson (De Lieuen et al 1997). Kostaglou and McCarthy have previously documented the existence of a whaling station at Point Collinson (Kostoglou & McCarthy 1991:7-10).

The area has a scatter of material including hoop iron, whale bone, ceramic, black glass bottle and clay pipe fragments all of which date to approximately the 1840s. Only one habitation site was found which was a pile of local calcarenite stone and bricks 2.5m by 2 m interestingly with window glass - interestingly because the site is located on the exposed front side of the dune system (in the wind etc) yet is likely to be a habitation site because of the presence of the window glass. 

Artefacts

Copper alloy sheathing and sheathing tacks were located at Point Collinson (see image below). The author has previously noted this type of material at the whaling station site at Yanerbie and Gibbs reports it on the Cheyne Beach site in Western Australia (Gibbs 1995:282 & 485 Plate C.1). The issue which arises from the presence of copper alloy sheathing and tacks is the question of whether the whale boats were drawn up onto the beach or were moored for long periods of time in the water. The presence of sheathing suggests that mooring may have been the preferred option and this has consequences in terms of the extent and nature of underwater remains in the vicinity of whaling stations - in the form of some form of permanent or semi-permanent mooring system which may leave archaeological traces to the present day.

Copper or copper alloy sheathing
(Photo Mark Staniforth)

 
During field surveys in the general area around the Point Collinson site clear evidence of Aboriginal usage of black glass bottles was found at two sites - one seven hundred metres north and another 3 km west of the site.This brings up the whole issue of indigenous/white relations at what are clearly the sites of first contact along this whole region of the South Australian coast. Unfortunately the distance of the material from the site, the presence of Edward John Eyre in the area some years before and the fact that that no excavations have been conducted means that no unequivocal evidence of indigenous presence actually at the whaling station site has been located. 

 Site conservation and management issues

Parts of the whaling station site at Point Collinson are under threat from the activities of four wheel drive vehicles and their owners who appear to regularly visit the area. Furthermore significant amounts of broken glass, ammunition and plastic were observed during the survey work.

Discussion

The identification of the Point Collinson site as a whaling station in operation during the 1840s on the basis of the archaeological evidence is considered without doubt. However the issue of whether the Point Collinson site is the one and only 'Streaky Bay' whaling station is much more open to question. Kostaglou and McCarthy (1991:11-12) have suggested that there may be another whaling station site at Point de Mole (also within Streaky Bay) where staff of the State Heritage
Branch located 'the remains of a stone hut' during a visit in 1996 (Arnott pers comm). The possibility of a third whaling station at the mouth of Acraman Creek (also in Streaky Bay) was suggested by Kostaglou and McCarthy but is considered by the author to be highly unlikely (Kostaglou and McCarthy (1991:13). 

One of the interesting points about the historical descriptions of the Streaky Bay whaling station is the presence of at least two women - Mrs Gardiner (wife of Captain Gardiner master of the Camilla during 1844) and Mrs Luttrell (wife of Mr Luttrell who was in charge of one of the whale boats during 1845) as well as Mrs Luttrell's 'little girl'.


 

1.Green transfer printed earthenware.
(Photo: Mark Staniforth)


 

2.Polychrome transfer printed earthenware
(Photos: Mark Staniforth)
 

More Point Collinson Information

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Created and maintained by Mark Staniforth and Nathan Richards.
Please send your comments about the AWSANZ project to...
S.Lawrence@latrobe.edu.au
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Mark. Staniforth@flinders.edu.au