It’s been a year since I started this blog.
I’m incredibly appreciative of the people who read it. This blog has been an opportunity for me to write whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. A little creative side dish that helps me appreciate work, friends, family, life and living in Australia even more than I already do.
A lot happened in my little world in 2013. Dear friends got engaged. My first nephew was born. I finally packed myself up and moved to my city of dreams.
The first day of my new year was spent travelling to Eden, a little seaside village on the coast, to spend time with family and old family friends. When you spend time here, Eden feels a little bit magical, and has a totally unusual back story.
In the 1800’s and early 1900’s it was primarily a whaling town (now it’s a chip mill town. Hmm, perhaps when I said Eden was magical, I meant a town of politically and ethically reprehensible industries?). There was one whaler who became famous in this place and his name is Old Tom.
Old Tom is a killer whale.
The main whaling family, the Davidsons, lived at Twofold Bay and Old Tom noticed that they were the group responsible for taking their boat out to the treacherous seas and killing humpback and other whales, which were processed on site to become whale oil, and sold for lamps, candles and as an ingredient in industrial lubricant. Shocking, right? Thankfully it was ultimately stopped for good. Before that happened though, in an odd twist which proves just how intelligent these stunning creatures are, Old Tom the killer whale decided he could benefit from this whaling enterprise.
The family noticed Old Tom would swim into Twofold Bay, right outside the family’s house, and splash his tail and call for George Davidson and his men to come out in their boat. He and his pod had chased a larger whale into the bay and trapped it from exiting, ready for the whalers to sail out and claim. In return, the whalers left Old Tom and his pod the whale carcass secured overnight for them to eat the lips and the tongue of the unlucky whale that was captured. Old Tom could finally make sure his killer whale family had a steady supply of food. He also enjoyed biting down on the boat’s ropes and tugging the boat in and out of the bay if it suited him. It was also known that when men fell overboard during the dangerous whaling exercise, Old Tom’s orca pod would surround them, ensuring they could be returned to the boat instead of being swept out to sea. This joint collaboration between man and killer whale went on for years.
One day, Old Tom was found beached on the bay. In a cruel irony, it appeared he had died of starvation. The common theory is that George Davidson’s fellow whaler, John Logan, grew tired of leaving the whales for Old Tom and his pod first, despite this being the trusted way of sharing the whale that benefited both killer whale and the whalers. One day in the boat, a struggle broke out between Logan and Old Tom to secure and bring in a whale. Old Tom was injured, losing some teeth. This injury later led to an abscess in his mouth and his death knell was sounded.
This devastated the Davidson family and upset the town who had come to not only rely on Old Tom’s efforts commercially but to think of him as a member of their community.
These days, Old Tom’s skeleton hangs in the Killer Whale museum in Eden for people to visit and learn about this incredibly unique team of man and whale. John Logan, in remorse for his role in harming Old Tom, provided the premises for the museum.
There are so many stories in this world to be told. Strange, amazing, bizarre, complex, beautiful stories, large or small, funny, silly, important or just little musings. Thanks for reading mine.
Happy New Year!