Page 16 - Whaling, Jam and Apples

It appears that the rock rises out of the water on one side up to a high point, then it forms a cliff, at the foot of which is a rocky ledge, the seals were driven up the slope, and one by one fell over the edge of the cliff on to the platform and were all killed. Seals have never frequented the rock since. As with the seals so with the mutton birds, unrestricted hunting will end in their extermination. The late Captain McArthur was a well known whaler. He sailed and owned the Water Witch, the Sea Shell and the Aladdin and other vessels. Whaling skippers on long voyages then took their wives and families with them. Captain Milford McArthur, deputy Harbor Master of Hobart, was born at sea off Milford Sound. Cultivated ladies now tell me they look back, with horror to the days when they clapped their childish hands with glee, shouting " She's spouting blood," a sign that the harpoon had done its work. Whaling is not a rosewater industry. Captain Bayley, late of the Runymede, is one of the old whalers who made a large fortune. He lives ashore now, a prosperous gentleman, but is never so happy as when telling his friends tales of the sea, killing his whales again. He has called his pleasant house in Newton, Runymede, and has adorned his garden with a fine pair, of whale's jaws.

Messrs. Alexander McGregor and Co; are making an effort to revive the whaling industry in connection with the port of Hobart. The late Captain McGregor, younger brother of Mr. Alexander McGregor, was a noted whaler in his day. The firm have now two barques out whaling, the Helen and the Water Witch, both models of vessels. The former, was purchased by Mr. A. McGregor about 20 years back, when only 2 years old. She was built by the celebrated tea clipper builders, Messrs, R. Steele, of Greenock, to the order of Messrs. Gilchrist, Watt and Co., of Sydney; for the China trade. After coming into the hands of Messrs. McGregor and Bayley she traded to China and continued in that trade for some years. She afterwards was placed on the Hobart and London trade, and later on to the colonies. Messrs. Alex. McGregor and Co., being the sole owners, fitted her up for whaling in April 1894, arranging with the present commander, Captain Wm. Folder to take one half interest, and she left the port of Hobart for her initial cruise in May last, under 18 months articles. She is one of the most suitable vessels in the Australian waters for whaling, being very easy and a fast sailer. She is fitted to lower four boats, being all newly built and carries a crew of 32 men, including officers, all of whom are expert whalers. Mr. McGregor's vessels have been doing very well up to date. If whale oil is down in price, provisions are cheap and whales are plentiful. There are many unemployed loafing round the wharves here, men of an amphibious life, one part of their existence spent on the sea, the other on shore. If such men would be satisfied with a moderate share of the take, whaling might yet become a profitable industry in connection with Hobart. Mr. Alexander McGregor deserves credit for resuscitating whaling here. It is an avocation which breeds true sailors, and I wish it every success. "Lay me on, boys ! lay me on ! Two seas more ! I'm Hell on along dart !" was the Yankee harpooner's shibboleth, which I have often heard from the lips of old Cape Cod shellbacks. Good luck to the Helen and the Water Witch !

The firm of Alexander McGregor and Co., of Hobart, merchants and ship owners, has been in existence for over 30 years, carrying on a large English and colonial trade, being the largest shipping firm of the port. Up to the time of the Queensland sugars being introduced into Hobart market, this firm was a large importer of Mauritius sugar, employing its own vessels and indenting its own cargoes. The firm at one time owned or was connected with the following vessels and merchant ships: — The Lufra, Helen, Harriet McGregor, Hally Bayley, Bella Mary, Isle of France and Loongana. Whaling ships : The Derwent Hunter, Flying Childers, Emily Downing, Runnymede, Asia and Water Witch. Owing to the rapid progress of steam, the sailing vessels had to find other employment, and several of the above vessels have been sold out of the port. Alexander McGregor and Co. still own the Harriet McGregor, a regular trader to London, and also the Asia, now in the coasting trade, together with the only two whaling vessels of the port, the Helen and Water Witch. The Hally Bayley, Harriet McGregor and Loongana were built by the firm at its well known ship yards, the patent slip, Queen's Domain. For years this firm had a direct line of vessels to Auckland, New Zealand, running up to the time of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, making this port a call and taking up the trade. The Bella Mary and Loongana were well known vessels on the New Zealand line, carrying most of the fruit and produce to the Auckland market. This firm represents the New Zealand Insurance Company, having had the agency since 1878. It is also agent for the direct line of steamers and sailing vessels from London to Hobart, and ships large parcels of wool to the London market, together with the takes of sperm oil brought in by the whaling vessels. It has agencies in London and all the colonies. " Mr. S. T. Kirby, the manager, has been connected with the firm for 19 years. Mr. Alexander McGregor is the present master warden of the Hobart Marine Board. For many years he was a director of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company, which the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand purchased. He is a member of the Legislative Council, representing Hobart since 1880.

