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Monday, February 17: Day 301 – On to a New Continent

Our flight from Singapore to Perth was on Scoot Airlines. This budget airline charged for checked bags and served no food or beverages. Rob said that it was still cheaper. He ordered off a menu.

I read that this airline flies to Wuhan, China. I wonder if they thoroughly disinfected the airplanes in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

We have flown a lot this year and have not considered the debate of whether one should recline the seat or not? To recline or not to recline? That is the question…all over social media.

Our feeling is that the seats are meant to be reclined or the seats would not give you an option. I try to slowly recline so the person behind me can make adjustments.

One time I had someone wake me up to ask me to put my seat up during the meal. On this flight we were on the back row so we could recline at will.

We ordered a rental car. Originally, Rob wanted to drive 4 hours to our first highlight once we landed late at night. I said NO. It is already going to be a challenge to drive on the left hand side.

This was a prophetic warning for sure as we have since been told that one should not drive at night since there are 40 million kangaroos, and they are mostly seen at night. Particularly dangerous is dawn and dusk. They come to the roads in search of water that drains off into the side ditches.

In America, we have the notion of “deer in the headlights” which means that when a deer sees you, he freezes in his tracks. When a kangaroo sees you, he hops toward you.


“Who’s gonna see the first kangaroo?
Is it gonna be me or is it gonna be you?”

We are having a contest to see who can see the first kangaroo!! I just hope that isn’t on the road. I saw a dead one alongside the road, but we didn’t think that should count.

Anyway we got a hotel near the airport called Ingot. It was a harrowing white knuckle ride for Rob with constant directives from me “Stay left.” “Turn left, stay left.” Phew!! We arrived.
The hotel manager greeted us by saying, “Do I detect an accent?”

I replied. “Well, I think that YOU have the accent.” “Well done,” he said and shook my hand. He gave us a gold ingot that was full of chocolate. At one time, there was a gold rush here. Cute and yummy.

On our four-hour drive to Albany, we saw a few interesting things:

An electronic sign that said VBFB Day. That means Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade. I wonder how that day is celebrated surely with great fanfare in light of the recent devastating wildfires. I heard on the radio that they were recruiting backpackers to come help with reconstruction.

A “road train” means a truck with several cars attached so they are very long.

Lowflying Aircraft: No Standing in This Area – Wow! How low can they go that this sign is needed!

Western Australian Black Spot Project – I saw this sign and thought maybe they had a tree blight. An Internet search revealed that it is a government program to improve safety on the highways and reduce crashes on Australian roads.  I am still a little fuzzy about the black spot.

We saw these signs everywhere. This picture looked like beware of children crossing the highway. We saw no sign of humans anywhere let alone children. In fact, we would only see a car every fifteen minutes.

We later learned that it was a bus stop. Still, we see no sign of life or houses.

Barker Road House. A road house is where one can get food and drink and use the bathroom on the lonely stretch of road.

Blue painted trees. We occasionally see a dead tree with its trunk painted blue?? The person who started this wanted people to inquire, ” Why is that dead tree painted blue?” It worked.

I learned that it is kind of a memorial of someone with depression…to remind people to talk about mental health.

Blue Trees?

Blue Tree Project

The weather is always hot, but inside their air conditioning is more like refrigeration. Rob and I always pack a winter jacket. Ertunga, our guide in Turkey, said that when guiding tourists from Southeast Asia, he had to wear a coat in the car since they wanted it COLD.

I was a little warm in our Grab (like Uber) ride, and I asked the driver if I could crack the window. He was confused because he had the air conditioning on. I told him that I was an old lady and my temperature changes. Ahhh! He understood.

The music in Western Australia seems to be from the past. I don’t know if they just like the oldies, or if it takes that long to arrive all the way out here. Cell service is hard to come by.

Ebony Eyes by Bob Welch
Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees
Reunited by Peaches and Herb
Greatest Love by Whitney Houston
Bennie and the Jets by Elton John

The town of Albany is on the map because of the whaling industry. People had whale bones and scrimshaw which is etchings into whalebone. In fact, many field trips are taken to the whaling station. Everyone depended on the whales.

