Whaling was carried out using harpoons from small boats and once caught the whales were towed behind the boat to onshore whaling stations.
One of the first commercial whaling operations in Australia was the Davidson Whaling Station, located just outside of Eden, on the South-East coast of New South Wales. Numerous other coastal whaling stations were established around Australia in the late 1820s and 1830s.
The development of harpoon guns, explosive harpoons and steam-driven whaling boats in the late 19th century made large-scale commercial whaling so efficient that many whale species were over-exploited and came very near to extinction.
As whale numbers dropped, laws were passed to protect a number of the species and the over-exploitation eventually led to the demise of the whaling industry in Australia. Whale protection for certain species started in the 1930s after the effects of whaling on whale populations became apparent. Whaling stations in Australia and New Zealand killed more than 40,000 Southern Humpback Whales on their migrations from the Antarctic Ocean to the warm tropical waters north of Australia. Whaling ceased on Humpback whales in 1963, and they were protected worldwide in 1965 after recognition of a dramatic global decline in numbers.
Commercial whaling continued on sperm whales until 1978, with 16,000 taken from 1952 in Australian waters until the end of commercial whaling in 1978. Commercial whaling in Australia officially ceased in 1978 with the closure of Australia's last whaling station, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, in Western Australia. In 1979 Australia adopted an anti-whaling policy, putting a permanent end to whaling in Australian waters.
At the same time Australia started to focus heavily on working towards the international protection and conservation of whales. Since the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling came in to place in 1986, many whale populations have begun to recover. The Southern Right Whale, which was nearly extinct by the middle of the nineteenth century, is now showing signs of recovery. In recent years, growing numbers have appeared off the southern Australian coast, where breeding and socialising behaviour occurs before they head south to feed in the nutrient-rich Antarctic waters.
Fraser Island’s traditional Butchulla people knew a thing or two when it came to naming some of the landmark spots on Fraser’s western beach. Awinya Creek translates to ‘whale tail’ and Wathumba Creek, slightly to the north means ‘where the whales blow’.
The lifecycle of the Southern Humpback whale brings them into Hervey Bay on Queensland’s Fraser Coast. They leave the rich feeding grounds of Antarctica in May and make the annual 6000 kilometre journey to the breeding grounds in the warm waters of the Whitsundays, north of Fraser Island. Some of the females will give birth, while the others will mate.
After spending a short period of time in the Whitsunday area the whales start the long journey south, many of them coming into Platypus Bay, on the sheltered lee side of Fraser, for as long as five days, some staying for only a day – and some within coo-ee of Wathumba and Awinya.
Whale Watching In Hervey Bay
Brian Perry and wife Jill pioneered Whale Watching in Hervey Bay back in 1987 with a small classified ad in the local paper. Two years later, Hervey Bay’s whale-rich waters were declared a marine park to protect its natural resources; these days Hervey Bay is the whale watch capital of Australia and maritime law sets a 100-metre exclusion zone on tourist boats approaching whales.
This year, Brian and Jill and other local skippers will take an estimated 80,000 – 100,000 people whale watching in these waters. To celebrate the start of the season, Kingfisher Bay Resort has released a Whale Watching package from just $379 per person and include two nights at Kingfisher Bay on Fraser's western side with a BONUS third night free, hot buffet breakfast daily, return passenger ferry transfers ex River Heads and a half-day whale watch cruise with Captain Brian. There's also a BONUS third night free.
Click here for our Whales and Fraser deal or call 1800 072 55 (toll free in Australia). You call also follow the Humpback action on Facebook.