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Souvenir whale oil from Cheynes Beach whaling station

Date: 1976
Overall: 110 x 35 x 35 mm
Medium: Whale Oil. Glass bottle
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Whale oil
Object No: 00032032
Place Manufactured:Western Australia

User Terms

    This small 50ml botte of whale oil was taken from the Cheynes Beach whaling station in Albany, Western Australia just prior to its closure in 1976. The label orginally attached read, 'The last whale oil. This oil taken at Albany W.A. Just prior to the closure of Cheynes Beach whaling station in 1976 represents some of the last available in the English / speaking world'.
    SignificanceThe whale oil comes from Australia's last whaling station at Cheynes Beach, Albany which closed its operation in 1978 shortly before the Australian government banned the killing of whales in Australian waters.The oil provides a
    symbol of both whaling as Australia's first major industry, and the discontinuation of whaling in Australia and many other parts of the world largely due to environmental factors and the availability of product substitutes.
    HistoryDespite Australia’s strong anti-whaling stance, the last whaling station to operate in Australia was only closed in 1978.
    It was named the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station and was based in Frenchman Bay, Albany, Western Australia. It had operated from 1952 and at the time of its closure, ran three whaling ships, a spotter plane and employed 102 people. It was a high cost business to run and although there had been huge technological advances made in the industry, it was still a labour intensive and gruesome profession. Despite this however it was noted that even in 1978, "Every boy at school wanted to be a whaler because they were big tough guys and they earned big money and it was a wonderful adventure. In town, they were regarded very well; they were paid well and contributed to the economy". (The ABC TV program "Can we Help?” Friday, April 24, 2009).
    There was still, in the early years of the company, a market for whale oil. "It was a very high-grade lubricant that was good for operating at all temperatures - in extreme heat and extreme cold. By the 1970s it was being used in jet engines and spacecraft" (SMH, January 21, 2012). In the later years however, economic pressures of running the company and its equipment became too great and the plant closed. The last whale, a female sperm whale, was caught was a 20th November 1978.

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