The first people to hunt whales were the Japanese in the first century A.D. The Basque region of Spain and Norwegians were next to take on the whales 1,000 years later. It is hard to imagine how small rowboats could accomplish this dangerous task. Other countries followed.

Albany has a whaling museum where you can see the whole whaling process from start to finish. As a food scientist, I am always interested in the process. I am glad that we now have synthetic oils that can be used instead. Many people like “natural” and not synthetic, but I think EVERYONE can agree on this move to save this giant of the sea.

Trigger warning for our readers: Pictures, videos, and content might be difficult for some readers.

There is a whaling boat that can be boarded. It is hard to imagine how a group of men in a small boat can manuever and catch a whale.First they spotted a whale. One man in the crows nest could spot one five kilometers away and called out, “Thar she blows.” The chase was on with a reply from the captain to the engine room, “Full speed ahead.” (Later airplane spotters were used. One whaler said that at that point, the whales never stood a chance.)

Whaling took place from March until late November. The whalers would start at 2am and return after dark. They might not find any whales or they might find as many as 23.

Once a whale was spotted, they used a harpoon. Ideally, the whaler wanted to kill the whale in one shot. However, in reality, it took more to ease their suffering.

Once the whale was dead, they puffed it full of compressed air so that it wouldn’t sink, and they put a marker on it for pickup.

There are five huge whale oil tanks.
Whale oil was superior for using in oil lamps, and it did not produce smoke. (One might say that whales benefitted by the invention of electricity.)

Whale oil was also used in paint, detergent, waterproofing, lipsticks, margarine, and lubrication to name a few. Whale oil is still in use in countries where whales are still hunted. However, demand is low due to synthetics.

The ship was powered by an oil steam engine. These are found in merchant marine and navy ships. There were two of them on the Titanic.

Flense is a new word for me, and I challenge you to use this Norwegian word in everyday conversation. Flense means to cut away the blubber from a whale or seal. Blubber prevents the whale blood from freezing. It is very valuable for turning into oil.

Anyway, here is the flensing deck complete with a giant cutting board.

A winch could drag 3 to 4 whales up by the tail on this deck for processing. This needed to occur soon after the whale was dead. A dead whale attracted sharks that ate parts of the whale and resulted in the loss of product. There were gunmen who would shoot the sharks. Sometimes the sharks would still be attached to the whale when it was winched onto the flensing deck.

It took two men to remove blubber. They made longitudinal cuts on both sides. The men wore spiked cleats that penetrated the slippery blubber. Then a cut was made across the back to connect the longitudinal cuts.

They put a hook in the head and used chains to drag it to the upper deck. The jaw was sent to the cooker to soften the teeth which were sold like ivory.

Then the whale was rolled over and the process was repeated. Next the flippers were removed with the ribs attached.

The deck was smelly but many of the workers had previously been abattoir workers. (I had to look that up. It means slaughterhouse.)

The favorite food of the sperm whale is the giant squid which can be 25 to 50 feet long. The whale dives 700 feet deep and slows his heart rate by 50%. The dark prevents the whale from seeing. He uses a type of echo location by making clicks like sonar up to 200dB which stuns the squid. The whale has teeth only on the lower jaw. He swallows the giant squid whole. Here is the skeleton of the last sperm whale that was caught.
The Blue whale is the largest whale. I asked why this one wasn’t hunted. It is too fast and the oil is different. Each whaling station hunted and processed only one type of whale because one can’t mix the oils.

In 1977, Greenpeace mounted worldwide protests to Save the Whales. Zodiac was the name of the boat that kept trying to interfere with the whaling process.

At that time the future of the whaling industry was questionable. Whales were getting harder to find, demand for whale oil was low, old boats were needing greater maintenance, regulations got stricter, and synthetics could be substituted for whale products. Whaling in Australia had run its course. Greenpeace had revealed that the slaughter of whales was not humane. Career whalers wondered, “What are we gonna do?”

Albany was a town that depended on the whale industry. One could hardly miss the smell that came into town. There was a 10-year economic impact.

In 1978 the whaling stopped as there was a ban on hunting whales in Australia.

