On the Salamanca docks in Hobart we wondered at the the Antarctic expeditioner named after a nineteenth century French sojourner. I love reading the journals of d'Urville and his officers in King George Sound. In Hobart we could nearly touch this maritime continuation of our past.
Not so in Albany. Tonight the SS Steve Irwin steamed in. Below is the only look you will get at this ship while they are in town, unless you have a boat. And then, no closer than eighty metres, please.
The security guard is a friendly from a firm contracted by the the Albany Port Authority to make sure no rabble get close to the port. "I work for/ for the APA," he told me, careful to distance himself with an extra 'for'. He might have been a cheerful employee but he is also an old Albany boy who used to fish off the wharf just like me, and he remembers all the graffiti that the seamen left, huge painted signs of national flags on the concrete back in the day when we had access.
He also remembers the whaling days because his uncles and his father worked the chasers.
He was good at his job and pleasantly refused to open the gates. He pointed the way for our best photo opportunity out by the tug boat harbour. I knew a way I could get to the port via my old fish factory haunt but tonight it involved a barbed wire fence that resembled something I used to build to keep foxes out of my chook pen. Dammit, no carpet, no key to the gates ...
"The eclipse is s'posed to be tonight but I didn't see it," he said. Well he should know. He'd been standing outside all night, protecting the port from terrorists, drug dealers and litigants, you know, the usual sorts that hang around Albany.
Yes. Anyway. Welcome to Albany, Sea Shepherd.