The rugged coastline of the Torndirrup National Park Albany

Sunday, Jun 29, 2014 at 21:18


On the rugged Torndirrup Peninsula you will see the features of the Torndirrup National Park, and visit the former whaling station at Whale World.

Torndirrup National Park features windswept coastal heaths, granite outcrops, sheer cliffs and steep sandy slopes and dunes. The Southern Ocean foams under a Natural Bridge in the coastal granites and formed The Gap, where the waves rush in and out with tremendous ferocity.

The Gap

This well known channel has taken lives, so treat with caution. Waves can come right up onto the surrounding rocks and the rocks can be slippery in any conditions. There is a small lookout with guardrail and going outside of this is not recommended. Even on a calm day, the swirling eddies of retreating water and no way out show the danger of the site.

The Natural Bridge

A short walk down a well made path shows the well known natural bridge, where waves foam under this arch.

Cave Point Lighthouse in the Torndirrup National Park is a short walk from a car park just off the road to The Gap. This lighthouse was built in 1976 and is the site of one of two Australian Cospas-Sarsat satellite ground receiver stations. This is an international satellite aided search and rescue system that detects emergency beacons.

Whale World: The Old Whaling Station

Well before official settlement took place our shores were visited by British, French and American whalers. Soon after the official settlement of Albany in 1826, some of the settlers set up whaling stations at a few sheltered beaches, mainly to the east of the town.

Whaling peaked around 1845 when there were approximately 300 whale ships (mostly American) and numerous shore stations operating along the South Coast of Australia. The industry waned following this period due to exploitation of the whales.

It was not until 1912 that the local whaling industry was revived when The Western Australian Government granted a license to a Norwegian company in 1912 to operate whaling stations at Frenchman Bay near Albany and Point Cloates (then known as Norwegian Bay) off North West Cape. New explosive harpoons allowed whalers to kill larger species of whales. A poor whaling season in 1916 amid pressures brought on by World War I forced the company to close down.

However around 1948 a world shortage of fats caused the price of whale oil to rise to six times the pre war price. The Albany Whaling Company operated at Frenchman's Bay east of Albany from 1947 until 1950. The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company commenced at Frenchman Bay in 1952.

Whaling was the main industry of the town for many years, finally ceasing in 1978. A visit to Albany was not complete without taking a drive to the end of Frenchman’s Bay Road on the Torndirrup Peninsula to visit the whaling station, and if the chasers had brought in a catch, you could wade on the messy and wet floor to watch the whale carcases being flensed and the blubber taken to be rendered into oil.

Following the 1978 closure of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, the buildings fell into disrepair until Whale World created a new whaling history experience, opening in September 2011.

Read more about Albany and our other Travelogues and come touring Australia with us.

Red desert dreaming

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