A point in time...

Patrick Marmion was born in Downpatrick, Ireland and arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1841 aged 26 years to work as a clerk in Fremantle. Records suggest that he was a shareholder in two mining companies by 1846 and the licensee of the Commercial Hotel in 1894 and the Emerald Hotel (where the Orient Hotel stands now), Fremantle in 1852 and was now a merchant. 

The lucrative business of whaling was becoming popular in the early 19th century and was seen as a profitable way to revive the collapsing economy of the colony. In 1848, Patrick Marmion obtained a licence to operate one of two whaling companies at Fremantle that had commenced operations nine years before. 

In 1849 he petitioned Governor Fitzgerald for permission to establish a whaling station near where the Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club now stands. 

The petition was granted and a shore whaling station was built on ten acres of leased crown land that year. Shore whaling involved rowing small shore-based chaser boats to intercept migrating whales and tow them back to shore for processing. The station was permanently closed in 1852. It is possible the end to Patrick’s whaling business was possibly due to gold rush fever here in Australia and across the world. Patrick died in 1856.   

The chimney of the processing works was all that remained of the whaling station. It was such a prominent landmark that it was used as a navigation aid. “Marmion’s Chimney” also appeared on maps as late as the 1930s. It was demolished in 1953.

Two monuments stand in honour of Patrick Marmion and the whaling station. A plaque mounted on a limestone rock stands in Geneff Park Sorrento was erected in 1970. The other is located near the entrance to the Sorrento Beach car park. Erected in 1998 the 2.5 metre sculpture at the entry to Sorrento Beach, south of the Sorrento Surf Life Saving Club, West Coast Drive, Sorrento, (W.A.) was commissioned by the City of Joondalup. 

Sculptor Albie Herbert and artist Eric Schneider worked with 37 Year 7 students from Marmion Primary School to create the work. The four- sided totem entitled Odyssey is based in a boat, a model of Patrick Marmion’s schooner, the Pelsart, and tells the changing story of the whales’ relationship with people. The bottom layers illustrate whale hunting and the top layers show people whale watching for pleasure.