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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)

Opinion of Otago and Sydney

Opinion of Otago and Sydney.

The whaling settlement at Auckland Island was a complete failure, a failure which caused great disappointment both at Home and in the Colonies; whaling in the South Seas being considered a trade of national importance. Toward the end of August, 1852, the Earl of Hardwicke arrived at Otago, bringing the remnant of the Southern Whale Fishery's staff, crews, and property, including the Governor's house, which was offered for sale. The Otago Witness contained an article which expressed regret, but not surprise at the abandonment of the settlement. Some portions of Mr. Enderby's plan were considered well worth adopting, but it was a mistake to have chosen the Auckland Islands as a site in order to prevent the desertion of crews; the result had been that the men regarded the island as a prison. Whales were plentiful enough, but the difficulties attending the capture of them were so great, owing to the boisterous weather, that scarcely any oil was obtained.

To many people in Sydney the failure of the scheme brought no surprise; the site being considered bad, and the attempt to colonize—folly. It was said that £30,000 had been spent on buildings and improvements at Port Ross, whereas, had Port Jackson, Newcastle, or Port Stephen been chosen as the whaling base, no more than £2,000 need have been expended on the erection of a store and dwellings for the labourers.

Also instead of a Chief Commissioner, who as Lieutenant-Governor, required a staff, the seven or eight ships employed could have been managed by any Sydney merchant with the help of an extra clerk. Never again would the Southern Whale Fishery be likely to form a base south of Otago.