As the oldest former whaling station in mainland Australia, Eden boasts a long, proud maritime heritage. Although whaling expeditions have long since ceased, Eden is still home to the largest fishing fleet in New South Wales. The Killer Whale Museum has an exhibit about Old Tom and the incredible story of how local whalers were aided by obliging Orcas in their quest for leviathans of the sea.
The winter visitors the New South Wales waters between Eden and Point Danger include both Humpback Whales and Southern Right Wales, on their migration from the Antarctic to their tropical breeding grounds. The whales return to the Antarctic at the end of spring, some completing the longest migration of any animal species. The early mornings of clear, still days between August and November are the best times for whale watching along the coast at Eden.
Whaling by Europeans commenced in Twofold Bay at Eden in 1791 and the first shore-based whaling station in Australia was established by Captain Thomas Raine at Snug Cove in 1828. The Imlay Brothers erected Eden’s first building circa 1833. Slab huts near Aslings Beach formed a station and “try works”. Several other whalers followed, including the colorful Benjamin Boyd. Early record show that local Aboriginal people were the first whalers of Twofold Bay. They took advantage of the hunting technique of killer whales (Orcas) which involved the herding of marine mammals into shallows where waiting men could spear them from canoes. The Aborigines revered the killer whales and would call to them, smack the water to attract their attention and throw meat and fish to them. Records show that Aborigines were widely employed from the outset in the European whaling industry and that they made excellent and enthusiastic whalemen. The relationship with killer whales continued because, at Twofold Bay – and nowhere else in the world – killer whales not only rounded up large whales, but they herded them into the Bay for the whalemen to kill.