Life-size mural depicting whaling history comes to life with community support

Brett Ralph working on the mural of the 97-foot blue whale.
Brett Ralph working on the mural of the 97-foot blue whale.

A life-size depiction of a 97-foot long blue whale is currently being painted on the corner of Imlay and Chandos Streets in Eden.

With a background in both commercial art and fishing, mural artist Brett Ralph has been wanting to paint this particular whale since 2007 and has been able to proceed with support and donations from the community.

The 30m whale was cornered in waters south of Boyd's Tower by Archer Davidson with the assistance of Orcas, including Old Tom, Humpy and Hooky in 1910 and is said to be the largest whale ever harpooned by hand.

Eden Killer Whale Museum houses the jaws of the enormous mammal, who weighed over 100 tonnes, roughly equivalent to 2000 men.

"They're usually too fast, but this one came in to the bay a bit sick and was floundering and they took advantage of it," Mr Ralph said.

Some historical accounts state the whale was female and her 45-foot long calf was killed alongside her.

Archer Davidson (1876-1965) and the harpooned blue whale, 1910. Image used with permission of Martin Davidson.

Archer Davidson (1876-1965) and the harpooned blue whale, 1910. Image used with permission of Martin Davidson.

Blue whales are the largest creatures ever known to have inhabited Earth and were once abundant in nearly all oceans, until they were hunted almost to the point of extinction, which was banned by the International Whaling Commission in 1967.

The Davidson family had the last shore-based whaling station on the east coast of Australia, which included many indigenous crew members, but as a result of over-exploitation and after the death of Old Tom in 1930, whaling in Twofold Bay ceased.

"This represents part of the history and culture of the area - depicting the amazing and unique relationship of Eden's Orcas and whalers is honoring the uniqueness and awesomeness of that, not whaling itself," Mr Ralph said.

Newspaper clipping from The Age showing the world record set by Archer Davidson for hand-harpooning the 97-foot blue whale.

Newspaper clipping from The Age showing the world record set by Archer Davidson for hand-harpooning the 97-foot blue whale.

This mural is one of a number he has completed around the town, with others at Heritage House and Port Authority as well as the high school and bottle shop.

"All nature is symmetrical. When doing art it's important to notice every little detail and when showing history I want to be as accurate as possible," Mr Ralph said.

This community project has been steered by Imagine Eden, which is a committee auspiced off Eden Access Centre.

The committee formed an events group to help the community facilitate more events and art around town, local builders have given their time and community members have donated paint.

Anderson's Cranes took the initiative to cover the Chandos Street wall in sheet metal at their own expense and provided a scissor lift to aid Mr Ralph's efforts.

"It's a combined effort and we hope to pay tribute to the big blue and Eden's unique history. I wouldn't be able to do this without 'a 'little help from my friends' and am very grateful for the opportunity," Mr Ralph said.

Work in progress, more photos to come.

Work in progress, more photos to come.