Built in 1847 this 23 metre tower constructed of blocks of Pyrmont sandstone imported from Sydney was initially intended as a lighthouse by Benjamin Boyd, the Scottish entrepreneur, who was then building Boydtown and East Boyd, and planned to base his Steamship Company in Twofold Bay. However, it was deemed unsuitable for the purpose by the Crown and was never commissioned.
Quite a number of such towers dotted the coast during the hey-day of Twofold Bay's shore-based whaling operations, but the others were made of timber and have not withstood the ravages of bushfires which periodically sweep through this area. Boyd's Tower itself was struck by lightning in the 1860s and as a result is missing a section from its top.
The tower was designed by Boyd's Whaling Master, Oswald Brierly (who was also an artist, later knighted and appointed as Queen Victoria's Marine Artist) and was situated just above the treacherous Seahorse Shoals whose presence is only detectable by breaking waves during heavy seas.
Following the collapse of Boyd's financial empire, the tower was taken over by the Davidson family whose Whaling Station was based at Kiah Inlet. During the season the tower was manned daily to alert the Kiah Inlet crews to the presence of whales.
Carved into the ledge of the bottom north widow is a tribute to a popular young Norwegian man who had worked with the Davidson Family whalers. "In Memory of Peter Lia who was killed by a whale, September 28 1881. Aged 22 years."
Late in the afternoon the whalers had set out in two boats in pursuit of an exceptionally large right whale. After both harpoons had hit home the whale made straight to sea for more than 8 miles with both boats in tow. By now night had fallen and George Davidson heard his father call to cut his line as the lines had become crossed. However no sooner had this been done than they heard a violent crash and voices calling for help. The whale had turned and come up beneath the other boat, smashing it in half, it's tail fluke hitting where Peter Lia was sitting.
George Davidson and his crew were able to rescue all other crew members of his father's boat but despite a long search of the area no trace of Peter Lia could be found. Finally abandoning the search they were guided back to South Head by the tiny glimmer of lantern light from the base of Boyd's Tower. John Davidson said later that it was the biggest black whale he had ever seen.
Neither Lia's body, the boat or the whale were ever seen again. Some years later, however, the carcase of a large whale was found washed up on the Ninety Mile beach on the Victorian coast south of Twofold Bay. In it was a rusty harpoon of similar make to those used by the Kiah River whalers.
In 1973 the area was declared a National Park and Boyd's Tower was added to that Ben Boyd National Park in 1976. The site is now administered by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Magnificent views can be enjoyed from the lookout on this site.
|Facilities - non-flush toilets, lookout.There is a 350 metre bitumen track with a lay-by running through melaleuca trees. The lookout is not accessible but there are good views from the track and interesting geological formation.|