Captain E. T. Miles, managing director of T. A. Reynolds and Co., steamship owners, was born in Hobart in 1849. He went to sea at an early age, serving an apprenticeship in Chinese and Japanese waters during the Taeping war. He joined the Hudson's Bay Company's servicein 1868, trading to Labrador, Greenland and Hudson's Bay, and was on the west coast of Africa, trading to Lagos and Cape Coast Castle, during the fever scare, when scarcely a white man was left alive. He afterwards traded between Java, Sumatra and Singapore, and arrived at Melbourne in 1870 with a cargo of small-pox from Samarang. Appointed to his first command on the barque Freetrader, lately wrecked at Warrnambool, in 1872, when only 23 years old, he had command of different vessels in American, African, China, Indian, Mauritius and Australian trades until he retired from active sea service in 1886. He became a ship owner in 1879, and since then has owned at different times 15 sailing vessels and 12 steamers. In November, 1889, in conjunction with Messrs. Reynolds and Walker, he tendered for and secured a contract for construction of the Strahan-Zeehan railway, through a country considered at that time almost inaccessible. To carry this work out successfully they purchased the steamers now running under the flag of T. A. Reynolds and Co. in the trade between Strahan, Melbourne, Hobart, Launceston and north-west coast ports. Captain Miles in 1887 was elected warden to the Hobart Marine Board ; in 1889 he was appointed J. P.; in 1892, first master warden Strahan Marine Board ; and in 1893 elected member of the House of Assembly for Glamorgan.

This is a record of which a young Tasmanian may well he proud. It shows that the old sea dog spirit of our ancestors has not deteriorated in this southern isle. I am very sorry that I do not see more of Captain Miles. We should have mutual reminiscences of many seas and lands. Bearded and smiling, scarcely looking his 45 years, Captain Miles stands at the door of his office on the Zeehan Wharf surveying the shipping and snow capped Mount Wellington with the air of one very well content to live on shore in ease, and no longer brave the stormy deep. How I would like to fathom the mysteries of travel in this master mariner's memory. Adventures with Taepings and pirates in Chinese waters, fever on the gold coast, small-pox in Java; trading with Esquimaux in Greenland, with Red Indians in Labrador, with niggers in Africa, with Chee-chees in Cathay ! And then to settle down in his native place a prosperous railroad contractor, ship owner and member of Parliament. Captain Miles is the only man I envy in Hobart. The Zeehan Wharf, from which Reynolds and Co.'s vessels sail, was formerly Hunters Island, which Governor Collins describes as on the right of Sullivan's Cove where he entered, and a "most convenient place on which to keep stores." Sullivan's Cove has been much altered since then. The banks have been filled up to make Wharves, and Hunter Island is connected with the shore, no trace of its original state remaining. Hunter's Island was in the early days the " Execution Dock" of Hobart. Two small cannons stuck in the ground muzzle downwards are reminders of the past. Mr. J. Y. Johnson, who bosses the office and lives in adjacent premises, says the dead sleep well. He has no fear of spooks, the toughest of whom would have a tough job with Captain Miles.

