Thursday, April 12, 2012

Whales in Eden

We drove through a little coastal fishing town called Eden in New South Wales. All the restaurants served seafood and even the hotels had fishy names like "Whale Fisher Motel". Yuriy and I stopped by one of the eateries to try raw oysters for the first time (they tasted like fishy salt water to me). That got our appetites started, and we drove to the marina and made lunch on a picnic table overlooking a sea of boats. As we were preparing lunch, a group of fishermen approached us and asked if we wanted a freshly caught salmon. Obviously we accepted, and we had ourselves a fresh salmon dinner cooked on our little stove the next day. 

Charming little Eden has quite the history, and we learned about it during our visit to the local gem of a museum called the Eden Killer Whale Museum. Turns out Eden had a major whaling station from the 1830s to the 1920s, where an incredible relationship between humans and killer whales formed. 

For years, a pack of 20-30 killer whales herded baleen whales into Twofold Bay, where whalemen with harpoons would kill them. Tom, leader of the pack, would swim to the whaling station, jump out of the water and splash around until the whalers launched a boat. Then he led the whalemen to where the baleen whale had been rounded up. As their "payment", the killer whales got to feast on the lips and huge tongue (often weighing over 4 tonnes!) of the dead baleen whale. This worked well because the humans only wanted the baleen and oil bearing blubber. Tom even towed boats holding a rope in his teeth and protected the whalemen from danger. Tom's body was found floating near the bay in 1930, and the following season, not a single killer whale showed up for hunting. With that, whaling died and Tom's skeleton is now preserved in the little museum. 

There's a book called Killers of Eden about this amazing true story, if you're interested. 

We always love a quirky little museum, especially one that has local significance, and this fit the bill perfectly! Eden was definitely a highlight of our Aussie roadtrip

- Julia

* All information in this post was taken from the museum. 

Trying raw oysters for the first time.
These fishermen shared their freshly caught salmon with us!
Eden Killer Whale Museum was a gem. Definitely a place to stop if you're driving through the area.
The skeleton of ol' Tom, a killer whale legend. 
Whale blubber cauldron.
We were pleasantly surprised to find an elderly gentleman in the basement, sending out telegrams for $2 within Australia and $4 around the world. There are still people who know how to do this??
Eden resident Mr Phil McGrath generously volunteers his time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to teach people about Morse Code and transmit telegrams.
The telegram equipment dates from 1868 to 1891.
Thanks for a good time, Eden! More to come from our road trip.