I had been fishing out of Eden before. Caught a charter and came back with heaps of Nanygai, Morwong and a few other species, all adding up to a delicious feed that night at our B&B.
This time I was on the same boat, albeit with new owners and about 5 years later. It was only to be assumed I would get a different result. My sum total was two fish, though the first of them was barely a match for my bait in size. The second was a very nice flathead but, at $100 for the charter, it was a very expensive fish.
However, there's apt to be more to a trip than just fish and so it turned out. I had a wonderful experience with an albatross that honed in on us and I managed to get a few snaps off before he flew to bluer oceans, the nautical equivalent of greener fields I assume.
The other thing that happened was that our skipper asked if we wanted to go and see the whale breaching. We declined the offer but I, for one, regretted that decision when, five minutes later, I noticed that the whale was fully coming out of the water; something that isn't all that common. Damn!
Australia has an internationally famous yacht race called the Sydney to Hobart. The last place of refuge on the New South Wales coast for boats in trouble is Eden and it is expected that every year some boats will put in here.
One of its main attractions is that getting in there doesn't involve crossing a treacherous river mouth and associated sand bars.
Lots of storm tossed and sea sick sailors have fond memories of Eden, hence the name of the refuge: "Snug Cove" - part of the larger Twofold Bay.
One yacht skipper, Geoff Boettcher, had retired so many times to this refuge he once stated when he made it to Hobart, “They call me The Mayor of Eden. (This time) I drew a big arc around Eden (on the chart) and said to the guys, ‘we’re not going in there!’.”
I couldn't help notice the breakwall when I was returning from my fishing excursion. It appeared as some modern sculpture dropped in the water and I wondered if it couldn't be made into some sort of attraction by itself.
When the trawler "Shiralee" went down with all hands in August, 1978 the good townsfolk realised there was no memorial to any of such disasters and so this wall and garden was born overlooking the entrance to the bay where the trawlers come and go.
This from a plaque at the museum:
"..the male patients are placed in the whale in a nude condition while the female sufferer was covered with a loose gown. They remained in the whale for about an hour and a half on this occasion, the temperature of the carcass staying at about 105 degress (40 celcius). The heat is greater in some whales than in others and sometimes patients are exhausted before they are in an hour, while in some cases they can remain for several hours.
The three patients above all speak in very favourable terms of the operation....and may go through the same treatment again. They don't seem to think they will be perfectly cured by the operation but the prospect of their relief even is sufficient to induce them to try again.
There is not the slightest doubt as to the treatment having benefited them to some extent even when all other alleged remedies have been tried in vain.
About the most remarkable cure effected by the treatment was the case of a man from Bega. When he first arrived here he was obliged to walk with sticks; but after one trial of the whale treatment he was so much benefited that he was able to walk back to Bega. He also walked back from Bega a second time for treatment. Another case is Mrs. Stubbs of Towamba who derived great benefit from the remedy.
No-one seems to know for certain what is in the whale that gives such relief, but the general opinion is that the virtue is contained not in the oil but in certain gases which accumulate in the whale's carcass as decomposition sets in. Dr. Eddie of Bombala was very favourably impressed with the results of this method of treatment which he compared to a huge poultice opening the pores of the skin.
Great care has to be exercised by the patients after coming out......renders them specially liable to colds and chill.." Ripley eat your heart out.
The Killer Whale Museum is certainly one of the most unique museums in Australia.
Situated on a hillside on the corner of Imlay and Cocora Streets in Eden the building depicts the history of whaling in the local area.
The highlight of the exhibition is the story of a killer whale known locally as 'Tom' and his fellow killers who were responsible for herding whales into Twofold Bay. This unprecedented display of working with man is well documented.
Herding the whales in and being fed the offcuts by the whale workers is a tale that may be unique in the world.
This particular shore-based whaling operation was special in the co-operation between the whalers and a pack of killer whales which returned each year. These killer whales which were identified individually by special markings, Tom, Hooky, Humpy and Stranger would herd the baleen whales into Twofold Bay. They would alert the whalers of their prey’s arrival by “flop-tailing”, (thrashing the water with their tails), and the chase would be on.
