Historic whaling station of The Last Whale to mark 40th anniversary of closure

The historic Albany whaling station that played an integral part in Chris Pash’s book The Last Whale will mark the fortieth anniversary of its closure this month.

The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company in Albany closed its doors on the evening of 21 November 1978 after more than 150 years whaling in the Albany waters.

The Last Whale author Chris Pash was then a young reporter with the local newspaper, the Albany Advertiser, reporting the final days of whaling and covering the clashes with activists who tried to shut down the whaling station.

‘The arrival in 1977 of activists in Albany, who took to inflatable boats to make themselves human shields for the whales, divided the town,’ he said.

‘And the closure the following year, the result of a shrinking market for sperm whale oil as activists globally made whaling an issue, was a huge shock for Albany and those who worked in whaling.

‘The whalers themselves not only lost good paying jobs but their status in the town. But now, four decades later, most of the whalers look back and agree that we shouldn’t have been taking whales.

‘Today the whaling station is a fascinating piece of history, attracting tens of thousands of people each year.’

An exhibition marking the closure of the station is currently showing at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station until the anniversary date and features a number of archive items and newspaper articles from the time of the whaling station’s operation.

A number of other events are planned around the anniversary, including Drift, a live musical immersive journey through the station, on Tuesday 20 November.

The Last Whale explores the very human story behind the Albany whaling industry and the events that brought about its closure.

More information on anniversary events can be found on the centre’s website.

The Last Whale by Chris Pash is available online at www.fremantlepress.com.au and in all good bookstores.

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