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Oyster Punt

Vessel Number: HV000558
Date: 1970
Dimensions:
Vessel Dimensions: 7.62 m x 6.71 m x 2.44 m x 0.3 m (25 ft x 22 ft x 8 ft x 1 ft)
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Significance
The Clyde River oyster punt was built in Sydney in 1970 where it was first used before moving to work on the Clyde River in southern NSW. It is probably the only surviving intact wooden punt in the Bateman’s Bay region, where once there were many examples. It shows how the original method of farming and collecting oysters was practised before the introduction of modern craft, and represents the heritage of oyster farming, the oldest industry for the Bateman’s Bay region.
DescriptionThe oyster punt was built at Shell Point on the Georges River NSW by Ken and Reg Humbley of Humbley's Oysters for their use in 1970. It was used by them and other unknown owners before being taken to Batemans Bay in the 1990s and used on the Clyde River oyster farms. The last owner was Ewen McCash from Batemans Bay who donated it to the Old Courthouse Museum at Batemans Bay in 2010.

It is a wooden hull, transverse planked over the bottom in 1 1/4 inch flooded gum planking. The sides are fore and aft planked in two strakes with the same material. The bottom is supported by three equi-spaced internal runners that are steamed into shape at the forward end. This leaves the bottom interior free for using shovels and other apparatus to handle the oysters. It has a chine log, inwale, capping board and other typical fore and aft structure, with seven frames on the sides only. The bottom corners of the hull have a steel angle section to prevent damage, at the forward end this is thin sheet metal in short section to accommodate the curved profile. There is a short foredeck.

The punt has always been used for oyster farming. It does not appear to have been modified, but towards the end of its use it had a simple crane or derrick mounted on the stern, with a block and tackle and hook. It also had a pile diver to push the oyster posts into position.

Oysters have been the source of a significant industry in Batemans Bay since the 1860s, and are considered the first industry in the region, preceding the timber and fishing industries. It remains the strongest industry, in 2013 the last timber mill had closed recently, and fishing is undertaken by only a few vessels. Oyster leases on the river upstream of the bridge are largely family owned and many have been a source of income for a number of generations.

The punt is the only known wooden example to remain intact in the region and will be displayed in the museum collection along with some of its associated equipment, including the block and tackle, hook, and aluminium sled used on the mud flats. Oyster farming is a major social story for the region. This punt is significant to the interpretation of the traditional methods and equipment used over many decades until superseded in the 21st century with modern vessels as the current oyster leases are now serviced by aluminium craft.

The punt shows the typical construction which is understood to have remained the same for many decades and will be a significant artefact in a proposed display and interpretation of the oyster industry at the Old Courthouse Museum.

The significance of the industry can be gauged from examples of media reports. In 1858 the Empire notes the steamer MIMOSA is carrying 40 bags of oysters from the Clyde River, in 1868 the Queenslander has an extensive summary of the east coast industry, and the Clarence and Richmond Examiner in 1900 carries a number of reports of the cultivation throughout NSW. In 1943, a heat wave is reported in the Army News, noting the destruction of many oysters on the Clyde River, where it says " Half of Australia's oyster supplies come from the Clyde River farms".


Vessel Details
Current status:non-operational
Current status:on public display
Deck layout:open/foredeck
Deck material and construction:timber planked
Hand propulsion/steering mechanism:pole
Hull material and construction:carvelcarvel-planked
Hull material and construction:timber
Hull shape:chines
Hull shape:flat bottom
Hull shape:monohull
Motor propulsion:outboard

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