August 31, 2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of renowned Portland sealer and whaler William Dutton. This milestone is commemorated with an update of the sealing and whaling display at Portland’s Maritime Discovery Centre.
In December 1828, Dutton arrived in Portland Bay on a sealing trip aboard the “Madeira Packet”, landing at Blacknose Point, south of the bay.
He remained until mid January 1829, returning the following July aboard the “Henry”, this time building a house. From 1829 to 1842 Dutton was employed as a sealer and whaler by John Griffiths of Launceston, spending part of the year at Portland Bay, living in the house he had built.
By 1842, Portland was growing and Dutton, as master of the “Essington”, ran a regular service between Portland, Port Fairy and Launceston. From 1843 to 1844 he was headsman of a whaling boat operating for the Henty family.
The new display explores aspects of Portland’s sealing and whaling past, the Blue whale and the Bonny Upwelling, Portland’s whale skeleton, and the story of the whaleboat constructed in 2010 by the group Promoting Portland’s Maritime Heritage, and named in Dutton’s honour.
Also included is Bob Stone’s quirky mechanical sculpture “The Chase”, made for the 2010 Upwelling Festival Portals project, and purchased for the Council’s Cultural Collection earlier this year.The new display is part of the museum’s permanent exhibit, and an admission fee applies.