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South Australian Projects

Encounter Bay


Zone 54
Map 6626
Police Point: E 284500 - N 6062500 (Victor Harbor township)
Encounter Bay New Fishery: E 285500 - N 6061700 (Granite Island)
Rosetta Head: E 282500 - N 6059000 (The Bluff)
All of the Encounter Bay whale fisheries are located within the foreshore area of the Victor Harbor township. 


The whale fishery established at the three locations in Victor Harbor - Police Point, Granite Island and Rosetta Head was the most successful  shore based whaling station in south Australia and the longest surviving of all the stations (Kostoglou & McCarthy, 1991, p41).During the early months of 1837, preparations to establish a whale fishery at Encounter Bay were  being made by the South Australian Company. Two Encounter Bay whaling stations were established early.  One of the stations, the Rosetta Head (located at the Bluff) fishery was established in February 1837 by Mr Stephens and the South Australian Company and named after George Fifie Angasí wife, north of the Bluff. The second station  was established by Captain Blekinslopp at Police Point (located at Granite Island) in April 1837. The Police Point station was purchased by the Hack brothers after Captain Blekinslopp drowned and with the failure of the Rosetta Head whaling station, the two fisheries combined. In 1839, the South Australian Company withdrew from the Black whale fishery at Victor Harbor and Hagen and Hart purchased the Encounter Bay stations of Police Point and Rosetta Head.

In 1843, the arrival of a new fishery called "Encounter Bay New Fishery" was established adjacent to the stations owned by Hagan and Hart. The new whaling station was operated by Messrs Wheland, Wilde and Howard, with Mr Baker joining the company in 1845. With a bad year in 1846 for both companies at Encounter Bay, the Hagan and Hart partnership dissolved. Both companies, like all those employed at Encounter Bay, were fierce rivals and at one time the crew from Hagen and Hartís station attempted to steal a whale already harpooned by the Wilde, Howard and Baker station.

The Bay was fished until 1854 with unsteady years regarding partners and income. Captain Hart remained until 1850, and in 1855 the station did not re-open and a purchaser did not come forward. A final attempt to re-open the fishery took place by Mr Ranford in 1871/72, but closed just as quickly with the capture of only one whale.
The companies that operated the whale fisheries (or whale gangs as they were known) were fierce rivals since the establishment of the first two stations between Police Point and Rosetta Head. The competition was first experienced when Captain Blekinsloppís proposal to join the two whaling stations at Police Point and Rosetta Head was refused by Mr Stephens in 1837, with the intention to reduce competition between the two companies.

Register 1838, p3 col 4.
"We hear from Encounter Bay that the fishery had been quite as successful as anticipated. The boats of the South Australian Company had secured about 120 tuns and those of Mr Wright above 100 tuns. The season was considered only half over. The Goshawk had arrived, and was at anchor in Victor Harbor, preparing the take in oil for England..."

Register 14 August 1841, p3 col3.
"...Our whaling has not succeeded so well this season as on some former years, although there is time enough yet for the season to be made a good one. The Adelaide party has secured eleven fish, and besides these have lost four, which they had killed in one day..."

Register 4 June 1842, p3 col2.
"Information has just been received from Encounter Bay that Messrs Hart and Hagenís party have this week taken four whales..."

Observer, 1891, p41 col3.
"...At Encounter Bay 134 tuns of oil and 6 tons of bon were obtained, valued at 3,102 pounds, the expenses were estimated at 2,084 pounds leaving a profit of 1,018 pounds..."


No physical evidence  remain of the early whaling stations at Encounter Bay.  The sites have been continuously occupied since their abandonment. Police Point whaling station is now the Victor Harbor township and the Encounter Bay New Fishery station was altered by the construction harbor works in 1880.  The Rosetta Head station  has been less developed. 


Kostoglou, P. and McCarthy, J. 1991. Whaling and Sealing Sites in South Australia, Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Special Publication No:6, p 40-44.

Register, 1838
Register, 14 August 1841
Register, 4 June 1842
Observer, 1891

By Rebecca O'Reilly

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