Saturday, 13 December 2014

Eden - Tears and Killer Whales

Snug Cove today - looking beautiful, bright and sunny. 
What you can't see is the wind blowing, this time it's changed direction from South to North.

Looking down main street in Eden, New South Wales.   
Eden is a lovely little town on the far south coast of New South Wales.  There is a good deal of history here and an excellent Killer Whale museum with an unbelievable story behind its creation - which I'll get to in just a minute.  First a quick word on tears.

Fear is a funny thing.  It can permeate every thought or, in my case yesterday, fear built up into something that suddenly became overwhelming.  Hence the tears.

I think it started when our RPAYC fellow Tassie cruisers on the boat 'Bogart' - who were anchored next to us - woke us at 7 am as they headed out to cross Bass Strait.  They did two circles of Southern Belle with all of us shouting our greetings into the stiff southerly wind - "Goodbye", "Have a Great Trip", "See You Soon", "Be Careful".  Then they turned, hoisted the mainsail and were away out of the harbour. 

For some reason that started a cascade of thoughts in my head.  Thoughts about wanting to see our friends again, thoughts about us doing the same thing and thoughts about mountainous seas and unrelenting winds.  I couldn't shake it but kept all those "horror" thoughts to myself all day.  Then about 4:30 the dam burst.  George asked me what was wrong and I just exploded.  I had a very good cry complete with sobbing.  For me it was cathartic.  For George it was awful.  Poor thing.  At one stage I was going home on the next bus.  But conversations with George and friends plus a few glasses of soothing wine and I went to bed feeling better.  Today, with swollen eyes and looking like a wreck, I'm better.  My courage, what there is of it, has returned and in spite of the fear I'm going to do it anyway.  Tomorrow we head out to cross Bass Strait.  I sincerely hope it isn't half as bad as I've imagined it to be.

The Eden Killer Whale Museum.
We spent a couple of hours in The Killer Whale Museum today and it is well worth a visit.  The story behind its development is an amazing tale of animals and man working together for the benefit of each other.  I have to tell you about it!  None of these animals were trained .. they just worked out a way to partner with men on shore to get the food they wanted.

During the last of the 1800's and early 1900's there was a shore based whaling operation here in Eden.  This particular operation was unique because the whalers and the killer whales worked together to kill other whales.  Pods of killer whales returned each year to work with the shore based men.  One of them in particular was called "Old Tom" and he was the most enthusiastic leader of a pod. 

The killer whales would herd whales into Twofold Bay and then they would alert the whalemen of their prey's arrival by tail flopping to encourage them to launch their whale boats.  Sometimes "Old Tom" would get impatient with the men in the boats and actually grab a rope and tow them out to the poor whale victims.  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 men would put floats on the carcass and then leave it so the killer whales could take their reward.  They would only eat the animal's tongue and lips.  Then the whalers would come back and collect what was left for meat, oil, etc.

Sadly one day a fisherman found the body of "Old Tom" floating in the bay.  They kept his skeleton and mounted it.  Then in 1939 the museum was built around Tom's remains, his story and the story of the whaling history of Eden.  Amazingly you can see Tom's teeth that were worn down from towing out the whaling boats!

I'm an animal lover and this story really got me.  One day the human species will wake up to the fact - I hope soon - that we're all in this together and the sooner we move toward respecting our environment and the creatures we share our planet with the better for all!!!


  1. We are anchored near Eagle Point in the gippsland lakes thinking of you and George and your trip ahead. It will be great! Enjoy it and keep ousting.
    Terry and Mary aboard "Escape"

    1. Hey there Terry and Mary! Thank you for your thoughts and well wishes. Appreciate them very much. Enjoy "Escape" and the lakes. We'll keep you posted on the next phase of our 'adventure'. All the best.

  2. If you haven't already, download a copy of Where Wild Winds Blow which contains a fascinating historical account of Eden. Across the is the original settlement founded by Benjamin Boyd in 1843 to service his properties. He also started a shipping company based there, and a bank. His disappearance has never been properly explained.

  3. This story reminds me of the Star Trek episodes where the whales for the key to saving the planet earth. Great storytelling Gail!