Published: January 28th 2012January 9th 2012
Cheyne Beach/ Albany
Leaving Hopetoun we retraced our route back towards Albany to Cheyne Beach. We had intended to go to Bremer Bay which we understand is another great spot along the coast. However as it is a 70klm one way trip in off the main coast road I decided to ring first to ensure that we could get a site. “yes we can accommodate you on those dates sir” “great” I reply “and how much is a site?” (In the Top Tourist Park book they quote prices of $32 - $38/night) His reply was apologetic..” well, it is our high season and Uhmm the price for a powered site will be…Uhmm…$60 per night” “right” I say, “then I guess you know what you can do with your site then as we are on a budget” “yes, I fully understand’ he replies !!! So, Cheyne here we come and what a beautiful little bay and beach this was. Situated within the Waychinicup National Park, the caravan park is bigger than the actual hamlet of Cheyne Beach and also has the only shop and a fuel stop. I think I counted 15 homes in two rows behind
this pristine white ‘squeaky’ sand beach with sapphire blue waters. Purely a holiday destination, as the camp ground demonstrated being near fully booked out swelling this tiny spots population to probably 1000 people. Whilst here we heard about a great 4WD track through the dunes that took you to Back Beach and a lookout. Yep, it was 4WD only and it was very loose fine sand, so after letting the tyres down to 15PSI we struck out and had a great time sand driving and seeing these amazing places…and we did not get stuck once!
30 Klm down the road was Albany where we wanted to see some more of the ‘older’ buildings and visit Whale World a living museum. At this point we would refer you all back to a previous Blog posted on the 20th
Dec 2011, ‘Walpole to Albany’ regarding some of the early history of Albany. After visiting the Information centre to get a few directions and info we set off up the main street for coffee where we experienced a vibrant waterfront café culture. The coffee, according to Trish, was excellent but I noticed that for once we had no muffin to accompany our
Back Beach in Waychinicup National Park
beverage! On inquiring, I was politely told by Trish, ‘It was $7 for a muffin and $7.50 for raisin toast” !!! Again tourist season seems to bring out the best in retailers! After a pleasant wander through the shops and looking at some of the older buildings in Brunswick Terrace we headed off to Whale World which is located at Frenchman’s Bay.
Entry to Australia’s last whaling Station and now a museum was $28 each and some of my Scottish heritage came out, ( Brian ‘Jimmy’ Dobbie you would have been proud of me!), but I have to admit this was probably the best museum I have been in. Whale World is on the site of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Companies’ whaling station. Once an industrial site to rend whales to useable products, the station has been transformed into the regions unique premier heritage tourist attraction, taking us through an emotional journey of Australian whaling at the site of Australia’s last whaling station. I can truthfully say I was quite shocked at what I saw and read and ‘emotional’ only begins to describe how I felt when standing on the cutting deck and going in the oil storage tanks
Sand driving - Waychinicup National Park
(now educational theatres), I can admit to the fact that I had to go outside and just sit down, I found it quite upsetting.
On the 21st
November 1978, the whale chasers returned to the town jetty for the last time after 26 years of successful operation. Over a century of whaling in Australian waters had come to an end…thank goodness! Cheynes IV whale chaser is the centrepiece of the station/museum and we found going through the ship a great experience and we found on the second deck ‘Jimmy’s’ cabin !! It had Chief Engineer on the door so it must have been his, although the bunk looked a bit narrow ! (for all that are reading this, “Jimmy’ is a Scottish friend that lives in Banbury, UK, who we met on our overland trip in 1978. He has recently retired from the Merchant Navy). You can walk all through the restored station visiting the Flensing Deck, where the blubber was stripped from the whales, the cutting up deck, processing factory with the huge cookers used to reduce the whale to liquid to extract the oil. There is a skeleton exhibit with a 22 mtr pigmy blue
Waychinicup National Park
whale and other marine skeletons. Theatres showing Australian whaling, life of a whaling family and other historical footage have been created within each of the three oil storage tanks. There is a photo exhibition and café as well as all the original buildings, mess hut, cooks house, ablution block, splicing shed etc restored to recreate the times, overall there are more than 20 exhibits to explore making for a full day out. So… the words “Thar she Blows” have been written into the history books and I believe every whaling supporter should visit this site.
There are more photos below