are very large, and weigh from 8 cwt to half a ton', although he acknowledged
wide variability in oil yields.
By 1864, in addition to the fishing stations in southern Queensland, a small
dugong fishing station had commenced operating at Cardwell. By 1865, the
possibility of a substantial dugong oil industry had been recognised as dugong
numbers were reported to be very large in Queensland waters (Anonymous, 1861;
Eden, 1872; Jones, 1961; Johnson, 2002). Describing what he regarded as 'a new
and important branch of industry', Rowe (1865, pp123-4) stated:
The dugong ( Halicore australis ) is abundant on all the eastern coasts of the
colony […]. Now that the oil is discovered to be valuable, it is exported to
England in such quantities, that the fate of the dugong is sealed; and the
fishery will eventually drive it in diminished numbers to the farthest and
least approachable spots on the extreme north of the coast.
A report published in the Brisbane Courier in 1869, however, acknowledged
that the distribution of dugongs in Queensland coastal waters was uneven: the
animals were more numerous in Wide, Hervey and Rodds Bays than in Moreton
Bay and were found 'at all seasons of the year in almost incredible numbers' in the
tropical latitudes of Queensland (cited in Thorne, 1876, pp248-9).
From 1870, dugong oil, hides, tusks and bones were exported from Queensland
to New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Great Britain and Canada.
Quantities of oil exported from Queensland from 1870 to 1902 are illustrated in
Figure 7.3, which shows considerable fluctuations, although some large quantities
of oil were shipped. In addition to the oil, 291 dugong hides and 4 cwt of dugong
used to manufacture leather products; the bones were used to produce ornamental
Compiled from data provided in SCQ , 1870-1900; SSQ , 1901-1902