An October 2003 trip
to Perth by iandsmith
Quote: We had some points from "frequent fliers" to use and thought we would go to Western Australia. Unfortunately, the airline collapsed, but we went anyway. We were able to use them on car hire, and I had a couple of Best Western free nights, so off we went.
There are three in the area: the Millennium Tree is the highest and the Gloucester Tree the best known and most popular. They are all Karri trees, famous worldwide for their height and magnificence, and deservedly so. The reason there are metal stakes driven into the trees is to provide fire lookouts, still in use occasionally today, but not as much as in the past.
The Gloucester tree climb is about 60m and involves clambering up 153 rungs to the top. On the way, you are likely, as I did, to meet people of all nationalities. In my case, Brits, Canadians, and Swedes. Very cosmopolitan.
You get slugged A$9 to enter the area, but, hey, where else can you do something like this? It is not for those who suffer vertigo, but it is nowhere as scary as you might think. Though three people have died climbing, none of the deaths were from falling. We're talking heart attacks here.
The area is all part of a large national park, and the forests are some of the world's finest. It's the reason I wanted to go to W.A., and I wasn't disappointed.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 3, 2005
Up the Pole
During the tour, you learn interesting statistics. For instance, there is apparently the unfounded belief that whaling was stopped due to environmentalist concerns, but a more cogent argument was the $18,000,000 needed to replace the aging fleet. Another statistic is that a sperm whale produces 6 tonne of oil and needs a tonne of squid or cuttlefish per day when feeding. It was the best oil ever produced and has been replaced by the slightly inferior oil from the Jehova Plant from Mexico that requires 40 plants to produce 1 tonne of oil.
When a whale breaches, it can exchange 95% of its oxygen requirements in 2 seconds. This is one of the old whale chasers, Cheynes IV, now permanently stuck on the shore for tourists to crawl all over.
The whaling station was located in Frenchman's Bay, a beautiful semicircular body of translucent waters and squeaky white sand, shown here with the stern of the Cheynes IV above where it used to roam. Inside the museum is a model of Cheyne II constructed from 9,600 matches! The museum attracts over 70,000 visitors per annum and is the main tourist venue in the town.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2005
Albany Whaling Museum
Frenchman's Bay, Albany
The tension of expectation was paramount onboard, especially after our first fin was sighted. It was small and didn't vary in its profile above the surface. Clearly this was something else. A 3m hammerhead was something else that dogged us for about 4 minutes before it cut across our stern and revealed its full shape in the clear, sun-kissed waters of the ocean.
Then, off our starboard bow, the first flukes appeared, giving rise to a frustration of wanting to be there beside them, but knowing they were still a few kilometres away.
We did rendezvous with them, at first with a mother and calf, and then later with a threesome.
By law (how they could possibly enforce it is a mystery), you are required to stay 100m from the beasts. However, when you are stationary and they come to you, well, that's a different matter. As one went under the boat, I, for one, definitely got a bit excited.
Then one of them waved one of its side fins at us, but the best was yet to come.
Right before our bow this leviathan’s head slowly rose and broke the surface, rising vertically before our wondrous gaze. Everyone, in a spontaneous, unforgettable moment, broke out in applause. That's the sort of effect it has on you. The maneuver is called a spy hop, but I prefer eyeball-to-eyeball, and as you've already gathered, I'm recommending it!