Page 15 - Mining, Shipping and Whaling

A man must be of good repute and possess 200 guineas to obtain admission to the Hobart Stock Exchange. High change is held at noon and 4,50 p.m. All the leading mine managers are members of the Hobart Stock Exchange. The West Coast mining shares are all practically dealt with at Hobart, although the Western Silver Mining Company, at Zeehan, has its bead office at Launceston. Mr. August Simson is the manager. This company is not a very large one, but it is dividend paying. It was started on the 26th October, 1893. Since then nine dividends, each of 1s. per share, have been paid ; total, £27,000. About 600 tons net weight of ore are shipped monthly, value on the mine about £7000. The company has a substantial tramway from the mine to connect with the Zeehan tramway, and thus with the Strahan railway. The whole of the plant and works have been paid for out of the produce of the mine, no call having been made, the original prospecting tunnels and shafts having been paid for by proceeds of sale of 20,000 shares by original proprietors, all shares thereafter ranking alike as contributing shares. It must be very pleasant to hold shares in a mining company in which no calls have been made. But then one knows not the day nor the hour when such an event may happen.

The oldest silver mine in Zeehan is the Silver Queen, of which Mr. E. E. Mace is legal manager. Mr. W. C. Grubb is the manager of the company known as "Grubb's Silver Mining Company." Visitors to the Hobart Exhibition will see a beautiful little silver model of the ore taken from Grubb's mine at Mount Zeehan. The " New Golden Gate " mine at Mathinna is managed by Mr. H. J. Wise. The extensive plant at this mine was manufactured by the Salisbury Foundry Company, of Launceston. The East Pinafore Gold Mining Company at Lefroy was floated in Hobart, Mr. W. J. Westcott being the legal manager. This company deserves special mention, as a large number of its shares are held in Victoria. Of the Lefroy mines I will treat fully when we get to Launceston. The tourist interested in mining can go direct to Strahan, port for Mount Zeehan, by the Union Company's boats, or from Hobart by Messrs. Reynolds and Co.'s coasters. He will enjoy beautiful scenery in Macquarie Harbor and the wildness of the mountain ranges. He can reflect on the wondrous alchemy of nature, which has buried its treasures underground in the midst of those primal forests, in the wildness of which there is no past, but whose real beauty to the shareholder will consist in a dividend paying glorious future. The wealth hidden here has greater potentiality than any cradled Hercules. Does mining in Tasmania pay ? I ask this question of many. It certainly pays some. I am told of one gentleman in Hobart who 15 years ago invested £700 in one mine here. He has up to date received nearly£80,000 in dividends.

The business of Hobart is still chiefly centred around Sullivan's Cove, now divided into docks and wharves. The inhabitants are never tired of telling you that the largest vessels in the world can be berthed right in the heart of the city. As a matter of fact the largest vessel trading south of the line, the White Star steamer Gothic, comes alongside one of the wharves without difficulty. Sydney Harbor does not possess greater facilities for shipping than Hobart does. Spend a day around Sullivan's Cove and you will get a good idea of the commerce of Hobart. There is more character to be studied here than in other Australaian ports. That character is English. The buildings too are English. Especially English are the public houses, with their quaint painted signboards Jolly sea dogs, in port after after a successful cruise, with their pay in their pockets, and a love of liquor and company in their hearts, are enticed to enter the portals of the Lord Rodney or Admiral Hornby hotels. The hero of Trafalgar is represented in the full dress of his rank, reminding one of Mr. James Cassius Williamson in Pinafore. Nelson has an armless sleeve pinned to his coat. He carries a telescope, the one he put to his blind eye at Copenhagen. The picture is very impressive – it is such a daub. This sign has looked down on a generation of shellbacks, who have got jolly within the walls and sung -

Fifteen men on a dead man's chest,
Hi ! Ho ! And a bottle of rum !
Drink and the devil have done for the rest,
Hi ! Ho ! And a bottle of rum !

Drink and the devil are still at their work in Tasmania as elsewhere.

