A trip around Twofold Bay, a vast ex­panse of blue, edged

Country Style - - JOURNEY - by na­tive bush and the­atri­cal cliffs, is a must.

Ros­alind stopped keep­ing de­tailed records a few years ago, but she’s un­equiv­o­cal about the in­crease in the num­ber of whales swim­ming by. “When we started do­ing tours 30 years ago we’d take the boat out three days a week and ev­ery Satur­day in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber and have about 15 peo­ple on board. Now, we do daily trips in sea­son and have about 60 peo­ple on board. The thrill of a close en­counter is still there af­ter all th­ese years,” she says. As in­con­ceiv­able as it seems now, in Eden whal­ing was a com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity from 1828 to the 1930s. You can dis­cover the story of the whalers and Eden’s his­tory at the Killer Whale Mu­seum, which opened in 1931. Whal­ing here was a fact, but is thank­fully no more since the In­ter­na­tional Whal­ing Com­mis­sion voted on a mora­to­rium on all com­mer­cial whal­ing in 1986, which Aus­tralia abides by. A visit to the mu­seum dur­ing whale watch­ing sea­son is of­ten in­ter­rupted by the wail of a siren, sounded when­ever a whale is sighted. Ev­ery­one rushes to the view­ing ar­eas to gush and ex­claim, stand­ing trans­fixed by the an­tics of th­ese crea­tures. Hump­back and south­ern right whales are known to put on a bit of a show when they sur­face, rolling and crash­ing around in the wa­ter. It’s a spec­tac­u­lar sight. A trip around Twofold Bay, a vast ex­panse of blue, edged by na­tive bush and the­atri­cal cliffs, is a must. You’re fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ben­jamin Boyd, an am­bi­tious Scot­tish mer­chant banker who ar­rived in the colony of NSW in 1842. He be­came one of its largest land­hold­ers and se­lected the bay as a port for his pas­toral, ship­ping and whal­ing in­ter­ests. He planned a town, Boy­d­town, on the south­ern reaches of the bay, which he hoped would be­come Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal city. Boyd’s bold am­bi­tions were never re­alised how­ever, and he ended up los­ing every­thing, in­clud­ing his back­ers’ money. There’s a pal­pa­ble sense of the un­re­alised dream at Boy­d­town, but the house that Boyd built, a ruin un­til it was res­cued in the 1930s, has sur­vived and is now the Sea­horse Inn. His name also lives on in the 10,500-hectare Ben Boyd Na­tional Park that sur­rounds Eden, as well as Boyd’s Tower, which was used as a look­out by gen­er­a­tions of whalers. This is a place of cer­e­mony and hunt­ing for the lo­cal Indige­nous peo­ple, who be­lieve or­cas to be the in­car­na­tion of their an­ces­tors. His­to­ri­ans sug­gest that Eden’s European hunters took their cue from the Abo­rig­i­nal whalers who would co-op­er­ate with or­cas, which took part in the whale hunt of their own vo­li­tion so they could feed on the whale’s tongue. The story goes like this: a pod of or­cas ar­rived in Eden ev­ery spring, recog­nised by whalers and towns­folk. Among them were Stranger, Humpy, Char­lie, Mon­tague and Tom. (It was Tom’s death in 1930 that prompted lo­cals to es­tab­lish the Killer Whale Mu­seum; his skele­ton is now on dis­play there.) The orca would drive a pass­ing whale into Twofold Bay to trap it there for whalers to spot. This re­la­tion­ship be­tween orca and whaler has not been heard of any­where else in the world. There’s much more to Eden, of course, es­pe­cially if you’re keen on seafood. You won’t taste bet­ter oysters (Eden’s on the South Coast Oys­ter Trail), and there’s a new shop on Im­lay Street, South­lands Fish Sup­plies, where you can buy fish that has come di­rectly off the ves­sels that un­load at Snug Cove Wharf. Stan Soroka smokes seafood, as well as meat, at Eden Smoke­house, which you’ll see on all the restau­rant menus. There’s also no end of na­ture to ab­sorb and plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to walk, snorkel, kayak or drive and take it all in. Once you’ve had your fill of windswept coast­lines, rugged bush­land and whal­ing his­tory, head north to ex­plore Pam­bula and Mer­im­bula. Both towns have surf and fam­ily beaches as well as beach­side cafés. You might even find your vo­cab­u­lary be­com­ing less con­stricted as you travel north, look­ing out over the rivers, la­goons, tidal flats and white sand beaches. The wa­ter is not only blue, but also turquoise, lapis, jade, cit­rine and even sap­phire.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM LEFT Stand­ing at 23 me­tres tall, Boyd's Tower was built by Ben­jamin Boyd and used as a look­out for whalers; David­son Whal­ing Sta­tion is Aus­tralia’s long­est op­er­at­ing shore-based whal­ing sta­tion; the beach sur­round­ing the tiny 1890s sta­tion. FAC­ING PAGE Eden's stun­ning As­lings Beach.

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