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Albany, WA: Don’t Pinch Yourself, These Beaches Are Real
Australia’s gorgeous beaches are on full display in Albany, and whether you are looking for rugged coastline, a private cove, or gnarly waves to strut your stuff, you’ll find it in Western Australia’s oldest permanent settlement. With a population of around 33,000 people, Albany is small on size but big on things to do. A quaint colonial quarter, revitalized waterfront, and the start to the Bibbulmun Track draw visitors year-round, making it necessary to book the area’s backpacker hostels, bed and breakfasts, and charming hotels well in advance. If you stay for a week or just a night, Albany is ready to show you what its got.
Beaches for Days
Albany has a beach for every taste, so grab your sunscreen and head for the sand and surf. Nature’s wow factor will greet you at any one of the long stretches of unspoilt coastline, but perhaps the most postcard-worthy is Waterfall Beach, located in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. Stop in at the visitor centre and hike the 5 km Heritage Trail to make the most of your beach day, and be sure to listen for one of the two endangered bird species that call the nature reserve home. Goode Beach is another pristine slice of heaven that will be hard to tear yourself away from. Long walks on the beach will never mean the same thing again, and it will be hard to top the crystal clear waters and sandy shores found here. It’s also a sheltered beach, so wind is at a minimum, and as an added bonus, fish are plentiful. If you find yourself in Albany from June until October, Frenchman’s Bay could be a once in a lifetime experience. This is the perfect spot to watch the breathtaking annual whale migration. Family-friendly swimming, snorkeling and BBQ areas are also highly rated here, and it’s in close proximity to Torndirrup National Park, Whale World and the Natural Rock Bridge. When it’s time to return to your hotel, you’ll have visions of some of the best beaches in the world to lull you to sleep.
There’s Lots to Do Outdoors
If you are looking for a different kind of outdoor activity, give Albany Heritage Park a try. Located in the heart of Albany, it’s a 260-hectare parkland reserve that has an interesting mix of cultural, historical and natural attractions. Of note is the Princess Royal Fortress, a 1800s fort tucked amongst imposing boulders that was a key protection point for Australia. Visitors can also check out the Point King Lighthouse and walk the many nature trails that provide awe-inspiring ocean views. If you would rather spend your money on seeing the sights, it’s worth keeping in mind that Albany Heritage Park is close to a number of budget hotels that come with great reviews. For more outdoor educational opportunities, The Brig Amity is an enjoyable history lesson for all ages. It’s a replica of the original sailing vessel that brought the first settlers to the Albany area. There are several decks to explore and an audio tour, making for an informative and fun visit. Another stop on the long list of local attractions worth considering is the Old Farm, Strawberry Hill. Charming would be an understatement when describing the oldest farm in Western Australia, and it’s easy to picture life as it was over 100 years ago. The National Trust has restored the property to reflect its historical significance, and guests are treated to a look inside the original house, as well as a walk through the bountiful gardens.
Come in Out of the Sun
Avoid a sunburn with a visit to one of the many museums in Albany. The Western Australia Museum should have what you are looking for, and you are guaranteed an interesting look into the colonial and indigenous beginnings of the area. There are also educational programs and a gift shop in this small but important museum. The Albany Convict Gaol and Museum is another place that paints a picture of the past, and if you close your eyes, you might even be able to envision the prisoners who lived here up until the 1930s. If the walls could talk, there would be hundreds of stories about the resident convicts who were often shipped from other parts of Australia to serve hard time. For an equally somber outing, The National Anzac Museum might leave you a little glum, but you’ll be glad you visited to learn about an important piece of Australia’s history. The museum overlooks the harbour where over 41,000 men and women said a sad goodbye as they departed for the Great War, many of whom never returned. Historical artifacts and multimedia exhibits do a great job of keeping visitors engrossed, but when it’s time to head back outside to elevate your mood, there are several excellent lookout points in the area that will provide the perfect change of pace. Both the Padre White Lookout and Ataturk Lookout boast stunning 360 degree views, and the Convoy Walk and Lookout has outdoor interpretive markers that enhance a visit to the area. Hotels in the vicinity are plentiful, and many share the same views, making it possible to wake up and say, “G’day” to another mesmerising Australian vista.