26 May 2014
One of the whale chaser ships “Cheynes IV” at the heritage listed Albany Whaling Station
Another grey day so no real rush to get going as the pattern of the last few days is that the sun will shine later. We had breakfast at Dome (my favourite, muesli, again) and then drove along Frenchman’s Bay Road to the south of Albany, past Princess Royal Harbour on the massive King George Sound, and to the now idle, (since 1978) heritage listed Albany Whaling Station. Guided tours leave on the hour and we were there for the 11am tour which included a walk around the station with information from our guide, also audio chats at certain parts of the area, and a 3D movie on whales. We were then free to explore the rest of the site which included the Colin Green Heritage Gallery with photographs taken during the operations, skeletons of whales, the huge oil storage tanks and the machinery used in the operations.
Although the whole concept of killing whales is one that I abhor, the tour at least explained the reasons why this process took place during the 20 odd years up to the closure of the station when whaling ceased, and the number of products made from these beautiful animals. During its operations 14,600 whales were slaughtered mainly for their oil, sperm whales and humpback whales were the main animals hunted.
A massive skeleton of a sperm whale (left) and (right) the slaughter and “cooker” section of the station
We had lunch at the Whaler’s GalleyCafe at the station, a lovely spot to gaze through the full glass windows at the King George Sound and the rain that had started to fall.
The sun struggling through after a shower over King George Sound
Retracking our drive to the whaling station, we entered Torndirrup National Park and explored some of the beaches along the wild Southern Ocean. Two of these beaches have huge granite boulder formations which make it an interesting and exciting place to visit. Although it was only light showers, the wind was very gusty, and it was eerie feeling dwarfed by some of the massive rocks and watching the huge waves smashing against the rocks. The Gap (left) is the 25 metre high space between massive granite rock walls, the waves smashing against both sides of the chasm and tossing spray up into the air. At the Natural Bridge (right), a feature carved from ancient granite by the forces of nature, the surf crashes under the bridge.
This whole area is surrounded by granite rocks, looking like giant pebbles, and there are warnings that the area could be dangerous.
Adjacent to these two interesting features, and looking out to the Green Islands and Sharp Point was a beach (below) where waves were crashing on to the rocks. Very dramatic part of the coast line along the Southern Ocean, and made even more dramatic with the gathering clouds, the light rain and the gusty wind.
As the day was starting to clear we returned to Albany, with the intention of driving up to the top of Mount Clarence for 360 degree views over Albany. At the crest of the mountain is a large bronze memorial to the Desert Corps, and boardwalks to catch the most spectacular views over King George Sound, and we could pick out the Whaling Station and the beaches we had visited earlier that day (below).
A little further east of the Lookout was Middleton Beach, on Middleton Bay, a lovely and very long beach that is obviously a popular relaxing leisure beach in summer. A walking track can be seen around the point at the western end of the beach, and there are wonderful views across King George Sound from the point above the beach.
It has been another busy and enjoyable sightseeing day, finished off with a nice Italian meal at Venice restaurant in the main street of town. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Albany, a city that has many attractions and would be a very pleasant city in which to live. Tomorrow we have a long drive of about 480 kilometres to Esperance, the most easterly town we will visit in Western Australia.