A Whale of a Time

It had been snowing in the Porongorup National Park, about 40km from Albany, in the last day or so, so I had been expecting cold, windy weather for this trip. It wasn’t cold yesterday and this morning dawned another bright blue sky, so maybe we were in luck with the weather gods.

After a simple breakfast, we decided to do some sightseeing, starting with the Albany’s Historic Whaling Station at Frenchmans Bay.

Whaling was one of Western Australia’s first industries and if you’re interested, you can read more about the history of whaling in Western Australia here.

The Cheynes Beach Whaling Station was built in the 1950’s and was the last whaling station in Australia to close, in 1978. The industry had fallen victim to over-exploitation. An anti-whaling policy followed a year later.

The museum grounds seem to be left fairly intact and you can visit the Splicing Shed, Captain’s Mess and various other intact processing buildings where the whales were processed into ‘different bits’, once caught.

There’s a large display of whaling technology and equipment on display, as well as photos and film footage on display inside the old converted whale oil silos. But perhaps the jewel in the museum’s crown is the Cheynes IV whaling vessel, wedged on the shoreline.

I spent a fair amount of time exploring Cheynes IV. You can climb all over the ship, and not much is off limits to curious hands, which makes it an interesting experience for kids of all ages.

And on a day like today, there’s a fabulous view from the stern.

Another highlight is the shed full of whale skeletons. I marvelled at the size of the pigmy whale skeleton, noting I could stand inside it’s mouth with no problem.

Or at least fit my head inside this smaller whale.

The museum is the only one of its kind in the world. Open 7 days a week. To get the most out of the museum, you can catch a 40 minute guided tour. Alternatively, you can wander around on your own.

At $32 a ticket for adults, I thought it was quite expensive, but I imagine that the upkeep on a museum such as this doesn’t come cheaply.

For lunch we made our way to Denmark, a forty minute drive away, where we had reservations at The Lakehouse Winery.

The Denmark wine region is home to over twenty five cool climate vineyards producing award-winning, world-class wines.

1996, Producing Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir styled wines since the Vineyard was planted in 1996, The Lakehouse also stocks a range of wine inspired spa items, gourmet food and gifts. And you’d be a fool not to stop and enjoy a glass or two of wine, with one of their amazing platters.

For the ultimate experience you can choose from a selection of four platters, all tailored to two or three people and all convertable to a set menu with soup and cake. We chose the Madison Vineyard Platter, which was filled with Mount Barker smoked chicken, Vinofood beetroot & shiraz relish, local cherry wood smoked leg ham, Vinofood seeded chardonnay mustard, fig, prune & merlot mustard, Italian cacciatore sausage, vegetable frittata, seasonal dip, antipasto bowl, cheese selection; Capel club cheddar, Dellendale double cream brie, Vinofood wine jelly, semillon pickled pears and fig, apple & chardonnay chutney, house baked croutons, seasonal leaves with Vinofood riesling pickled vegetables, grape seed oil vinaigrette and house baked bread. And, of course, washed down with a bottle of their Chardonnay.

It was a glorious day, the sun warming us almost too nicely – perfect weather for good wine and good times.

To end our day and satisfy my craving for quirky tourism, we stopped to take a photo in front of dog rock, which as you can see is a rock shaped like a dog. Albany was really ticking a lot of boxes for me.

To end the day, we travelled up to Mt Clarence to catch the Field of Light: Avenue of Honour immersive light display, now in its final days.

The concept, created by Bruce Munro, lines Albany’s Avenue of Honour with 16,000 light spheres, some white, yellow and some green, paying homage to those soldiers who left from Albany to fight in World War I. The lights are best seen after the sun has set, but be warned they are difficult to photograph well! Quite the remarkable tribute.

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