October 11, 2002 - Albany 141k/88m*

First, here’s a picture of the Tree Top Walk Motel, where I stayed last night. Chris, who with her husband just bought it a month ago, traded a glass of a local Cab/Merlot for this placement. They keep an immaculate accommodation, provide great service and cook a nice dinner. If you’re ever in Walpole, you won’t go wrong staying here.

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Virtually all the supplies you saw in the last photograph yesterday are still with me. There were only two towns listed on the leaving Walpole mileage sign.

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Who needs supplies for these distances? I had unrealistic hopes of going 187km beyond Albany to Jerramungup, but early hills and lack of wind quickly quashed them. So, I took it easy for the day. Saturday brunch was in Denmark, a little fishing/hiking tourist town. Leaving Demnark, for the first time, the mileage sign listed only one town. It’s a none too subtle warning of the vast (by bike) distances between towns starting tomorrow.

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(For some reason, my camera automatically flashed this sign.) It was an easy ride to Albany. For the first time in days, since coming into Busselton, a couple hills out of Denmark things turned flat. While I might be praying for some variation in terrain over the next 10 days or so, coming out of the forests and hills of the past few days, this was a welcome site.

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Most of the towns for the past few days lack police, banks, stoplights, etc. They’re just a few hundred people living around a block or so of commercial establishments. The Albany area has 30,000 people and a bustling dozen or so blocks of all kinds of establishments. Albany is both a tourist center, as well as an industrial port. Here’s the view looking south down York (main) street toward the harbour.

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I checked into the Frederickstown Motel (spelling is correct – it’s what Albany was called before it was called Albany), dumped my stuff and started riding around. Here’s the view of the harbor from the hill above town.

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I went to the tourist information office and asked about the sights. They were all 20km away. The nice folks suggested that the local taxi company had a $35/hour tour guide service. I took them up on it, and headed out to see the coast by Torndirrup National Park, where they have the “Natural Bridge” and “The Gap”. Here’s the coast and the bridge.

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Julie, the taxi cab driver, then took me to Whaleworld – formerly known as the Cheynes (pronounced “chains”) Beach Whaling Company, PLC. They had two airplanes, three whale chaser ships, and a factory where they slaughtered over 1,000 whales per year until 1978 when they shut the place down. Here’s the last boat they used, the Cheynes IV.

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It’s a great museum – a whale processing facility preserved with fetuses of sperm whales, the skeleton of the last whale they processed, and all the boilers, tools, vats… everything including the head cutting off saw. They have a movie theater showing the hunting, harpooning, towing, and cutting up of the whales, and a really spectacular (really) little animation focusing on the culture of the factory workers (literally, “a day in the life”). I spent an hour there and quintupled my knowledge of whales and whale hunting. You leave with great sympathy for all involved.

Tomorrow I will ride about 193km, no matter what. There are no options..

(Oct 12, 2002, 6:34PM, Albany)

From the town map:
Albany, WA was established as a British military outpost in 1826, and was the first European settlement in the state. It was named Albany in 1832.

The relationship between the Aboriginal Menang people and the Europeans was quite harmonious and early exploration of the region was assisted considerably by the noble native Mokare.

Albany’s perfect natural harbour is ideal. For many years it was the international mail depot for WA. Steamers from England used the town as a coal station, and for many years a whaling industry was based at Frenchman Bay. The station closed in 1978 as a result of international pressure to ban whaling.

The approximate population of the city of Albany is 30,000, with an average annual growth rate of 2%.

(the Wisconsin thing was most of the middle of the day. I have pictures of the same kinds of cows they have in WI, on the same kind of looking land, if you want them.)

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