The humpback whale is a baleen whale and was put on the endangered list in 1963. After that whalers’ attention went to the  larger sperm whale. The sperm whale is a toothed whale that resides on the continental shelf. Approximately 15,000 sperm whales were killed and processed.

Today the number of whales in the oceans of Australia is healthy, and the only ones shot are done with a camera!!

Sadly, other countries have increased their whaling efforts. Norway is the leader followed by Japan.

Current Whaling

Whale Books

Ches Stubbs wrote a book called I Remember: The Memoirs of a Whaling Skipper. He was the skipper of the whaling boat in Albany. One day the harpoon rope wrapped around his lower leg and it snapped it right off. The spotter pilot flew him to medical attention and his life was spared. He wore a wooden leg and went back to whaling for another 10 years. He had a peg leg and his last name was Stubbs. How ironic!


Albany is also the location that ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops mustered before sailing off to the Great War now known as WWI. There is a museum in Albany that tells about the many men and their horses who left from this spot. The use of periscopes were invaluable in trench warfare. There is an annual dawn service where a wreath is floated out to sea to commemorate those men who never returned.

Two convoys of ANZAC ships left from Albany. Thirty-eight ships (28 Australian and 10 from New Zealand) departed on November 1, 1914. These ships carried 29,000 men and women and 7,000 horses. The first convoy was escorted by four military ships. Most of the town’s population turned out to watch them leave – quite a spectacle! For many of the departing troops, Albany was to be their last view of Australia.

By the time the second convoy left in December, most of the German ships in the Indian Ocean had been eliminated. In fact, the second convoy used two German ships that had been captured.

Some of the ships were bound for Egypt and then Gallipoli in Turkey. ANZAC troops eventually helped capture Palestine and Jerusalem. Here is a photo of ANZAC troops on the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Giza (Cairo).
In 1915 the allies sought to break the stalemate in Europe by attempting to capture Constantinople, knock the Ottoman Empire from the war, and link up with Russian forces through the Black Sea.

After a failed naval attempt in March to seize the Dardanelles, the 60-kilometre-long strait linking the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara, a land expedition was planned.

On April 25 British forces landed at Cape Helles on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula and French forces at Kum Kale on the opposite Asian shore. Simultaneously, Australians and New Zealanders – the ‘ANZACs’ – landed from boats on a remote beach on the western side of the peninsula. Men scrambled ashore to engage the Ottomans in the surrounding hills, but the defenders yielded little ground.

Eight months of bitter fighting followed, but little of military value was gained. Conditions on the peninsula were harsh, and there was no escaping the enemy’s attention. However, throughout their ordeal the ANZACs displayed courage, endurance and mateship. Such qualities came to be called ‘the ANZAC spirit’.

In August there were attempts to rescue the campaign from stalemate with a series of fresh attacks, but again the gains were few and the losses severe.

People at home avidly read accounts of their countrymen’s heroism and achievements, but these rarely revealed the terrible waste, the constant stress, the squalor of the trenches, or the mismanagement of the campaign.

Poppies grew up over the battlegrounds and have served as a reminder of the losses endured in wartime and are used to this day.

The first world war claimed the lives of 18,500 New Zealanders and 61,500 Australians. Most were buried overseas near the battlefields in Belgium, France, Turkey, and the Middle East.

Below is a a cigarette case given by Turkish President Kemal Atatürk to Australian Prime Minister Stanley Bruce in 1934. Both were at Gallipoli but on opposite sides. They met at a conference in Switzerland dealing with reconstruction after the Great War. Bruce treasured this gift and their friendship.
During the last nine months of WWI, an even bigger killer appeared, the Spanish Flu. It didn’t originate in Spain, but Spain wasn’t censoring the news reports so it received notoriety there. The flu infected 500 million people worldwide and killed 50 to 100 million in 1918 and 1919 (675,000 died in the US). About 20 million people, military and civilian, died in WWI. Troop movements helped spread the disease.

The photo below shows people wearing masks during the flu in 1919. This looks similar to what we saw in Southeast Asia a couple of weeks ago because of the current coronavirus/COVID-19.

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