Davidson Whaling Station | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Davidson Whaling Station

Item details

Name of item: Davidson Whaling Station
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Maritime Industry
Category: Whaling Station
Location: Lat: -37.1117033075 Long: 149.9157362770
Primary address: 35km South Of, Eden, NSW 2551
Parish: Kiah
County: Auckland
Local govt. area: Bega Valley
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Eden
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT50 DP1186363
LOT10 DP1200475
LOT41 DP750213
LOT52 DP750213
LOT61 DP750213
LOT62 DP750213
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
35km South OfEdenBega ValleyKiahAucklandPrimary Address
 Twofold BayBega ValleyKiahAucklandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Office of Environment and HeritageState Government28 Jul 97

Statement of significance:

Davidson Whaling Station is of State significance. It was the longest operating whaling station in Australia and the last of its type to close down. It has associations with the 19th century shore-based whaling industry of south east Australia and with the Imlay brothers, Benjamin Boyd, Oswald Brierly, the Davidson and Boyd families and the Aboriginal whalers and their families.

Although some of the structures are no longer extant, the remaining features reflect the original use of the site as a whaling station. Later additions associated with the Boyd occupation are of a lesser significance, representing the rural retreat of professional people.

The entire site is relatively undisturbed and has high archaeological potential to contribute information on shore-based whaling, Aboriginal and European contact and 20th century alternative lifestyles. The site with its small cottage buildings, fruit trees and garden flowers, and overlooking the tryworks and Kiah Inlet, has an undisturbed sense of history (NSW National Parks 1995: 5).
Date significance updated: 13 May 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1896-1896
Physical description: Davidson Whaling Station is located on the southern shore of Twofold Bay, 35km by road south of Eden on Kiah Inlet at the mouth of the Towamba River. The buildings still existing on the site comprise the cottage 'Loch Garra', the detached kitchen/dining room which may have pre-dated the cottage, a garden shed and a shower shed built by the Boyds.

The buildings are of timber construction with traditional weatherboards or timber slab external cladding and corrugated iron roofing.

Remnants of the Davidson's gardens include the collapsed and overgrown fences of the orchard to the east of the cottage garden and the lawn outside the garden fence. This section also includes an old dam. The existing garden, a creation of the Boyds,

Only fragments of the brick footings and fireplace, some roofing timbers and three ship's tanks used as pots for the storage and transport of whale blubber remain on the site.

The remainder of the site consists of an open woodland of woollybutt and silver-top ash on the exposed ridge, with a moist forest of black wattle and pittosporum in the gullies and monkey gum with bracken undergrowth on the slopes above Kiah Inlet.

Historic artefacts occur throughout the site.

A number of Aboriginal middens have been recorded. One is located under the brick footings of the tryworks and extends towards the inlet. Another, located above the cottages, is known to have been the site of a women's camp during the whaling period. A large midden is located on the headland and isolated shells and artefects are scattered throughout the site.

A shield tree, now dead, is enclosed in situ within the storage compound. (NSW National Parks 1995: 3, 8-12)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Archaeological Potential - High
Date condition updated:28 Jul 97
Current use: National Park
Former use: Aboriginal land, Whaling Station

History

Historical notes: Shore based whaling at Twofold Bay began in 1828 and was undertaken by numerous whaling groups, the main ones being the Imlay brothers, Benjamin Boyd and the Davidson family. Old open boat techniques were in continuous use at Twofold Bay for over 100 years.

The Davidson family began whaling around 1860. A tryworks for boiling down the blubber was built inside Kiah Inlet, possibly on the site of an earlier tryworks, where whales could be drawn up on a sandy beach. In 1896 George Davidson built the cottage, Loch Garra, above the tryworks on 17 acres of leasehold land. This land now comprises the majority of the historic site. In 1920 when Davidson applied to convert his leasehold to free title his holding consisted of a cleared, partly fenced area with a 6 room weather-board house, detached kitchen, workshop, established orchard, garden, and dam. Further outbuildings and additions to the cottage were added later.

Until the first decade of the twentieth century, whaling was carried out almost full time from the station by Alexander Davidson, his son John and grandson George. A catch of 10-15 whales each season was reported. After that time whaling became an opportunistic activity with George Davidson undertaking farming and grazing on the site to buffer the whaling station against fluctuations in the market and uneven seasonal catches. By 1925 the enire catch for the season was reported at 2 whales.

In 1927 Davidson Whaling Station was described by Professor Dakin, an early authority on the marine biology of the Australian coastline, as dating from Melville's time, using the technologies of 'the old bay whalers of the 1840s'.In 1929 the last Whale was caught at Twofold Bay. The Davidsons moved from the station in the 1940s.

