This wooden transport box was used to carry trout and salmon ova boxes from the upper reaches of the Derwent River to the newly established fish hatchery at Plenty, Tasmania. It represents a concerted effort against all odds to introduce salmon and trout into Tasmanian waterways.
The Norfolk arrived in Melbourne in 1864 with its precious cargo of ova taken from Scottish salmon and trout, carefully packed in ice from Lake Wenham in North America. The ova had successfully survived the 84 days at sea under the watchful eye of a Mr Ramsbottom. The ova were then loaded aboard the Victoria, bound for Hobart Town. The ship arrived at the docks on the Derwent to big fanfare, where the cargo was carefully transferred to a barge and towed by river steamer to New Norfolk. From there, the barge was towed by two rowing boats as far as ‘The Falls’, further up the river. The barge was moored at a jetty at the Ark Inn (now Atherfield).
From there, the packing cases were carried up the road to the Salmon Ponds by teams of eight men. Every contingency was covered to ensure the ova were transported safely to the Plenty ponds. Four men walked alongside, ready to take over from the four carrying the boxes should they tire. The cases had been fixed with rope handles and long bamboo poles were passed through the handles, with the poles to be carried on the men’s shoulders.
The first batch of cases arrived at the ponds at about midday on Thursday, 21 April, 1864. About half of the salmon ova, and about 150 trout ova, had survived the epic journey.
The salmon eventually escaped to the sea, never to return, but the introduction of trout was so successful that the salmon commissioners presented 1000 trout ova to the Auckland Acclimatisation Society in the 1870s.