Albany Travel Guide
There is a sleepy other-worldliness about the port city of Albany in Western Australia, which partly relates to its geography and partly to its history. It nestles snugly between three protective mountains: Clarence, Melville and Adelaide some 400 kilometres from Perth and was once known as Frederickstown, the gateway to the Eastern Goldfields. Founded in 1827 as a one of New South Wales’ military outposts, it was also the last Australian port which troop ships called at before leaving for the Great War.
The lookouts from the three hills offer spectacular ocean views and reveal an area of great natural beauty, which makes Albany a popular tourist destination for people of all ages and interests. However many visitors have a particular interest in Albany’s military heritage and will want to explore the Princess Royal Fortress overlooking King George III Sound; the light horse museum and of course the naval museum – Albany was the largest secret submarine base in the Pacific during World War II.
Any Albany travel guide will point out the beauty of its coastline, dotted with caves for underworld exploration, limpid lagoons and some of the world’s most pristine and picturesque beaches, making it a paradise for yachting, fishing, diving, swimming and other seaside activities. Between June and October whale watching is a favourite pastime and the whales often pause to frolic in the clear waters and come close to the shore for calving.
Until the 1950s, Albany had a thriving whaling industry and the old whaling station is now a popular attraction and guided tours help to re-enact one of Australia’s first industries. Nowadays Albany is better known for its far more palatable wine industry and the local produce is sold in the wide array of bars, cafes and restaurants in the town. And as Albany houses Western Australia’s oldest hotel and pub, built in 1835, it would seem churlish not to drop in for a reviving glass of something chilled and delicious.
The picturesque harbour, the old gaol built by convicts in the 1850s and now a museum of gaol life, invigorating country walks in search of exotic wild flowers or a tour of the aromatic sandalwood factory are just some of the interesting attractions for Albany tourism. For the botanically-minded, the Stirling Range National Park with its dramatic, craggy peaks stretching into the clouds like mighty dragons’ teeth will make a visit to historic Albany a truly unique and unforgettable experience.