Mural of Killer Whales that inspired the Killer Whale Trail, Eden.
Eden is the last town on the New South Wales coast before you head south into Victoria. Or its the first town you drive into if driving north from Victoria into New South Wales. As well as being a coastal town with envious beaches and plenty of hikes in the local national park, Eden is known for its history with whales. In fact so many whales visit Eden it is known as the ‘humpback highway’. They visit every year during their migration up and down the New South Wales coast and often call into Two Folds Bay where Eden is located. So come with me as I discover the love affair between whales and Eden as I follow the Killer Whale Trail.
Why is there a Killer Whale Trail in Eden?
To understand why there is a Killer Whale Trail you need to step back in time. For hundreds of years whales, particularly humpback whales have been migrating up and down Australia’s east coast. Between the years of 1828 to 1930 a hunting partnership between killer whales and humans existed. During this time, whales were hunted for their blubber which produced a number of useful things for humans such as oil for lamps and candles. Plus their meat was very tasty. But at the time, the way humans caught whales was in a small boat with a harpoon – very hard to catch whales this way. Then they got help. It seems the killer whales in the area worked out if they tell the whale hunters there were whales in the vicinity, the hunters would give them leftover bits to eat. And this partnership lasted for many years with the sailors giving the whales names, including that of Old Tom.
What is the Killer Whale Trail?
The Killer Whale Trail lets you discover the stories and sights of the Killer Whales of Eden. There are 5 major spots on the trail aiding the the story of how the killer whales worked with the sailors to catch whales. And how whaling was such a big industry in Eden thanks to their partnership. In all, it took me about 4-5 hours to visit all the places on the whale trail, plus I had lunch.
The Killer Whale Trail Stops
1. Eden Killer Whale Museum
Eden Killer Whale Museum
The Eden Killer Whale Museum is the first stop on the Killer Whale Trail. I was very pleasantly surprised at how interesting the museum is. As soon as you walk through the museum’s doors you are confronted by the Old Tom’s skeleton. I found him quite mesmerising. And as the receptionist advised, I headed into the theaterette first (well second after spending time with Old Tom) to watch the short show about the history of Eden and the whales. This fully explained the link between human and whale plus there was plenty of information about the whaling industry of Eden. This is not to be missed as when you go to the other places on the Killer Whale Trail, they make sense.
After the show it’s time to walk around the museum. There are many artefacts from the whaling days here. Original small rowboats the sailors chased the whales in. Plus harpoons and many other maritime objects. And the view over Eden and Twofolds Bay from the outdoor deck is quite spectacular.
Old Tom’s Skeleton at the Eden Killer Whale Museum
You can find the museum Eden Killer Whale Museum at 184 Inlay Street, Eden. The Entrance Fee: $15.
2. Rotary Lookout Eden
From the Rotary Lookout you can see across Twofolds Bay
Next stop on the Killer Whale Trail is the Rotary Lookout Eden. You can find it by heading along Imlay Street, go up the hill and past Snug Cove Wharf and there is parking at the top. I had actually been at the lookout the day before. I returned because after seeing the show at the Eden Killer Whale Museum I now knew what I was actually looking at. From the lookout you look out over Twofolds Bay which is the third-deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere. And is probably why the whales loved it. Now while standing at the lookout I recognised Seahorse Inn on Beermuna Beach, Davidson Whaling Station and Boyd’s Tower in the distance. You can stay here for ages looking out over the water possibly imagining tiny whaling boats rowing out to the whales with their harpoons. I was hoping to see a whale breach, but alas, not this day.
3. Beermuna Beach & Seahorse Inn
The third stop on the Killer Whale Trail is a bit of a drive back down the Princess Highway. In fact the turnoff to Beermuna Beach is 8km south of Eden. This is a special place and is a big part of the Killer Whale Trail as it is here where man first developed a relationship with the wild orcas. The area was transformed by Benjamin Boyd, a European settler and entrepreneur who arrived in the area in the 1840s and made this his base. He had Seahorse Inn built and it exists today as a luxury resort where you can stay or enjoy a meal overlooking Twofold Bay. This is where I had lunch – I brought my own picnic.
4. Davidson Whaling Station
Stop 4 on the Killer Whale Trail is the Davidson Whaling Station. It is quite a drive, another 10km south. Turn left on Edrom Road and follow the signs. It was well worth the drive to the other side of Twofolds Bay. Here you can explore the grounds of Loch Garra. This is home now to the Davidson family but previously Australia’s longest running shore-based whaling station. There are many artefacts of the tryworks to discover. This is where the whales were processed to turn their blubber into oil.
5. Ben Boyd Tower
Ben Boyd Tower in the distance from the Rotary Lookout
Leaving the Davidson Whaling Station, turn left back onto Edrom Road for the 5km drive to the Bend Boyd Tower. The Ben Boyd Tower was built in the 1840s as a lighthouse but was never approved to be one. Instead, it became a lookout for the whalers to spot whales. Often, the person manning the lookout would see the orcas doing flip flops which was the sign to man that whales were in the vicinity for catching. Today, it is still a great place to whale watch.
And so that ends the Killer Whale Trail of Eden on the Sapphire Coast. Time to head back to Eden.
When to do the Killer Whale Trail?
Anytime is a great time to do the Killer Whale Trail. However, if you would like to see whales during their migration along the Australian coastline the best time to visit is between May and early November. This is when the ‘Humpback Highway’ literally sees the arrival of thousands of migrating humpback whales. Some of the best places to see the whales are from vantage points in Twofold Bay and coast spots in Ben Boyd National Park.
What Else is there to do in Eden?
Besides visiting the Killer Whale Museum and doing the Killer Whale Trail there are other things to see and do in Eden. There are many hikes you could do in the Ben Boyd National Park. Or possibly spend your days lazing on the local beaches. Eden town is made up of a long, wide street with shops, coffee shops and a pub. If you are looking for a good feed then the pub is a great choice. Or if you are after a light meal or breakfast there are a number of coffee shops including The Fig which is located next to a 100 year old fig tree and the primary school.
Where to Stay in Eden
Eden has an abundance of places to stay whether it be for a night or more. There are plenty of motels mostly budget to mid-range plus there are a couple of caravan parks. I stayed at the Halfway Inn and can recommend this. It was nothing to write home about but was comfortable and clean.
Are You Ready to Follow the Killer Whale Trail in Eden?