Dr and Mrs Boyd, who purchased the property for a private residence in 1954, replanted much of the garden area and made further additions to the cottage.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Other open space-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Lakes and wetlands supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Yuin Nation - Continuing traditional knowledge-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Aboriginal post-contact-May include sites of contact with Europeans, conflict, resistance, interaction and urban life.
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Private farming-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Fishing-Activities associated with gathering, producing, distributing, and consuming resources from aquatic environments useful to humans. (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Fishing-Activities associated with gathering, producing, distributing, and consuming resources from aquatic environments useful to humans. Whaling and sealing for commercial gain-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Fishing-Activities associated with gathering, producing, distributing, and consuming resources from aquatic environments useful to humans. Hunting whales-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Fishing-Activities associated with gathering, producing, distributing, and consuming resources from aquatic environments useful to humans. Hunting whales-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Factories-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Agisting and fattening stock for slaughter-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Davidson, whaler-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alexander Davidson, whaler-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Davidson, whaler-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Davidson (Jr.), whaler, farmer, grazier-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Dr and Mrs Boyd, Eden residents-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Davidson whaling station is the longest operating whaling station in Australia and the last o its type to close down. It has associations with the 19th century whaling industry in Australia and the shore based whaling industry of the south east coast of Australia. The station is associated with the Davidson family, and through that family and its activities, it had associations with benjamin Boyd, Oswald Brierly and the Imlay brothers during the 1830s and 1840s.

Whaling at Twofold Bay utilised Aboriginal labour to a remarkable extant throughout its 100 years of operation. From the mid 19th century there is historical evidence of a combination of traditional Aboriginal and European whaler lifestyles among the Aborigines engaged in whaling.

Davidson Whaling Station is one of few shore based whaling stations in Australia with in situ remains. These include the remains of the tryworks, the cottage and living quarters, some components of the garden and many artefacts from the whaling period.

The cottage and kitchen building provide evidence of a lengthy European occupation of the site, and in particular, direct reference to the occupation of the site by the Davidson (1860s - 1940s) and Boyd (1952-1984) families.

Davidson Whaling Station was associated with several other whaling sies around Twofold Bay such as Boydtown, Boyds Tower and East Boyd.

In addition to its whaling history, the site contains evidence of early to mid twentieth century bush architecture and cottage gardening practices. NSW National Park 1995: 3-4)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Davidson Whaling Station is located in a spectacular natural setting and possesses a tranquility and sense of remoteness and respite from the developed world.

There is a demonstratable relation between the built environment, the garden landscape and the natural setting. The location of the whaling station on the edge of Kiah Inlet with a backdrop of native forest is particularly attractive.

The rather delapidated appearance of the buildings makes the visitor aware of the processes of time while at the same time creaing a strong sense of the past.

The gardens and the wide variety of birds seen and heard at the site also contribute to Davidson Whaling Station's high aesthetic value. (NSW National Parks 1995:3)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The historic structures and records illustrate clearly the living and working conditions of a whaling station. The site is important as a social focus for many Davidson descendants, descendants of the Aboriginal whalers and other figures associated with the whaling industry who are residents of the Eden District. (NSW National Parks 1995: 4)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
As the longest operating shore based whaling station on the east coast of Australia, Davidson Whaling Station is a most significant archaeologicla resource. It possesses a relatively undisturbed sequence of prehistoric and historic archaeological remains which have the potential to provide information on pre-European Aboriginal lifestyles and practices, the Aboriginal European contact period and 20th century isolated lifestyles.

The tryworks site is tangible evidence of the 'trying down' processes at the whaling station and is the only such site remaining in Australia. The tryworks site comprises remnants of the brick footings and hearth once used to boil down whale blubber, a number of timber artefacts and three ships tanks. The tryworks were built on top of an Aboriginal midden from which an archaeological investigation revealed the remains of a dingo. (NSW National Parks 1995: 4)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Davidson Whaling Station is the longest operating whaling station in Australia , the last of its type to close down and one of few shore based whaling station with in situ remains. (NSW National Parks 1995: 3-4)
Integrity/Intactness: The entire site is relatively undisturbed although some structures are no longer extant. (NSW National Parks 1995: 5)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementCarry out an Archaeological Assessment 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0098402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Parks & Wildlife Service Section 170 Register  National Parks & Wildlife Service  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismNational Parks and Wildlife Service2007Davidson Whaling Station View detail
WrittenNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service1995Davidson Whaling Station Historic. Site Plan of Management.
TourismVisit NSW2007Davidson Whaling Station View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5000659


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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