Albany's Historic Whaling Station, Western Australia
Albany was the site of Australia’s last whaling station which operated from 1952 to 1978.
Fortunately, whaling for profit was banned in 1986. My visit to the whaling station was not entertaining, rather it was educational and taught me a lot about why we need to protect whales.
The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was the longest running and most successful whaling company in Australia. At its peak it supplied up to 60% of the world’s market for Sperm whale oil. It was used for lamp oil, lubricants, explosives, soap and even margarine.
The structures have been kept in situ here and it is now a tourist attraction. Guided tours are run daily and bring to life a picture of a day in the life of the whalers. It would have been a noisy, smelly, busy place. We met at the flensing deck, where the whales were first brought ashore.
The tour then took us up onto the deck where they would cut the whale into pieces to fit into the boilers. Underneath, the boilers are still in place.
The old oil tanks have been repurposed into theatres showing short films on Australian whaling, sharks and a 3D film on whales. To see all 3 will take around 45 minutes. It was interesting and gave a greater insight into the whaling industry and the beauty of both sharks and whales and current legislation that protects these creatures.
There are hundreds of historical objects on display here, including scrimshaw, marine art, boats and harpoons. Many photos of the whaling days and the people who worked here are also on display.
The skeleton shed was once used to bag and store whale meat, a high-protein fertilizer product. A skeleton of one of the last sperm whales taken in 1978 is here and is 11m (37 feet) long. The average length is 15m (50 feet). The average weight is 36,000kg (40T). Skeletons are now obtained when whales die of natural causes in the area.
The Cheynes IV was Australia’s last whale chasing ship. It is 48.5m long and 9m across. It accommodated 20 crew. Finding a permanent home at the Whaling station, you can come aboard the ship and try to imagine what it would have been like when it was running. The steep decks at the front of the ship would have been treacherous. However, one of the volunteers manning the ship told me that they never lost anyone overboard.
Interesting and educational is how I would describe my visit to the whaling station. There is a picnic area here with free BBQs, or grab a bite in the seaside café overlooking the stunning bay. Your entry ticket also includes entry to the regional wildflower garden and the Australian wildlife park. (You can come back complimentary within 3 days).
81 Whaling Station Road, Torndirrup, Western Australia
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