Confronting

I guess I never expected to feel so overwhelmed and emotional visiting the Albany Whaling Station. It is the last remaining fully in tact whaling station and a sober reminder of our cruelty to these wonderful sea centuries. Over 14,000 whales were processed here until 1978. I was devastated.

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Despite the mentality of the time that whale oil and baleen bone corsets were necessary, the sheer level of mechanical application which went into hunting the whale, harpooning it, dragging it to shore, dissecting it on the flensing decks, the blood, the bone, the barbarism was too much to bear today.

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We all stood in silent contemplation of how this beautiful place could have witnessed such senseless degradation. Confronted, we were, indeed.

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Whale Watching

All men live enveloped in whale -lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realise the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)

In keeping with our love of all things coastal – hence our garden title “CrabandFish” – not just a combination of our star signs – but a calling to all things natatorial, we embarked on a whale watching excursion.

We have foregone the wineries, chocolate factories and fine food outlets for a two hour sea-faring adventure in this part of the region of Margaret River. As our followers know, we are holidaying in one of the most ancient and magnificent regions in Australia, renowned for its ruggedness and beauty. The beauty we sought out today, was the elusive and dramatic beauty of the hump-back whale.

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Whale watching is just that – a concentration of the senses, a patient disposition and a navigational vessel that knows its waters. Our “Naturaliste” vessel took a group for forty of us out to sea and promised a sighting of whales and it did not disappoint. After a slow start – we are such impatient creatures, we humans – our first sighting appeared, albeit for only a few seconds. This was followed by not one but two diving tails and a collective, outpouring of excitement.

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We were then to begin our chase as our vessel picked up speed pursued these creatures with a frenzy – was this the excitement those whalers experienced? But how could anyone bear to end the life of these magnificent and majestic sea creatures? In the horizon we could see their spouts spewing water, their breaching, their wings and splashing tails. We gathered pace until we were surrounded by whales to the shrieks of delight from all on board.

According to the tourist brochures, Western Australia has one of the longest migratory seasons for whales – from May to December and many can be seen from the shore-line. So we were indeed privileged to witness them frolicking in these waters.

Once you have experienced seeing these grand creatures in their world, you have to marvel at the beauty of their existence. They do not threaten us but live parallel to our shore and breath and feel and nurture as we do. Let us watch them and admire them as nature’s grandest creatures.

The Caves

We have left our garden, cats and chickens for a short time to travel to Western Australia. This much awaited second trip will take us form Perth to Albany, about a six hour drive, south, staying in various locations in between. Currently, we have nestled into a beautiful bush setting overlooking Bunker Bay near Cape Naturaliste.

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After a track walk to the lighthouse with spectacular views and a fright – a little brown snake crossing our path – recovery, we reached the lighthouse with a further surprise – whales in the distance.

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Our surprises for the day, however, were only to increase.

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Who would have thought a spectacular ancient cave was just down these inconspicuous steps?
As a child I visited some caves in New Zealand but nothing like this one. Ngilgi Cave (pronounced “Nilgi) a show cave which opens up for kilometres! In a classic tale of good and evil, the aboriginal dreamtime spirit of Ngilgi now resides in the caves.

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I can tell you that it was a privilege and a rare experience to spend an hour down in these caves. The air was heavy with humidity but the main chamber was a colossal experience with stalactites from the ceiling and stalagmites as well as straws and shawls – highly recommended.

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If you ever get the opportunity to visit a limestone cave don’t pass it up.