Originally settled by convicts and used as a military base, Albany was first settled in 1827, making it the oldest city in Western Australia. Back in the early 19th century, the French had their eye on Western Australia. Since what is now known as Albany had the largest natural harbor in that region of the country, it was felt that it needed protecting.
Today, Albany’s primary industry is tourism. The city’s rich and colourful history remains on display in its architecture and historical sites. This, combined with the area’s natural beauty makes Albany one of Western Australia’s premier tourist destinations.
One of the best ways to see many of the best of the more than 50 historical sites in Albany is to take the Amity Trail. The thirty minute tour of the Amity Trail is an ideal way to get to know the city. Also not to be missed is the replica of the Brig Amity, the ship that brought the first settlers and convicts into Albany.
The last whaling ships withdrew from Albany in 1979, but “whaling” in the form of whale watching is still a big part of Albany’s attraction. You can often easily spot whales from the shore, but for a more exciting and close-up view of magnificent Southern Right and Humpback whales, you will want to take a whale watching cruise. While you’re at it, you will want to visit Whale World, a fascinating exhibit located at the site of Australia’s last whaling station.
Albany’s rugged coastline and sheltered white sand beaches make it a favorite with holiday makers in landlocked Perth. The Gap, a narrow, rectangular inlet flanked by 20 foot cliffs is a dizzying experience, especially when big waves sweep in and crash against the rocks. The nearby Natural Bridge is also an amazing sight. Another coastal attraction you won’t want to miss is the ruins of the Old Forts Lighthouse on King Point.
One of the more popular scenic walks in Albany is the Middleton Beach Boardwalk. It’s not a long walk, only around 2 miles (3km), but makes you feel like you have immersed yourself in nature. More adventurous explorers head for the rugged coastline in Torndirrup National Park.
Long before the European settlers arrived in the Albany area, it was home to indigenous Australians, who called the area Kinjarling or “place of water.” This was a good name for the region, because rainfall is high throughout the winter. During the peak summer holiday season, there is just enough rain to freshen the air keep the landscape green and verdant.
Now that tourism has become Albany’s major industry, there is no shortage of Albany accommodations to choose from. They run the gamut from comfortable budget accommodations to luxurious resorts. Albany’s permanent population is less than 30,000, making it an ideal place to stay. Everything is at your fingertips, but the city has a wide-open, spacious feel. To get the most out of your vacation in Albany, plan on staying awhile. There is just too much you will want to see to try to cram it all in in a day or two.