The New Zealand Steamship Company's vessels arrive at Hobart monthly. The Shaw, Savill and Albion Company's steamers arrive on alternate fortnights. Hobart is thus in direct touch with London, even more so than Melbourne, for the shipping and the wharves here are part of the life of the place. All the people of Hobart know the different ocean liners and their officers. Along its wharf I find the White Star steamer Doric, chartered by the Shaw, Savill Company. I am very pleased to meet here her commander, Captain Kempton, K.N.R., and to interchange reminiscences of old friends in this service, with whom I have voyaged on many oceans. Australian passengers who travelled with Captain Kidley on the Ionic from London to Hobart some few years ago will be very pleased to hear that the then second officer, Mr. M'Kinstry, now commands the Germanic, one of the crack boats crossing the Atlantic. I never saw a cooler act than when Captain M'Kinstry pulled off his coat, kicked off his, shoes and jumped from the bridge of the Ionic into the waters of Plymouth Harbor, and saved a human life, and as one of our passengers said, " per chance a human soul." I wonder if Captain M'Kinstry has kept the purse knitted for him by a fair daughter of Victoria, who, after a long honeymoon in India, will he welcomed back to live amongst her own people. Captain Kempton and myself exchange ideas about Hobart. I am glad to record his opinion. "If I could retire on a moderate income, there is no place in the world I would sooner live in than Hobart. In climate, scenery and quiet society it offers every attraction. If people in England thoroughly knew the advantages it holds out, hundreds of good families would settle here." Captain Kempton is an authority with whom I agree.

The New Zealand Shipping Co. inaugurated a popular health route to Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia. A very well written handbook, supplied at all the agendas, gives passengers full particulars of the advantages offered by this line. The latest addition to its fleet is the Ruahine, 6127 tons, commanded by Captain J. E. Bone, R.N.R. She combines great cargo carrying capacity with splendid accommodation tor passengers and great speed. She is constructed to carry 70,000 carcases of mutton, and has compartments for 110 saloon passengers ; while at the same time the bulk of her 'tween decks is free for wool and other cargo. The whole of the space under the 'tween decks is insulated, space being provided for 70,000 carcases of mutton — being a considerable advance on any steamer at present afloat, while a good part is insulated for taking home dairy produce and fruit from the colony. In the old days Hobart Town sent out whale ships by the score. Boys took to whaling here as naturally as they did at New Bedford and Dundee. There are many old whaling hands knocking about Hobart. On the New Wharf I have the pleasure of meeting Captain J. W. Robinson. He is, as he says " only 71 and can throw a harpoon now with the best of them." Captain Robinson was born in Hobart, but served his apprenticeship to whaling on an American vessel. He was 25 years at this trade. " I have harpooned many a score," says Captain Robinson, " There was no Yankee could beat me at a long dart. I sailed the Abeona, the Pride, the Offley and other big vessels. Whaling was whaling in those days. Sperm oil was worth £80 a tun, now it's only £40. I remember the time when over 600 whale ships sailed out of the New England ports. You would see the Stars and Stripes all over the Senth Pacific. The Crozets was a great place for the American whalers. I have had good takes off Desolation Island and Kerguelen Land. But the black whale was plentiful off the coast of Tasmania, as it is now. We used to spear whales in the bay. I think Hobart the best whaling port in the world, if it can be made to pay, it all depends upon the price of oil."

Another old whaler, Captain Hopwood, a native of the colony, is a hale and hearty mariner, 70 years of age. He has spent all his boyhood and manhood sailing out of Hobart. Captain Hopwood recently gave an interesting account of whaling on the coast of Tasmania to the Hobart Mercury. He says, " 50 years ago, between the months of May and November, two parties took 500 tuns of oil in Marion Bay on the South-east coast. The whales were cut out under sheers erected on the beach, and the trypots were also on shore. The whales —
all of the black species — became so plentiful that there was not a corner left from the South-West Cape to George's Bay where a boat could be hauled up, but that there was one or more fisheries established there. On another occasion 100 whales were killed in a week in the neighborhood of the Schouten Group. Oil at that time brought £80 per tun. Black whales began to get scarce after that." Had they been protected for several years Captain Hopwood is of opinion that they would not have left Tasmanian waters, and especially if each season was followed by several years in which the whales were declared protected. Only a few days back an old whaler going down to New Zealand saw 60 cows and calves from the masthead at one time. Some 40 years ago the late Captain McArthur fell in with whales off Twofold Bay, and he did not put out his try works until the whales were lost off Maria Island, never to return to the coast again. In those days whalers have gone to the Behring Sea. There good takes were made by the Flying Childers, under Captain Lucas, and Captain Hopwood, who had been in those waters, reports sighting 50 sail of ships at one time waiting for the breaking up of the ice. Speaking of sealing Captain Hopwood has a distinct recollection of seals being on the flat rock near Betsy Island, and also on Maria and Schouten Islands, and the White Rock. The latter was a favorite haunt, but one day a boat's crew landed and by a most wanton act of cruelty drove the seals off, and they have never been seen there since.