400km south east of Perth lies Albany, which was actually settled before both Perth and Freemantle making it Western Australia’s oldest town. Originally established back in 1826, its deep harbour known as Princess Royal Harbour was at the time Western Australia’s only deep water port. This saw its rapid growth as it provided direct access to the Kalgoorlie region and was also the first port of call for many ships making the trip over from England. Albany is now large enough to be called a city and showcases it beauty with stunning beaches, a rugged coastline and host of scenic national parks. For many years, it was an agriculture and forestry region, and was a thriving whaling port, however now, fishing and tourism also play an important part in keeping it alive, making it the ideal location for Caravanners and Campers to stay and explore the region.
Princess Royal Harbour @ Albany
Depending on which approach you take when crossing the Nullarbor, Albany is definitely a destination worth stopping at. Below we cover off on some of the main attractions the area has to offer.
Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum
The Princess Royal Fortress was originally built in 1893 as a defense post and is now one of Australia’s best outdoor military museums. The fortress encompasses the entire summit of Mt Adelaide and includes barracks, a heritage centre, an underground bunker and artillery display. The views from the fortress are magnificent and visitors are well catered for with a kiosk, picnic and BBQ area.
Historic Building @ The Military Museum
For many years Whaling was a bit part of Albany’s industry, with a dedicated whaling station at discovery bay. The station ceased operation in 1978 and the site has since been transformed into Whale World. It is the ideal location to learn about the history of whaling and view many of the displays including an actual whaling boat. Guided tours are also available.
The Historic Whaling Station @ Albany
With Whaling at an end, the numbers of whales have slowing increased and Albany is the ideal location to see them from. Late May and early October is the peak time to see these majestic creatures with many species including the humpback and southern right wales migrating along this part of the coast each year. There are several dedicated tours available, or you can often be lucky enough to spot them from land with some of them getting to within 30 metres of the shore at times.
Humpback Whales playing in the waters
The beaches in this part of the country are truly breathtaking and remain some of our favourites. They are so varied depending on what you are after, be it swimming, fishing, surfing or just some spectacular walks.
Many are within close proximity to the city centre, but spread out along the coast line making for a great day out exploring beach after beach.
Just one of the many magnificent beaches around Albany
One of the first ships to arrive in Albany was a brig called the Amity in 1826. The ship and its crew were sent to the area and set the task of establishing a military base. To celebrate the history of this majestic ship an exact replica of the Amity is now docked within walking distance to the city where visitors are welcome to go on board and explore above and below deck to get a true appreciation of what life would have been like traveling the open seas in these brigs.
The Replica of the Amity
Kalgan River Cruise
The Kalgan River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and steeped in history. Meandering its way for 140 km from it upper reaches of the Stirling Range National Park, it drains into Oyster Harbour. The Kalgan Queen, Albany’s riverboat allows you to explore the calm waters of this river as it takes in its history, wildlife and dreamtime stories.
The Kalgan Queen
Torndirrup National Park
Located at the southern end of Princess Royal Harbour, the national park is in stark contrast to the calm beaches of the harbour. Featuring massive granite outcrops, sheer cliffs and steep sand slopes and dues. A Natural Bridge has been formed by years of erosion and formed a Gap with enormous waves and natural blowholes. The park is also home to Frenchman’s Bay which offers a beautiful sheltered bay with safe swimming.
The Natural Bridge @ Torndirrup National Park
Old Convict Gaol Museum
Originally established in 1852 for incarcerating convicts, the prison was later used to hold Aboriginal prisoners. Constructed of timber, many of the prisoners would pass the time carving the walls with traditional Aboriginal artwork which still remains today.
Inside the walls of the old Gaol
Patrick Taylor Cottage
If you are into history the Patrick Taylor Cottage is worth a visit. It is the oldest surviving dwelling in Western Australia having been built in 1832.
It is an eleven room wattle and daub cottage which now displays artifacts from all around Albany.
Patrick Taylor Cottage
Regular events are held throughout the year in Albany including
Field of Light: Avenue of Honour
Held in October, the installation is an extraordinary sight adorning Apex drive along Mount Clarence. There are dazzling displays of over 16,000 lights that pay homage to the Anzacs.
The fields of light
Nine Pound Gun Firing
The Princess Royal Fortress carries out regular gun firings of an original nine pound gun. Bring the family down and enjoy the spectacle of a real nine pound gun being fired. You may want to cover your ears though! The dates vary so you can check out their web page for updates on the Gun Firing Schedule.
The Nine Pound Guns being fired
Albany Classic “Around the Houses”
The Albany Classic Motor Event is run through the heart of Albany’s CBD, overlooking the ANZAC Peace Park and Princess Royal Harbour. This spectacle of historic motor sports presents a wide variety of cars from vintage wire wheels, post-vintage and classics as well as open wheel racers and big cube muscle cars.
Loads of cars line the streets for the Albany Classic
Where to Stay
Albany has numerous locations to stay both in the city and nearby areas. Some of them are listed below or the full list, download the Free App and find all campsites in the surrounding area.
Happy Days Caravan Park
Set in a picturesque rural setting on the banks of the King River. The on-site accommodation ranges from Budget Cabins to a Deluxe chalet with Spa. With a wide variety of powered sites they can cater for all needs from the camper van to the BIGGEST of rigs.
Cosy Corner East Free Camp
A very small camp site with limited facilities but right on the beach with lots of picnic benches and overlooking Migo Island. It is however limited to a 7 Night Stay.
Albany Gardens Holiday Resort
Conveniently located just 1km from Albany town centre and a short drive to some of the most spectacular natural attractions in Australia. The park offers a wide selection of great value accommodation.