We spent some time in Perth , the capital of Western Australia and toured some of the lovely national parks in the area. Now we are going to visit two interesting cities – Albany and Esperance. The best way to travel about Australia is to do it big if you an arrange it. Of course, you could fly from point to point but you would miss out on so much. Therefore I have chosen to write this as if we were leaving Perth and traveling by road on our way to Albany. Some of what you can expect on the journey to Esperance the end point is seeing where the Outback meets-up with the Southern Ocean and stunning white-beaches stretching along the coast like a string of pearls. The best time for such a trip is from September to November when colorful wildflowers grow and it is the tail end of the whale watching season.
Albany is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Its direct location is 418 km SE of Perth. This city is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia. The city marks the spot where the first European settlers came inland and the first convoy of ANZACs left for the battlefields of WW I. The city sits on Princess Royal Harbor, on the edge of incredible King George Sound. Walk the Bibbulmun Track carpeted by wildflowers.
Take an interesting hike along the Bibbulmun Track which stretches almost 1,000 km from Kalamunda and goes past forests, farmland and wild beaches.
From Stony Hill you can get spectacular views of Albany and its waterways and see as far north as Stirling Range National Park. More breath taking views can be had from Mount Clarence and Mount Melville, towering the city from either side. You can go snorkeling or swimming at Middleton Beach. Take a stroll along the scenic boardwalk. Off-shore there is plenty of fishing, diving and whale-watching. Fishing charters will take you fishing for such species as salmon, herring, King George whiting, pilchard, leatherjacket, tuna, snapper and shark.
At Emu Point you can feed pelicans, have a picnic or enjoy a relaxing lunch at a restaurant. Many people love to go scuba diving around the purpose-sunk HMAS Perth where you can also see many colorful fish.
Between late May and October is the annual migration of majestic southern right and humpback whales as they swim past Albany. You can get to see them from the beaches and headlands or right up close on a cruise. From July whale mating and calving is the activity upon the green seas of King George Sound. You can also spot sea lions, dolphins and sea birds. The city’s once thriving whaling industry has now been replaced by whale-watching and you can learn more about it at the interactive whale museum.
Visitors can travel back into the fascinating history of Albany taking a tour of the replica of the ship the Brig Amity. The original ship brought the first settlers and convicts to Western Australia. This was a British army expedition that came onshore in Albany on Christmas Day in 1826. They made peaceful relations with the Aboriginal Mineng people living around King George Sound.
The more adventurous can launch hang-gliders or para-gliders from platforms built into the hill above Shelley Beach. You can discover endangered plants, animals and birds in West Gull National Park or you can head for the white beaches of Two People Bay National Park where the supposedly extinct scrub bird was recently rediscovered.
An amazing attraction is Discovery Bay which is home to Australia’s last operating whaling station, has a wonderful Botanic Garden of Australian plants and has a display through which visitors can get up close to the friendly Australian Wildlife. Visitors can make a day of it and explore it all and have a picnic or barbecue lunch.
You’ll find the heritage-listed “Whale World” site located at the tip of the Flinders Peninsula. There are guided tours available.
In Albany you can see different kinds of artwork. Located in a rustic setting opposite the river shore you’ll find the “Riverfront Gallery”. This gallery is run by twelve talented Great Southern artists and is open seven days a week. The gallery displays different lovely artworks and has a wide range of painting styles such a water colors, mixed media and modern abstract work.
Woodworks shows off the talents of the local woodworkers. It is a meeting place for ideas and innovative progresses and a place of discovery and learning for visitors. The gallery represents more than 30 fine woodworkers from Denmark and Albany and from as far away as Walpole and Bremer Bay. There are three distinct display areas: a large gallery space for furniture and large articles made of wood, an intimate space for small gifts, kitchenware and souvenirs and an upstairs mezzanine gallery that is great for exhibitions.
The Torbay Glass Studio and Gallery can be found on the south coast of Western Australia. It is run by Mark Hewson and Paris Johansen. At this gallery visitors can find functional, decorative, architectural and contemporary works of art. The art work is made using a variety of methods – copper foil, stained glass, etched, painted, fused, cast and slumped. All of their glass artwork is designed and created in their studio workshop just above the gallery.
For over 100 years The Old Farm, Strawberry Hill has been in existence. It got its name in 1890 in recognition of being the oldest farm in Western Australia. It has a rich history and a lovely location. By 1836 is had well-established gardens that produced blood oranges, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries, asparagus, figs and almonds.
Albany Heritage Park is a 260 hectare parkland reserve right in the heart of Albany. The park surrounds the summits of Mount Clarence and Mount Adelaide and stretches from the Port of Albany to the Middleton Beach shores. This park offers a unusual mix of natural, cultural and historical attractions – from wildflowers, to Aboriginal and European cultural sites. This includes pre-federation military installations at Princess Royal Fortress and the National Anzac Center. The park can be explored by car, on bike and on foot. Visitors can picnic or BBQ in the landscaped gardens. From Garrison Restaurant you can have panoramic views of Princess Royal Harbor.
Take the time to explore the historical 100 acre property that is home to Howard Park Wines and is surrounded by forest land. A most stylish modern cellar door has been specially designed using glass, concrete, stainless steel and timber which blends in perfectly with the natural surroundings. This vineyard was planted for specially growing grapes to make Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. They also produce MadFish Wines and the story of this wine began in the coastal town of Denmark at picturesque MadFish Bay. Legend has it that when the bay’s tranquility is broken by two tides meeting the fish are confused by this natural phenomenon and leap high up into the air as if they were quite mad. James Halliday, leading Australian Wine Writer awarded both Howard Park and MadFish Wineries a prestigious 5 Red Star ranking in his 2011 Australian Wine Companion. Visitors can get a complimentary tasting and are welcome to picnic in the winery’s parklands.
The National Anzac Center is Australia’s foremost museum that honors the Anzac legend. The center is located in Albany Heritage Park. When visitors enter the center they assume the identity of one of 32 Anzac characters and walk with them experiencing WW I from recruitment through training and embarkation, engagement in conflicts in the Indian Ocean prior to arrival in Egypt; and on to Gallipoli, the Palestine and Sinai; and across the Western front. These personal stories come to life through interactive, multimedia displays and audio commentary. The Centre opened on November 1, 2014, to mark the centenary of the Australian and New Zealand troop convoys’ departure from Albany’s King George Sound to enter the First World War.
Many special natural wonders await you at The Torndirrup National Park which is home to fantastic sites and natural beauty. The Gap and Natural Bridge have formed over hundreds of years by the ocean eroding a large gap in one rock face and a natural arch in another. At present until early 2016 this site is being redeveloped but once it opens again a short walk will take visitors to the blowholes, a split in the rock where the waves force air out of the top. Whales can be seen from the cliffs, particularly in the wintertime.