Wineglass Bay, our namesake and the primary reason thousands of people come to visit Freycinet every year, is every bit as beautiful as you might think. The sand is white. Glaringly, blindingly white. (Bring your sunglasses!) The colour of water is the stuff dreams are made of. Shimmering azure, enticing you to take a swim in spite of it’s less than tropical temperature. Clean and exquisitely clear – you can see straight through to the flawless sand below.
But wait… what are those dark circles over the side?
Wineglass Bay was not always this pristine. For about 20 years in the early 1800’s, the southern corner of Wineglass Bay housed a thriving whaling station. Whalers predominantly hunted the Southern Right, Humpback and Sperm Whales – as well as the Australian Fur Seal. Among other things, whalebone, was used to manufacture corsets, umbrella’s, whips, kitchen utensils, knitting needles and hoops for skirts. The whale blubber was in high demand for use in lamps, candles, machinery lubrication and as a base for perfumes, soaps and cooking fats.
Whaling wound up in Freycinet by 1840, whales had been over exploited and it was no longer financially viable to keep the whaling station running.
It was incredibly laborious and messy work and this is where the name comes from. A gruesome tale, the water in the bay is said to have been crimson with the blood of the slaughtered whales, such that it appeared as a glass of full bodied red wine. While the whaling lasted less than 2 decades, the name has endured; perhaps as a poignant reminder of what was almost lost forever, and what we must now endeavour to preserve.
Oh… and those dark circles over the side? Whales bones, now covered in weed. It’s still not uncommon to find them washed up on the beach after a storm.