Messrs. James and John Macfarlane, natives of Glasgow, came to Tasmania after eight years' business training with the firm of Messrs. Redfern, Alexander and Co., London. On arrival in Hobart, in 1870, they took over the business of Askin Morrison, established in 1830, as whole sale importers of general merchandise, teas from China, sugar from Mauritins, rice from Japan, and direct cargoes from America being amongst the chief lines. They exported wool, sperm oil, tallow and bark. In addition to ordinary general merchants' business as importers and exporters, steamship and sailing vessel agencies have always been an extensive part of the business. In 1877 Messrs. McMeckan, Blackwood and Co.'s steamers called here en route to New Zealand, opening up the trade by steamer with that colony with such vessels as the Claude Hamilton, Tararua, Omeo, Alhambra, Albion and Otago. The line was subsequently purchased by the Union Steam ship Company of New Zealand, for which this firm continued to act as agent until June, 1891, when the Union company bought the business of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company and established its own office here The agency of the well known Orient line has been held by the firm since the commencement of the steamers running to the colonies, but it is only within the past few years that steamers of this line have called here in conjunction with the P. and O. Company's boats to fill the refrigerating chambers with the large and important cargoes of apples. The firm also represents the New Shipping Company, whose steamers were the first to call here and open up direct trade from London via the Cape of Good Hope. The Following agencies show the nature of the firm's business :- The Colonial Sugar Refining Co. of Sydney, Royal Insurance Co. of Sydney (fire, and life), North Queensland Insurance Co. (fire and marine), Electric Lighting and Electric Tramway, Adelaide Steamship Co. and F. Green and Co.'s line of sailing vessels. Mr. James Macfarlane is vice-consul for Sweden and Norway, and Mr. John Macfarlane vice-consul for Denmark.

To the west of Sullivan's Cove, on what is known as the New Wharf; is a fine pile of buildings, prominent amongst which is the establishment of Mr. W. D. Peacock, jam manufacturer. The name of Peacock is well known in the jam trade The Tasmanian jams of this brand are found all over the East. In Singapore, Calcutta, Madras, Colombo, Aden and Cairo you consume Peacock's jam, if you have a sweet tooth, with your chota hazri in the morning. " When my goods were found to give unqualified satisfaction," says Mr. Peacock " firms in India and elsewhere wrote asking for agencies. I don't think there is any necessity to send Government drummers for trade to India or China as you have done in Victoria. Good articles will always find their way to the consumer through the ordinary channels of commerce." The premises are most extensive, and a large number of hands are employed here. These are engaged not only in jam making, but in making tins and boxes and fruit cases for the export trade. Hundreds of tons of jam are made here yearly, and sold locally as well as exported. In addition to exporting jam to the other colonies, Mr. Peacock supplies the factories in Australia with seasonable fruits, either fresh or in the pulp. He is renowned amongst lovers of good jam all over the world.

Tasmania is the home of the apple, and of apple cheeked maidens. In the season an extensive trade is done in the export of this fruit to London. There is a busy scene at the wharves loading cases of apples on board magnificent ocean steamers. Here is the Massilia, of the P. and O. line, with Messrs. Webster and Son's clerks checking the tallies. Messrs. Macfarlane Brothers are the agents of the Orient liners which call in here for fruit. When it pays these companies to send their vessels out of their course to load apples for London, the trade must be an extensive one, and well worthy of full notice in the commerce of Hobart. I am referred to Mr. W. D. Peacock as a gentleman who can give me full particulars to the apple export. He says :-

" My connection with the fruit industry of this colony has extended over the greater part of my life. At an early age, owing to the death of my father, I left the home of my boyhood in Gloucestershire and set sail in the ship Percy for Tasmania, arriving at Hobart, where my uncle, Mr. George Peacock, resided, in December 1861. Entering the service of the firm, of which my uncle was the principal, I remained in Hobart for a number of years, chiefly connected with the business of jam making and fruit preserving. Fifteen to twenty years ago the apple export trade was very different to what it is at the present day ; the fruit was mostly sold in Hobart and very few growers had any idea of consigning to distant ports on their own acccount, thus saving intermediate profits. Having a keen interest in the welfare of the orchard owners, among whom for 10 years my lot was cast, I endeavored to effect such improvements as my duties to my firm would permit, and on behalf of growers I consigned many thousand bushels of fruit to the neighboring colonies. In time, attention was called to the possibility of opening up a trade in apples with England, and Messrs. Fryer and Co., with much energy and enterprise, did a great deal on behalf of the growers to inaugurate this new branch of the industry, Messrs. Wright Bros, and the firm with whom I was connected doing a more modest share of the business. It was during these early days of the trade that a quantity of fruit forwarded to Melbourne for shipment per Ormuz was shut out of that vessel's cool chambers and carried as ordinary cargo, the result being that several hundred cases of apples in a half baked condition were landed in London, and a considerable quantity was condemned by the authorities.