Bunbury to Albany

May 2021 – we set off to Albany. We are slowly making our way to South Australia. Heading there via Albany, Hyden, Westonia, Menzies, Kalgoorlie, Cocklebiddy, Head of Bight, Nullarbor Roadhouse, Ceduna, Port Augusta, Clare and Adelaide. A journey of approximately 4000 kilometres.

Albany sits on the south coast of Western Australia. Before European settlement, the Albany region was inhabited principally by the Menang Aborigines of the larger Noongar group. The area was called Kinjarling which means “place of rain”.  Evidence of an Aboriginal presence in the area dates back to about 25,000 years.

In December 1826, Major Edmund Lockyer arrived on the brig Amity to establish a military outpost at Mammang-Koort/ King George Sound.  On the 21st of January 1827, an official ceremony was held proclaiming the foundation of the first settlement in Western Australia.

In 1952, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company began its operations at Frenchman Bay, continuing until 21st November 1978, when the Cheynes II, Cheynes III and Cheynes IV berthed at the Albany Town Jetty after their last whale hunt.  The last shore based whaling station in Australia closed and 178 years of whaling in Albany waters came to an end.

Between 1952 and 1978, they had caught 1,136 humpbacks and 14,695 sperm whales alone. In 1954, over 1,016 tonnes of whale oil was produced from 120 whales, and in 1957, the company purchased their second chaser, Cheynes II.

The Australian author Tim Winton, patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, grew up in Albany. He doesn’t remember seeing any live whales in the ocean as a child but he saw plenty of dead ones. When visitors came from the city, the Winton family would head to the station’s observation platform for a view of the flensing deck – the place where the skin and blubber was manually stripped off the whales. “You would stand there in this fug of blubber steam – the most repulsive smell you could imagine.” (As written in an article in The Guardian by reporter Graham Readfearn 21/11/18)

Jude remembers going to Albany in the early 70’s and also smelling the stench from the Whaling Station wafting over the town.

We had been told about some amazing wooden sculptures so took a drive out to Darrel Radcliffe’s Sculpture Drive. Darrel is a chainsaw artist and uses old tree stumps as his canvas to create spectacular sculptures and artworks. Below are just a few pics we took. We highly recommend a visit.

We had been to Albany before and highly recommend a visit to the National Anzac Centre. It is a very modern building overlooking King George Sound and it honours the story of more than 40,000 Australians and New Zealanders who left Albany, bound for the Great War in 1914.

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