Albany in Western Australia is defined by the might and majesty of the Southern Ocean and is a favourite destination for grey nomads keen to explore the area’s rugged coastline and a town steeped in history.
Just five hours from Perth, and with a population of around 35,000, the city is where the first European settlers set foot in WA … and evidence of the past is everywhere.
For history-loving grey nomads, highlights include the Albany Convict Gaol, the Princess Royal Fortress, the Patrick Taylor Cottage which is the oldest dwelling in Western Australia, and some great museums including Whale World, which is housed in a former whaling station. The town was also the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War.
One of the best ways to soak in the city’s history is to take the Amity Trail, a 30-minute self-guided walk that takes visitors past colonial buildings, historic taverns, an old convict prison and whaling ships.
The fact that whales are no longer hunted here helps to make it s great place to spot migrating humpback, southern right and blue whales. A top spot to do just that is Torndirrup National Park. Here, the pounding waves have carved amazing formations out of the granite coastline. Two of the best known are The Gap and Natural Bridge.
The Middleton Beach boardwalk is another place offering superb views over King George Sound. There are also white sandy beaches in the area and, away from the coast, Albany is also close to two low mountain ranges, the Porungurups and Stirling Ranges.
For those keen to get in and amongst the area’s abundant natural beauty, then the famed Bibbulum Walking Track ends its 1,000- kilometre-plus journey from near Perth here.
If you prefer to do your sightseeing from a car seat, a drive up to see the 18 giant turbines at the Albany Wind Farm also offers truly memorable ocean views. Or, if you are ready just to stock up on some fresh quality ingredients to cook a slap-up meal back at the van, a trip to the Albany Farmers’ Markets could be in order.
There are numerous caravan parks in Albany offering everything from beachside views, and riverside tranquility to in-town convenience.
It’s an area which really seems to have everything and, when you throw in the famous oysters, the state’s largest wine region, and a boutique beer brewery, you might just have to seriously consider delaying the rest of your Big Lap by a month or two.