The cool climate haven of Albany perches on a placid harbour edged by national park. A rugged coastline of sculpted rocks, peaceful sandy beaches and nature trails through fragrant bush awaits those with a sense of adventure, while fans of local wineries, small wine bars and historic buildings will enjoy slow walks around town.
It takes just over four-and-a-half hours to drive to Albany from Perth, or you can fly there direct in one hour. Coach lines also service Albany. If you want to walk all the way to Albany from Perth, you can – a 1000 kilometre bush walking trail called the Bibbulmun Track links the capital with the coast. A similar trail, called the Munda Biddi, offers the same experience for mountain bikers. It’s the longest off-road cycling track of its kind in the world.
Standing on the edge of a 40-metre high cliff with frothing ocean below and wind rushing upwards makes for a great introduction to Albany’s wildly captivating coastline. The Gap, in Torndirrup National Park, bears a see-through platform that juts 10 metres out from the rockface. A few steps away, the sculpted rock formation of Natural Bridge allows for calmer contemplation of nature’s powers. Take a moment to watch the horizon: between May and October, there’s a good chance you’ll see humpback whales breaching in the distance.
See them up close on a whale watching cruise, or keep an eye out as you drive around Vancouver Peninsula, to where secret beaches meet bush walking trails.
Back in town, a 35-metre ruby seadragon cloaks white grain silos – one of many giant silo art murals in Western Australia. It gazes over historic buildings that date back to the early settlers; Albany is where the first European settlers set foot in Western Australia. It also points to the National ANZAC Centre, atop Mount Clarence. The museum offers a deeply moving journey through the experiences of Australians and New Zealanders in World War One. Windows offer views of the natural harbour from which 30,000 troops departed, many of them never to see Australian shores again.