Topographic map, the Fowlers Bay Whaling Station
is situated on Point Fowler (Courtesy: Mapland)
E 257800 - N 6457500
On 28 January 1802 Matthew Flindersí
vessel, Investigator, anchored in Fowlers Bay, which he named after his
first Lieutenant, Robert Fowler. The following is a description given by
"The cliffs and rocks of Point
Fowler are calcareous, and connected with the mainland by a low, sandy
isthmus of half a mile broad. No fresh water was discovered around the
shores of the bay, nor was there any wood large enough for fuel, near than
the brow of a hill two or three miles off...Fowlers Bay, however, may be
useful to a ship in want of a place of shelter" (Flinders, 1802).
In 1840, the two American whaling
ships Martha and Amazon arrived and anchored at Fowlers Bay between 10
June and 28 August 1840. Both vessel left the Bay on 10 September 1840,
the Amazon killing 41 whales during the period at anchor. From this catch,
33 Right Whales and 8 Humpback Whales.
John Eyre arrived at Fowlers Bay
on 17 November 1840 and used the location as a starting point for his attempts
to overland to Western Australia. His description follows:
"Upon walking round the shore
of Fowlers Bay, I found them liberally strewed in all directions with the
bones and carcasses of whales which had been taken here by the American
ship I saw at Port Lincoln, and had been washed ashore by waves. To judge
from the great number of these remains...the Americans must have had a
most fortunate and successful season."
At present there have no evidence
about the presence of whalers at Fowlers Bay during the 1841 and 1842 seasons,
however Parsons quotes a report which stated that in 1840 "four French
and one American (whaler) fished between this (Port Lincoln) and Fowlers
Bay" and in 1841 six foreign whalers were reported in the same area (Parsons,
In 1843 the Hobart whalers George
Cummings and Richard Harris are reported to have made an overland journey
from a "whaling station at Fowlers Bay" on their way to Port Lincoln.
The following is a report from the South Australian Register 16 December
"On Saturday last it was stated
in this journal that two whalers, just arrived at Port Lincoln from Fowlers
Bay...Richard Harris...in the end of August last, along, with his mate
George Cummings performed the arduous journey from a whaling station at
Fowlers Bay to Port Lincoln. Calculating the distance at 200 mils, and
that they would get supplies at Peters Island and Streaky Bay, where there
were whaling stations, they took with them ten days provisions. At Peters
Island they got a chart of the coast which was of great service...(The
three whaling stations mentioned above were occupied by parties from Hobart
Town, from which our travelers had last come) South Australian Register,
16 December 1843.
Two distinct sites are associated
with whaling at Fowlers Bay station. One of these sits was a sand spit
in the western corner of the bay which revealed a large collection of whale
bone. The second site was a D shaped dry stone shelter which was located
on the end of Point Fowler, this might have been the look out point for
the whaling station. Some evidence was located including whale bone but
very little material could be linked to the whaling period. Iron material,
including two large wrought iron spikes, a triangular shafted iron rod
and a scatter of iron.
Credland, A.G. 1988. "Captain Richard
Copping of Hobart Town", Great Circle, Vol 10 (1): 22-32.
Eyre, J. 1840.
Faull, J. 1988. Life on the Edge:
the far west coast of South Australia. The District Council of Murat Bay,
Kostoglou, P. and Mccarthy, J. 1991.
Whaling and Sealing Sites in South Australia, Australian Institute for
Maritime Archaeology, Special Publication No:6.
Parsons, 1981, p23
Staniforth, M - A brief history
of Fowlers Bay (to 1860)
Staniforth, M. (nd) Three whaling
station sites on the west coast of South Australia - Fowlers Bay, Sleaford
Bay and Streaky Bay, Flinders University of SA.
South Australian Register,
By Rebecca O'Reilly
South Australian Whaling Site Index