Salmon Holes, Albany, WA
Sitting on the rugged southern coast of Western Australia, four-and-a-half hour's drive from Perth, Albany is a city where you can actually escape the rat race. It's fringed by green seas, tall forests and national parks, and offers lots of natural adventures, from fishing and diving to walking and whale-watching. It's also steeped in the fascinating stories of its Aboriginal owners and later convicts, sailors and whalers. Discover Albany at the southern end of the wildflower-carpeted Bibbulmun Track or get here on the South-West, Beaches and Goldfields Drive.
Perched on Princess Royal Harbour, on the edge of dramatic King George Sound, Albany has a cityscape like few others. Enjoy the ocean vistas from Torndirrup National Park, just past town, where the jagged granite coastline was once part of Antarctica. Walk to the top of Stony Hill you can see over Albany and its waterways and as far north as Stirling Range National Park. The park is also home to wind-weathered rock formations such as Natural Bridge and the Gap, which sits above a dizzying 24-metre ocean drop.
More spectacular views are on offer from the summits of Mount Clarence and Mount Melville, which tower on either side of the city. Afterwards, check out the eco-friendly wind farm, trawl the farmers markets for sustainable produce and see the huge granite outcrop of Dog Rock. Go snorkeling or swimming or wander the scenic boardwalk at sheltered Middleton Beach. A little further along is Emu Point, where you can feed pelicans, picnic or enjoy a leisurely restaurant lunch.
Offshore, Albany's coastline offers divine fishing, diving and whale-watching. Cast your line from the beach or join a fishing charter to catch species such as salmon, herring, King George whiting, pilchard, leatherjacket, tuna, snapper and shark. You can haul in lots of colourful fish around the purpose-sunk ship the HMAS Perth, also a popular spot for scuba diving.