Having a whale of a time.

After yesterday’s heat and the blustery north wind it was kind of nice to wake to a cooler day today.  Long hot days are perfect for beach holidays, but it’s nice to have a cooler day here and there.  It gives one a chance to do some non-beachy things, it gives the skin some time to adapt to its new hue, and it justifies those long sleeves that you packed as you left home.  All of which is a kind of bullshit way of making it sound like not such a bad thing that it’s too cold for swimming, but let’s be honest, we’d all rather that it was a bit warmer.  It’s summer after all.

Not that I’m complaining.

Jack and I went out for a short ride this morning.  Just up the road from where we are staying is Mount Alma road, and the sign at the corner of this road suggests that there is a bit of a hill to be found nearby.

A hill beckons

Since neither of us was riding a truck, a bus, a caravan or a trailer, we figured that we’d be OK.

But whoever is in charge of signs in this part of the world obviously wanted to make sure that we got the message.  A little way further up the road there is another sign:

Apparently it's steep up ahead.

Undaunted we pressed on.  Actually this is what we came for!  A bit of steepness.  But how could we be sure that it would be really steep?  Well, there’s those sign placing people, for starters.  They are adamant that people hear their message.  A little further up the road…

It's steep!

And, just a bit further on again….

Oh, steep! Now you tell me!

So anyway, the photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it was quite steep, OK?

Here’s what it looks like from the top, looking back down:

Sensibly pondering the descent.

After a couple of laps up and down all that steepness it was definitely time for something not so steep.  Like a flat white.

Morning coffee was therefore had, or iced chocolates, depending upon who we’re talking about.  Then came the stuff that you do when it’s not quite warm enough to swim.  A bit of a stroll around town, and a visit to the local must-see tourist attraction, to be found in nearly every seaside town of any touristic substance, and which would possibly struggle to survive the summer season were it not for the occasional too-cool-to-swim day. In Victor Harbour it is the Whaling Centre, that celebrates or at least records for posterity all things related to the harpooning and consuming of whales which, whilst most definitely not PC to the modern observer was once the height of ocean-going derring-do and topped the list of must-have consumer items.

Today’s consumer, far from the oil wells of the Middle East or Bass Strait, greedily makes his or her way through a steady diet of oil related stuff.  Plastics, DVDs, lip balm, guitar strings, and all manner of other things are cheerfully derived from wonderful oil gleefully extracted from the ground each day.  It could go on like that for ever!  But the consumer of Olde didn’t have an endless supply of Crude to turn to, instead preferring whales as the source of all their goodness.  Whale oil, whale bones, whale blubber, whale meat, whale teeth, whale intestinal goop and everything else whale was used to basically run the whole economy.  Whales and slavery.  Or convict labour, depending on where you sat.  Who could have imagined a whale-free future?  And it was renewable!  Well…

Of course there are not whole whales in a small coastal town’s Whale centre, but there are bits of whales.  Whale skulls, whale vertebrae, whale flipper bones and all that kind of stuff.  Just the sort of stuff you’d expect a responsible blogger to photograph for you, but alas dear reader, although I do indeed have photos of some of these things I didn’t deem any of them to be of suitable quality for you.  Anyway, you know what whales look like, right?

Curiously though, the Whale centre also had a whole section devoted to sharks and to some of the other creatures of the sea, so here is a photo of a Port Jackson shark

Port Jackson shark.

and a Leafy Sea Dragon

Leafy sea dragon. A bit dead. On a wall.

The parting message from the Whale place should probably not be about sharks, nor about desiccated sea horse, but about the whales themselves, and why it’s perhaps maybe not so good to kill them, sustainable oil production notwithstanding.

Can anyone forward this to Japan?

So, our heads full of cetaceans and their ilk we exited the Whale centre and made for the next activity.  Whilst Liz paid a visit to the local Rotary Art Show the boys and I walked into the water, snorkels at hand, in search of some real live Leafy Sea Dragons.  Needless to say we didn’t find any, which is hardly surprising given their leafy camouflage.  (The leafy camouflage obviously doesn’t survive the dessiccation process as well as the rest of the Leafy Sea Dragon, so the photo above probably has left you with an erroneous impression.  In real life these things look like a bit of sea grass.  Only leafier.)

We did see one of these, though:


Only the one we saw was quite a bit smaller, and wasn’t a Great White, but an actual real live Port Jackson Shark.  The great white above was part of a video presentation in the Whale centre.  While snorkelling we also saw some stingrays, a very orange starfish, and each of the nine different species of sea grass (NOT algae) to be found in these waters.  (More than is to be found in the Great Barrier Reef.)

Back on dry land we learned that Rotary Art Shows here in Victor Harbour are very much like Rotary Art Shows back in Melbourne,  with even some of the same artists on show.  On the streets the big thing is the Tour Down Under.  Stage 3 is tomorrow and it finishes here

Tomorrow's finish line

In honour of the TDU the whole of Victor Harbour is festooned with bikes.  They are everywhere.

Red bikes everywhere.

Sorry about the flat white pun.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Anita Mac
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 00:32:44

    Awesome – glad someone finally warned you about the hill!!! 🙂 17% – that is starting to get serious! Looks like some great riding down there – and a convenient coffee shop after all the climbing – even better. Hope you have time in the schedule to watch a little of the TdU – so would love to be over there with you! It is the dead of winter here – will have to be happy with riding in the kitchen! Will have to wait til spring for the open roads! Happy trails.


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