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Discover dramatic coastal scenery and fascinating history in Albany, Western Australia’s first and southernmost city.
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.
Padre White Lookout,
Albany Heritage Park,
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.
Between late May and October, majestic southern right and humpback whales glide past Albany on their annual migration. Spot them from the beaches and headlands or get up close on a cruise. From July, you can see whales mating and calving in the vast, green seas of King George Sound, alongside sea lions, dolphins and sea birds. Today whale-watching has replaced the city's once thriving but destructive whaling industry. Learn more at Albany's interactive whale museum, which was once a whaling station.
Travel further back into Albany's fascinating history on the replica of the Brig Amity, the ship which brought the first settlers and convicts to Western Australia. This British army expedition stepped ashore in Albany on Christmas Day 1826, and went on to forge peaceful relations with the Aboriginal Mineng people who lived around King George Sound. Much of this goodwill was thanks to Major Lockyer, who rescued local Aboriginal women from slavery and apprehended their kidnappers. Learn more about Lockyer and other local historic figures on the Amity Trail, which winds past old convict jails and taverns, whaling ships and settlers' cottages.
Shelley Beach, West Cape Howe
National Park, Albany, WA
Once you've had your fill of local heritage, explore the national parks outside of town. In West Cape Howe National Park you can stroll through forest, heathland and white beaches on the most southern point of Western Australia. Hang-gliders and para-gliders launch from platforms built into the hill above Shelley Beach. Discover endangered plants, animals and birds in West Gull National Park, just east of Albany, or head north to the clean white beaches of Two People Bay National Park. The noisy scrub bird, declared extinct in 1962, was rediscovered here recently
You can hike to Albany on the Bibbulmun Track, which stretches almost 1,000km from Kalamunda, past towering forests, tranquil farmland and wild beaches. Alternatively, soak up the scenery on the South-West, Beaches and Goldfields Drive, an eight day loop from Perth through the state's south-west.
However you get here, you'll love this rare city, with its dramatic history and many natural escapes.
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Embrace Perth's relaxed magic with a sunset drink on Cottlesloe Beach, a cruise down the Swan River or live music in inner-city enclaves. Walk Kings Park and visit historic Fremantle. Swim, bike and catch rock lobster along Rottnest Island's secluded bays. Combine Perth with a journey to the Pinnacles, Monkey Mia or the beaches and goldfields of the state's south-west.
Rare Western Australian nature is on show in Stirling Range National Park, home to the craggy, 65km-long Stirling Range, and an astonishing array of seasonal wildflowers, many of which grow only here. This bushwalking and biodiversity hotspot lies just over an hour’s drive north-east of Albany, and is a destination on the South West, Beaches and Goldfields Drive from Perth.
Discover towering forests, tranquil farmland and wild beaches on this award-winning walk through Western Australia's south-west. The gold snake signs that mark the trail stretch almost 1,000 kilometres, from the Perth hills to Albany on the south coast. Scale Mt Cooke in the Darling Range and lose yourself in the lush forest fringing the Darling River. Visit vineyards in the Blackwood Valley, walk next to waterfalls and wildflowers in Beedelup National Park and clamber over granite boulders on the Pingerup Plains. Walk through sky-scraping karri trees in the Valley of the Giants, swim from Peaceful Bay and watch migrating whales from Albany. Do the walk in sections, or mix and match day and multi-day treks according to your time, the scenery you want to see, and your energy. Keep in mind it would take around two months to follow the snake markers all the way! The track is well-equipped, with hikers' huts or camping sites situated a day's walk apart.
It's easy to be awe-struck by the towering forests around Walpole, a tranquil township around four and a half hours drive south from Perth. Giant red tingle trees, which grow as high as 40 metres, are unique to the Walpole wilderness areas. Get a bird's eye view of these sky-scraping trees the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, then see their massive, gnarled trunks on the Ancient Empires boardwalk below. Afterwards, you can cruise Walpole's peaceful rivers and inlets and discover the great walking tracks and pristine white beaches of Walpole-Nornalup National Park.
Discover the diverse and theatrical landscapes of Australia’s south-west corner. Drive from Perth through the buzzing historic port of Fremantle and swim with dolphins in Mandurah and Bunbury. Explore wineries, surf beaches, ancient limestone caves and towering karri forests in the Margaret River region. Walk through a canopy of sky-scraping trees in the Valley of the Giants, near Walpole. Swim and surf from Esperance’s clean, empty white beaches and cruise to the pristine islands of the Recherche Archipelago. Soak up gold fever in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and trace the path of pioneers on historic gold trails. Watch golden sand morph to green valley as you drive back into Perth.