A quaint port city on the southwest coast of Western Australia (WA), Albany is 400km from the state capital of Perth and set on a natural inlet called the Princess Royal Harbour. Being the oldest permanently settled town in WA, Albany is rich in history, natural beauty and preserved heritage, making this a popular place for people to explore the southwest region of Australia .
You can drive to Albany from Perth which will take you around four hours. It’s best to have a car so you can see the sites. There are also daily bus services from the capital or you can fly into the Albany airport which is ten km north of the town. You can hire a bicycle to get around town and to the beach if you would prefer not to drive. Albany sometimes has big cruise ships stopping at the port.
There is some nice accommodation close to the port which is great if you have transport. If not you might want to stay in the town instead. Dorm beds start at around $25 a night, nice double rooms start at $80 and there are a few with some lovely views of the surrounding area. A deluxe double room on the beach will set you back around $190. Just outside the town are a few caravan and camping parks, set in nature so it’s a great budget option.
The town has a lot of history behind it so get immersed in the historical sites such as the convict jail, the museums and the Princess Royal Fortress. Visit whale world or take a whale watching tour, the museum has some cool whale skeletons. Take the historic walking trail, you can get a free map from the tourist information centre and this will take you to 39 places of historical interest. There is a war memorial and another couple of walking trails with some nice views of the area.
Just outside of Albany are some spectacular national park and worth visiting if you love nature. The Stirling Range National Park has some very plants and sheer cliffs which make for beautiful scenery. The Torndirrup National Park has a great natural bridge and panoramic views like no other. A trip along the Rainbow Coast and stop at a few of the local towns along the way is a nice journey.
The diving and snorkelling off the coast of Albany is rather up and coming as not many people know about it. There are a couple of centres in the town and some really cool dives to experience. You have some awesome wrecks and reefs and all sorts of great animals such as seals and the rare Leafy Sea Dragon. The best time to dive is autumn and the water is a little chilly so if you love cold water diving then you love it here. Visibility is up to about 25 metres.
The most popular dive is the HMAS Perth, at 133 long this war ship might need a couple of dives to truly appreciate it. The dive is suitable for any level and it’s a great place to get your wreck certification. The other wreck is the Cheynes III but it sits at 22 metres so you’ll need your advanced certification to do this dive. Check out the seals at Seal Cove or take a trip out to Michealmas Reef where macro photographers will have a ball searching for all the sea life.
So if you’re visiting WA, be sure to take a detour to Albany town and see a different side of the country, where nature will impress you and you can relax and get away from it all.
(By Kelly Luckman)