The Road to Darwin – Part 2 – Whyalla Cuddlefest

Giant Cuddle-fish

Just went for a swim with 250,000 cuttlefish. Awesome!. (Yes, they do breed quickly, don’t they?)

For reasons best known to themselves, they have chosen to spend their most intimate moments before they die, between an LPG refinery and a steel smelter.

But I suspect the cuttlefish were there first.

They have chosen this unlikely spot because it is shallow and protected and has lots of rocks and seaweed to lay eggs under. They don’t seem to mind us swimming around about 2 metres above them while they do their thing. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish can grow up to a metre long. They live a solitary life roaming the seas for a year and growing big and beautiful till they all suddenly get that urge to return to the place of their birth to perform one of the world’s greatest orgies. (As you can well imagine. Having 5 long slippery tentacles this involves a lot of groping.)

Then they all die together. Isn’t that romantic?

Lamentably, the rapacious fishing squads were the first to discover this unique event, but they did not see a great natural wonder, all they saw was floating wads of cash! In the late ’90s, at the height of the pillage, over 30 boats extracted 270 tons of cuttlefish in the space of a few weeks, sending cuttlefish numbers plummeting towards extinction. Luckily, some bright spark realized they were much more valuable as a spectacle than as a piece of mock crabstick at the fish and chip shop.

So now the cuddlefish flourish unconcerned by the toxic activities all around them.

One can only assume that smelting metal pollutes the air far more than the sea.

Posing                                                Guarding

Auditioning                             Hiding

Scaring                                                                              Ghost




The locals claim the air is perfectly fit to breath, even though the entire town and it’s residents are covered with a dusting of soft grey soot. Roaming the streets I couldn’t help but notice the hospital is unusually large for such a small town, and the cemetery is vast!

I searched in vein for the mythological statue of Allah, but alas I was too late. It had been reduced to a pile of rubble, like so much of our cultural heritage: