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Albany: Historical Sites; Natural Sights

Albany is the oldest European settlement in Western Australia. Testaments to yesteryear can be found throughout town, from the Princess Royal Fortress, atop Mount Adelaide, to the Convict Gaol. Many heritage buildings have been converted into museums.

Visitors can soak up the atmosphere in scenic surrounds, as Albany is set along the Rainbow Coast, where granite boulders, white sandy beaches and lush coastal forests are the norm. Once you’ve had your history fix, trek through national parks, discover over 20 area beaches or observe whales, seals and dolphins in their natural habitat.

Holiday rentals in Albany include townhouses near the waterfront, cottages nestled in the bush and apartments close to historical sites.

Albany: Beaches and Watersports

From the centre of town, walk or drive a short distance to Albany’s beaches. The closest to town is Middleton Beach, which is popular with families, swimmers and fishermen. Drive to Middleton Beach in a matter of minutes or take the 4 km boardwalk and make the journey to or from town on foot. It is also possible to walk along the sand in the other direction to Emu Point, another protected swimming beach with great fishing.

The waters of the Rainbow Coast are also known to provide plentiful snorkelling and diving opportunities. The purposefully sunken HMAS Perth rests just a few kilometre offshore and is one of the area’s main diving and snorkelling sites. If you would like to snorkel closer to shore, try out Little Beach’s lagoon.

Marine Life Observation in Albany

Once a whaling station, Albany is now a prime whale watching hub. Between June and October, join a whale watching tour for a day at sea, snapping shots of humpback and southern right whales.

The waters around Albany are also a year-round home to dolphins, and a variety of tours and cruises also allow you to get close to these friendly marine mammals.

To spot some seals in their natural habitat, make your way to the rocks at Bald Head, which you can access on foot, if you’re up for the challenge, or see from the water if you hire a boat or as part of a tour.

National Parks near Albany

The rugged coastline close to Albany is covered by lush vegetation, interrupted only by cliffs and granite boulders. Much of the land along the shore is considered a national park or reserve. These parks are interwoven with walking trails, providing scenic views of the ocean and hinterland.

Closest to town, Torndirrup National Park offers numerous hiking opportunities, including a 10 km trek that will take you over Isthmus Hill, along Flinders Peninsula and end at Bald Head. Within the park, you will be able to see a naturally formed granite bridge, The Gap, and several blowholes. Walkways lead to these natural attractions.

A short drive from Albany, West Cape Howe National Park offers prime views of the rugged coastline and granite formations for which this part of the coast is famous. While you’re here, spend some time at Shelley Beach, where local fishermen tend congregate. This picturesque beach is caught between giant granite boulders.

Historical Albany

The Albany Convict Gaol has been entirely restored and is now a museum. Walk through old cells and wardens’ quarters and find out about the convicted men and women who were sent to Australia to work as skilled labourers. During your visit, you will also be able to see cell carvings and art by Aboriginal prisoners, dating back to the 1870s.

If you’re interested in military history, go to Princess Royal Fortress, on the summit of Mount Adelaide. Now a military museum, the fort is the setting of the National Anzac Centre. As you wander along the ramparts, stop at the many lookouts for views over town and far down the coast.

One of the oldest remaining homes in the state, Patrick Taylor Cottage, is located in Albany. The cottage was built in 1832. Take a self-guided tour of its 11 rooms for insight into what life was like for early settlers to the area.

Getting to Albany

Albany is a 4.5 hour drive from Perth. A regional airport, just 11 km from the town centre, makes it easy to get in and out of Albany. If you’d rather take public transport, various coach services link Perth to Albany.