One of the stories from the 2011 project: Who were they? People who shaped Victor Harbor and for whom our parks and reserves are named.
James was one of the last whalers of Port Victor. His story is a fascinating one and just the bare bones are given here. He was born in 1815 in Essex, England. In 1832, at the age of 17, he was shipped to Van Diemen’s Land as a sailor with a load of convicts.
After several occupations, in 1839, he finally settled down at a whaling station near the Bluff. The station may have been near where the James Long Reserve is now situated. If one stands on the reserve and, in the mind’s eye, ignores the houses now built there, there is a clear view of Encounter Bay where he would have seen the whales.
James was interviewed for a newspaper article around 1893, and gave a very graphic picture of whaling activities of the time. He, along with another whaler Harry Lush, was also employed for many years as a pilot along the coast between the Murray Mouth and The Bluff. He was instrumental in saving several men’s lives and in preventing ships with valuable cargoes from floundering.
James Long was married three times. His first marriage, at 40 years of age, was to Annie Lynn, a widow. He then married Caroline (sometimes Cath) Denny, another widow, and, finally, a third widow, Charlotte Chantrill, who had children from her previous marriage. According to Lorraine Pomery, a Pt Elliot historian, the Chantrills probably had shops in Pt Elliot, because James Long seems to have ended his years as a shopkeeper. Lorraine thinks the shops may have been between the present day Hotel Elliot and the Post Office on The Strand.
A newspaper article on 14 March 1903 gives this obituary for James Long:
Mr James Long, a very old resident of this district, died on March 12, at the age of 88 years. He had been ill for about three weeks. His remains were interred in the ?public cemetery on Saturday. He had resided in Port Elliot for a good many years. Before that he lived at Victor Harbor. He was about the last of the old whalers, and at one time he used to amuse visitors to Port Elliot with his tales of the sea. He left a widow.
- Trove digital newspapers www.trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
- Pictures from Yilki: A Place by the Sea, John Cameron
- Settlers Around the Bay, Anthony Laube
- Victor Harbor: From Pioneer Port to Seaside Resort, Michael Page.
- Special thanks to Lorraine Pomery, Pt Elliot