On 18 September 1895, the Macleay Argus reported the launch of John Barrie’s whale boat
On Sunday week a large whale boat was successfully launched at Crescent Head. The boat, which is 25ft. long, 6ft. beam and is 2ft. 6in. deep, was built to the order of Mr John Barrie, of East Kempsey, by Mr J. McNeil, the well-known boat builder of Kempsey, and is a very roomy and serviceable craft. It is to be used for whaling purposes, and when not required for that object will be placed at the disposal of visitors to that charming seaside resort. The ceremony of christening the vessel was performed by Mrs William Hibbard, of Crescent Head, who broke the orthodox bottle of wine over the bow of the craft, at the same time naming it the “Venture.” The baptismal function concluded, six stalwart men manned the boat for its first trip over the foaming billows. The names of the crew were:- John Barrie (stroke), Thomas Maddocks, F. Gill and L. Ainsworth. W. Hibbard acted as coxswain, while P.J. Dowe stood in the bow harpoon in hand ready poised to “skewer” the first whale they came across. To provide against possible emergencies, a beaker of water was stowed on board. A bottleof whisky was also carried, probably to qualify any bad effects from the water. The day was bright and the sea smooth and all went well until the coxswain, catching sight of a porpoise, succumbed to an attack of seasickness. After pulling out to sea for a few miles and spending an hour or two in fishing without any result, the party returned safely to land. The boat, which can carry between 40 and 50 persons, should prove a boon to parties of schnapper fishers, and it could also be used to convey passengers to and from passing steamers.
On 8 August 1896, the Macleay Argus reported: “one of the whalers employed by Mr Jno. Barrie, while in the act of firing one of the guns in the boat, had his collar-bone broken by the rebound of the weapon. He was brought to the Hospital and admitted for treatment.”