On the way to Esperance or the Margaret River wine region, you have to stop in Albany in Western Australia! In this small historic port town, you can spend a few days exploring the beautiful old town, the museums, and the coast, which is frequented by whales and dolphins.
Albany, a former whaling port
In Albany, the English founded the first colony in Western Australia in 1826, two years before Perth and Fremantle. Until the end of the 19th century, the town was an important military and commercial port.
Albany then turned to whaling, which was considered the town’s most important industry from the fifties to the eighties. At the time of its closure, it was the last Anglophone whaling station in the southern hemisphere. This site has been converted into a unique museum that can be visited today. You can jump on a fully restored whaling boat and learn more about these magnificent mammals. A visit to this museum takes about 3 hours and costs $ 29 per person. Fortunately, whales are no longer sought after by whalers but only by tourists these days!
During the migration season, from June to October, you can see humpback whales diving and breaching in their natural environment on a boat tour or directly from shore. It’s a wonderful experience that attracts a large number of visitors to the region. The economy of Albany and its 33,000 inhabitants is based on tourism and fishing today.
Things to do in Albany
The old history (in relation to Australia as a young country) and the historical buildings create a certain atmosphere in this town. Have a look at the Town Hall, St. John’s Church, Old Farm Strawberry Hill, and the old post office. When visiting the city centre, you can browse through the many shops in a relaxed atmosphere. Be sure to go to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and buy fruits, vegetables, and craft products (cheese, honey etc.) directly from the farmers. Are you looking for a farm job? Then ask farmers directly if they need a hand.
Get your picnic basket and go to Anzac Peace Park. From there, 41,000 men and women left Australia in 1914 to fight alongside the Allies during the First World War. The National Anzac Centre traces this historical event. This recently opened museum has received several awards for its originality. For $ 24, you’ll experience a unique interactive experience that puts you in the shoes of 32 young Australian soldiers and nurses.
Through audios and videos you will be able to relive the journey of these soldiers from the departure from Australia to the bomb fields and their eventual return. An interesting homage to the story.
From the Princess Royal Fortress, one of the first fortresses of the Australian Defense of 1893, you have a stunning view of the bay and see traditional guns.
After a busy day in history and culture, it is time for a drink. We recommend the terrace of an industrial-style bar-restaurant called “Due South”. This is located next to the Anzac Peace Park at the harbour docks. After, you can sit down on the lawn in front of the “Brig Amity” and watch the sunset. The Brig Amity is the replica of one of the first ships to arrive in Western Australia. You can visit the whole ship from the sleeping chambers to the hold. Don’t forget to take a photo at the helm!
From the city centre you can walk to the beautiful Middleton Beach. The view of the coast is stunning, and during migrating season, you will certainly see humpback whales. At Middleton Beach, you go for a dip in turquoise water. The beach is even protected by a shark net (Welcome to Australia!). Organise a barbecue with friends on the white sandy beach under pine trees. The beach of Emu Point, a little further, is also beautiful.
Bars & Restaurants
You will find restaurants for every taste and budget! For a small budget, we recommend the falafel and garlic bread from Istanbul Kebab. Locals, who come and go there all day long, have found out that despite the unfriendly facade, the food is excellent. End the day in a bar in the city centre. Our favourites are 6th Degree and White Star, which have live concerts on weekdays and weekends. If you want to go dancing, go to Studio 146. There you get retro decoration and music of the 80s. Even though this is not the fanciest club in Australia, we promise you get a few laughs and you go back in time!
Find a job in Albany
In Albany you will surely meet many other backpackers hoping to get a job at the surrounding farms (grapes, strawberries, olives, nectarines etc.) for their second year visas. By the way, the hotel industry is also doing very well there.
The surroundings of Albany
If you have a car, explore the beaches and hiking trails in the surroundings of Albany. South of the town, we recommend the natural sites in the Torndirrup National Park. Discover the Natural Bridge, a granite formation reminiscent of a huge stone bridge, which was formed by the sea. Right next to it, powerful waves dug a tunnel of about 25 m into the granite. It is very touristy, so it is best to go early in the morning or in the late afternoon. With a drone you can take really good shots there.
Then there is a change of scenery to East Albany and Two People’s Bay National Park. Admission is $ 10 per vehicle and gives you access to a few beautiful and uncrowded beaches. Definitely go to Little Beach, an idyllic bay of fine sand and clear water, perfect for a nap after all this sightseeing. If you’re still keen, do the beautiful Peak Head Walk Trail, a 2-hour hike with stunning views of the National Park and the ocean. The trail is especially beautiful in spring when the park is covered with wildflowers.
End the day with a spectacular sunset at Wind Farm. Enjoy the view and think of all your adventures.
Updated on the 23/01/2020. Initially published on the 27/01/2019.