On your way to the beaches of Esperance or the Margaret River wine region, you have to stop by Albany in Western Australia! In this small, historic port city, you can spend a few days exploring the beautiful old town area, the museums, and the coast, where you can often spot whales and dolphins.
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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 1950s to the 1980s. 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 three hours and costs $32 per person. The museum is open from 9am to 5pm.
Fortunately, whales are more sought after by tourists than by whalers 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.
When to go to Albany and how to get there
It’s recommended to visit Albany during the summer, to enjoy pleasant temperate temperatures while Perth is baking at 40 degrees. In winter, the weather is quite unpredictable – you could end up with beautiful clear skies or grey clouds and rain!
Located 400km from Perth, 480km from Esperance and 360km from Margaret River, Albany is accessible by car or a Transwa bus.
Renting a van is also one of the best ways to explore the city and its surroundings. You can compare offers from different vehicle rental providers using the Motorhome Republic comparison tool below.
Things to do in Albany
Visit historic sites
For a young country like Australia, Albany has a rich history. This gives a certain charm to the city, which boasts many well preserved historic buildings, including the Town Hall, St John’s Church, Old Farm Strawberry Hill, and the Old Post Office. You can take in all of these buildings on a walk through the city centre.
Albany is relaxed, family-friendly, and a great place for shopping. Don’t miss the Farmer’s Market, where you can buy fruit, vegetables and artisanal products like cheese and honey directly from the producers. Looking for a farm job? It’s a great opportunity to get chatting to some farmers and ask whether they need any help!
With a new work contact in your phone or a picnic basket full of produce, head to the Anzac Peace Park. From here, 41,000 men and women left Australia in 1914 to fight alongside the Allies during the First World War. The National Anzac Centre tells the story of this historical event. The centre has received several awards for its originality, and is well worth a visit. For $25, you can put yourself in the shoes of one of 32 young Australian soldiers or nurses in a unique interactive experience.
Through audio and video, you will be able to relive their journey, from their departure from Australia to the front, and their eventual return. Nearby, from the Princess Royal Fortress (one of the first fortresses of the Australian Defense of 1893) you can also enjoy a stunning view of the bay, as well authentic canons from the time.
After a busy day of history and culture, it’s time for a drink. We recommend you check out the terrace of an industrial-style bar/restaurant called Due South, which is located next to the Anzac Peace Park at the harbour docks. Afterwards, you can sit down on the lawn in front of the Brig Amity and watch the sunset. The Brig Amity is a 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!
Walks and hikes
From the city centre you can walk to the beautiful Middleton Beach, which takes about an hour. The view of the coat is gorgeous and during migrating season you might even spot some humpback whales.
If you have any energy left, push on to the Point King lighthouse to admire the spectacular view! Once you’re there, you can swim safely in the turquoise waters, which are protected by a shark net. You could also organise a barbecue with friends at the edge of this white sand beach lined with pine trees. The beach of Emu Point, a little further on, is also beautiful.
For lovers of walking, don’t miss the Bibbulmun Track, one of the longest trails in the world (+1000km). A change of scenery is guaranteed here: huge forests, unspoiled beaches and agricultural land.
Bars and restaurants in Albany
You will find restaurants to suit all tastes and all budgets in Albany!
If you’re on a tight budget, try Istanbul Kebab & Turkish Bakery’s falafels and garlic bread. Don’t be put off by the shopfront – the food is excellent.
After dinner, you can spend the evening in one of the bars in the city centre. We’re big fans of 6th degree and White Star, which have live music weekdays and weekends. If you want to dance, head to Studio 146, which features decor and music from the 80s. Admittedly, it’s not the most chic club in Australia, but we promise you a few giggles and retro vibes!
Whiskey enthusiasts claim that the city of Albany produces some of the finest whiskey in the world. See for yourself during a tasting at the Great Southern Distilling Company.
Wine lovers, head to the wine region of the Great South, which easily rivals Margaret River in terms of wine quality. Many different types of visits and tastings are available, and you can try the Singlefile or the Forest Hill Vyneyard.
Where to stay in Albany
There are lots of different types of accommodation in Albany, including caravan parks (Big4, Holiday Park etc) and small, mid-range hotels and cosy places.. We recommend Kinselas Water Views for a relaxing staying with gorgeous views.
Our favourite places to stay is 1849 Backpackers. This colourful youth hostel was formerly a slaughterhouse, and has a unique, welcoming atmosphere. The free pancakes at breakfast are to die for!
The surroundings of Albany
If you have a car, it’s definitely worth exploring the surroundings of Albany, which has lots of beaches and great hikes.
South of Albany
South of Albany, you can experience four seasons in a day. The city is part of the Rainbow Coast, which gets its name from its extremely variable weather! We recommend the Torndirrup National Park and its natural curiosities. Visit the Natural Bridge, a granite formation carved out by the sea, which looks like a huge stone bridge. Right next to it, the sea has carved a hole in the granite, creating The Gap, a hole about 25m wide.
These attractions are very popular with tourists, so we recommend going early in the morning or towards the end of the afternoon to avoid the crowds. It’s a great place to get some pictures and video.
35km east of Albany, the Two People’s Bay National Park is a must-visit. Admission costs $15 per vehicle and gives you access to many beautiful beaches. Don’t miss the picturesque Little Beach, a heavenly cove with fine sand and clear water, ideal for a siesta after all your exploring! If you’re feeling brave, set off on the superb Peak Head Walk trail, a hike of about 2 hours with superb views of the national park and the ocean. The trail is especially beautiful in the spring when the park is covered in wildflowers.
Finish your visit in style with one last spectacular sunset at the Wind Farm, where you can think back on your trip and no doubt vow to come back to Albany!
Find a job in Albany
You will surely meet many backpackers in Albany, attracted by the possibility of working on neighbouring farms (grapes, strawberries, olives, nectarines etc are grown here), but also by the vibrant hospitality sector in the city.
Find out about the best time to get farm work in Australia with our fruit picking map calendar