North to Matsumae : Australian whalers to Japan by Noreen Jones

By Noreen Jones

Whaling hyperlinks among Japan and Australia. Whaling undefined, Australian-Japanese kin, old debts and perspective.

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Sample text

Neither their luck or the weather improved, and the men were employed collecting rainwater for storage, stowing packs in the coal hole — coal being carried to add to the fires to render the blubber. Russell busied himself attending to the longstanding filth and gross neglect of stores and many instances of waste, which should have been done by his officers. The weather remained unsettled, with lightning and rain, and that night a thunderstorm and severe squall came on so suddenly that, although they were all on alert, it very nearly upset the ship.

Green Islands were low in height, but were covered with high trees growing to at least sixty feet, some of which showed their tops above coconut trees. In some places the trees actually grew in the sea, where at low tide there was still a depth of three feet of water. They reached a considerable size, with their boughs spread very wide. The leaf was not unlike the laurel leaf, and the trees had descending roots like those of a banyan tree; the wood was dark in the middle or heart like a calamander, with a pleasant smell, and the tree bore a nut.

The islanders were not anxious to trade, but reluctantly climbed some coconut trees and threw the nuts on to the boats in exchange for iron hoop. The islanders appeared familiar with iron hoops, which were carried on the whaling ships for the construction of the hundreds of casks used to hold 12 Port Jackson to Lauchlan Islands the whale oil. For islanders using stone tools and hunting with arrows tipped with shell, the introduction of iron by traders was very quickly appreciated. When the boats shoved off just before dark, Russell was sorry to hear a musket shot fired, even though it was fired into the air.

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