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Sleaford Bay (Fishery Bay)


Zone 53 
Map 6028 
E 562800 - N 6136600 
GPS position: 05 62 632" E - 61 6 77" N 
Also known as the Sleaford Bay Fishery Site or the Fishery Bay Whaling Station , the site is located approximately 35 km south west of Port Lincoln. Sleaford Bay is about 1 kilometre wide and opens to the south east. The Bay is rocky at the East side with a long white sand beach and limestone cliffs all around. 


Aerial photograph including Tryworks area at bottom and living area at centre top in the sand dunes (Courtesy: Mapland)

Sleaford Bay is also known as the Fishery Bay whaling station. It is assumed that Sleaford Bay was established by 1837 when the schooner Siren was reported in the South Australian Register to have departed Port Adelaide for Sleaford Bay. By July 1839, only 4 whales had been taken from Sleaford Bay (Kostoglou & McCarthy, 1991, p17). 
The station operated under the ownership of Messrs Hack and Company and the Company of South Australia forming what became known as the United Fishing Company of Adelaide. During the first season, 1500 gallons of oil and three ton of whale bone were obtained. This insufficient yield was blamed on inexperienced headsmen and constantly deserting boat crew members.  
Despite the increase to 3400 gallons of oil being shipped to Port Adelaide, the South Australian Company sold off all its interests in the black whale industry in 1841, causing Hack and company (who failed to compete with the arrival of a Sydney whaler during the 1841 season) to eventually sell off what remained including both the Rosetta Head an Sleaford Bay whaling stations. The station was occupied for a further 3 to 4 months in 1843, but was then abandoned completely. (Kostoglou & McCarthy, 1991, p17 & 21) 

The station is composed of two separate sites each employing different tasks. 
Site A was used predominantly for accommodation and was situated to the west of the station. Among the remains at the site were seven building foundations within an area of 62 x 5 metres dominated by thick coastal scrubland. Artefacts recovered from site A included scatters of handmade red clay bricks, pieces of whale bone and two lengths of hoop iron. (Kostoglou & McCarthy, 1991, p17) 
Site B was a processing facility for whale carcasses and was located to the east of the station. Located at site B was a large sandy platform identified as the flensing and trying out facility for the station. Located at site B included an extensive charcoal lens which sustained utilization of the facility for a number of seasons. (Kostoglou & McCarthy, 1991, p17) 


Among the artefacts recovered from the survey by Flinders University in 1997 were: hoop iron, try works, butchered bones and clay bricks giving evidence of a shore based whaling enterprise at Sleaford Bay. other artefacts recovered included bon and charcoal and stone tools suggesting Aboriginal occupation and blue and white transfer printed ceramic and earthenware providing more evidence of European occupation. 

The site is threatened by a couple of factors; the first being physical damage with obvious amounts of human interference around the site with bricks being moved around and dug up from the site. Th second is environmental damage as the sea continues to erode the remains at the site such as the try works. 


Kostoglou, P. and McCarthy, J. 1991. Whaling and Sealing Sites in South Australia, Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Special Publication No:6, p17-21. 

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. 

Bradbury, G., Consoli, S., Copland, G., Mathhews, S., and Southwood, J. 1997. Field Trip Report on Whaling Station Sites on eyre Peninsula: Fishery Bay, Archaeological Field Methods Arch 7002 & Arch 8002, Flinders University of SA. 

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 
Vol 22, 1920-1921 
Th Annual Address of the President -  "Whaling at Encounter Bay" 
     "Report on Whaling in South Australia" 

Report on the Hart, Hagan and Baker Committee, South Australia, 4/1/1842. 

First Report of the Director of the South Australian Company 
SA Company 1st Report, 1837 
SA Company 3rd Report, 1839 
SA Company 4th Report, 1840 

The South Australian Magazine, November 1841, No:5, Vol 1. 
"Port Lincoln and its Neighbourhood" Neales Bentham 

South Australian Company Records, BRG 42, p17. 
SA Company Records (quoted in Thomas, p8) 
SA Company Records (quoted in Morphett, p7) 

SAA Research Notes #67 "Notes on Sleaford Bay." 

South Australian Register,  12/6/1839 
South Australian Register, 7/8/1839 
South Australian Register, 1/5/1841 
South Australian Register, 2/6/1844 
South Australian Register, 23/7/1842 
South Australian Register, 9/5/1842 
South Australian Register, 26/3/1842 

By Rebecca O' Reilly 

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Mark. Staniforth@flinders.edu.au