After the whale was harpooned, some of the killers would expedite its death by rolling over its blowhole to stop it breathing, and others would swim below it to prevent it sounding.
When the whale was dead, the killers would take the tongue and lips as their reward and leave the carcass for the whalers to bring ashore. Whaling from Twofold Bay continued until the late 1920’s, by which time, on this scale, it certainly could not have been a profitable concern. The last whale was taken in 1928.
Tom’s body was found in Twofold Bay on 17th September, 1930. His remains were treated and his ORCA skeleton is now on exhibition in the ‘Davidson Gallery’ at the Eden Killer Whale Museum.
He was found deceased in the bay in 1930 and his skeleton has been successfully preserved. The building contains other items, details and booklets about this aspect of local history and also takes bookings for water cruises. The museum also offers fine views of the bay from the gallery.
The Eden whaling museum is a stones throw from the Crown and Anchor Inn.
While I find whaling itself highly objectionable, this, nonetheless, was an interesting exploration of an activity that once sustained this community. Indeed, it was responsible for its very existence.
"Old Tom" was a killer whale who was known to assist the local whalers in their hunting activities. His behavior was reenforced by the whalers allowing the lips and tongues of the prey to be eaten by Old Tom and his companions. (Apparently lips and tongue are delicacies to some palates). Thus, Old Tom became a whaler and assisted the whalers of Eden for decades.
Uopn his death, his body was discovered in the bay and it was decided to make him a permanent part of Eden's population. You can see Old Tom's skeleton at the whaling museum.
The absolute highlight of our visit to Eden was a half-day whale watching cruise on the catamaran 'Cat Balou'.
Heading out from Eden Wharf we passengers were all put to work scanning the horizon for the "blow" which would indicate whales in the vicinity. Once spotted the boat would then head towards the general location and idle there, waiting for the whales to re-surface.
Which they certainly did! First a small pod of 3-4 young whales appeared. The Cat Balou pilot was scrupulous in trying to maintain a responsible distance from the whales, in order not to scare them. But this pod appeared totally unconcerned by our presence and amused themselves by submerging and reappearing on either side and directly in front of the boat, as if they were rounding us up like sheep.
After following the young whales along the coast for about 20 minutes, Cat Balou staff received a telephone report of a mother and calf playing off the coast north of our location, towards Merimubula. We turned around and headed that way and and arrived in plenty of time for the most incredible display of athletics. Both mother and calf were playing wildly, leaping from the water so that the whole of their huge bodies were exposed before descending with a huge splash. They performed every trick imaginable - lying on their sides and "clapping" their fins together; flicking their beautiful tail fins; and at one stage leaping from the water in unison with perfect timing that would be the envy of any synchronised swimming team.
As the mother and calf were heading south, we slowly followed them back along the coast, laughing and exclaiming at their marvellous antics. Finally, however, we were back in the vicinity of Two Fold Bay and at the end of our cruise so we had to turn away and leave them to go on their way.
It was a truly wonderful experience to be so close to these creatures and somehow good for the soul to be able to watch them at play and share a little in their apparent joy in life. I'd highly recommend it for young and old.
Merimbula Aquarium is really worth a look.
It's undergone new ownership in the past couple of years by a guy I know, Anthony, from my home town in Victoria, who's also the son of a woman I worked with for 10 years.
He left his long time job in a bank in slightly chilly (by comparison) Victoria to go and manage the Aquarium with his partner in sunny Merimbula....but not only that, he also swims in the tank with the sharks!!! (Luckily his mother is already grey - she was really a bit worried!)
Really a career change from banking (and being a 'loan shark' LOL!)
Anyway, the best time to visit the Aquarium is at fish and shark feeding time. There are many interesting fish to see. There's also a nice restaurant upstairs.
On the roadway on the other side to where the museum is located there are some pleasant views out over Twofold Bay and, here and there, you will see the residences of "those who can afford".