Colonial Oil Company

Mobil’s predecessor company, Vacuum Oil, first opened its Melbourne branch in February 1895.

In March 1904, Vacuum Oil was officially incorporated under Victorian Law as a proprietary company. In 1906 the company issued Australia’s first ever chart of “Recommendations to Motorists” covering about 200 makes of car and highlighting the increasing range of lubricating products Vacuum Oil had available. By 1908, Vacuum was growing rapidly and merged with the Colonial Oil Co, a company marketing kerosene and motor spirit, adding to Vacuum’s specialty lubricant products. In 1916, Vacuum introduced its popular “Plume” (petrol) and “Laurel” (kerosene) brands to the Australian market which would develop the operations significantly. A year later, Vacuum brought its first 100 gallon, horse drawn tank wagon into service.

As motor vehicles became more popular in Australia, Vacuum expanded its operations.

In the early days sailing ships unloaded their cargoes of kerosene, petrol and lubricating oil at a small shed and wharf. The products were packed in wooden cases, containing 2 drums, each containing four gallons each.

In 1924 Vacuum opened its first bulk petroleum products terminal at Pulpit Point in Sydney and took delivery of its first imported bulk oil products cargo, a 1.5 million gallon shipment carried from the United States by the tanker “HT Harper”.

The Pulpit Point Oil Depot was built on the site of the old Fern Bay Pleasure Gardens that the oil company had purchased from local resident Charles Jeanneret in 1895.

The first mineral lubricants in Australia were sold by the Colonial Oil Company of Australia from their store at Pulpit Point, Hunters Hill.

A decade later, Vacuum introduced “Ethyl”, Australia’s first Super grade motor spirit. Around the same time in the US, Vacuum’s parent company, Vacuum Oil Inc, merged with the Standard Oil Company of New York to form Socony Vacuum, which subsequently became Socony Mobil and ultimately, Mobil. Socony Mobil introduced the Flying Red Horse (Pegasus) logo which first appeared in Australia in 1939 and became one of Australia’s best recognized corporate symbols.

Mobil put the Pulpit Point Oil Depot up for sale in the early 1980’s and proposed a residential development of 350 dwellings. The oil depot was finally demolished, the soil repatriated and the site was sold in 1988.