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Albany’s waters are chilly (pack your thick
wetsuit) but they’re also home to one of the
most diverse collections of dive spots in the
state, from wrecks, near-shore islands and
colonies of sea lions, to fields of plate coral
and cave systems. And with so many whales
passing along this coast, there’s a good
chance you’ll spot one. An advanced dive
ticket is required to dive the HMAS Perth
wreck (it sits at 35m) but it’s an excellent
dive and has been well thought out – an
interpretive trail leads around the 133m-long
vessel with plaques pointing to interesting
plant and animal life, and facts like where
it was shelled during the Vietnam War.
The wreck of the Cheynes III is has been
submerged longer, so it’s home to
a wider range of marine life. It’s suitable
for all divers (with a depth of 23m), plus
seals often pop out and scare divers silly.
Experienced divers with their own boat will
find most of the popular dive sites have
moorings. Contact the Albany visitor centre,
(08) 9841 9290, for maps, guides and tips
on where to go and what you’ll need. Seal
Island is a popular local’s pick – you can dive
with the resident seal lions and enjoy plate
corals, scorpion fish, and blue groper. Keen
eyes might even spot a sea dragon. For
something a little different, the reefs off
Two Peoples Bay are home to leafy sea
dragons and the rare red lipped morwong.
For equipment hire, charters, or the
lowdown on the best sites, visit The Dive
Locker, (08) 9842 6886, or Southcoast
Diving Supplies, (08) 9841 7176.
The Munda Biddi Trail is a 1000km off-road
trail from Mundaring to Albany. This ultimate
‘cycle and camp’ trail has facilities like free
huts and campsites, toilets (BYO toilet
paper), and there is a town every 45-50km to
break up the journey. The best time to tackle
it is during autumn, spring, and parts of
winter, and it’s suitable for all skill levels (see
www.mundabiddi.org.au for more details).
In Albany, bikes can be hired from Albany
Bicycle Hire, (08) 9842 2468, which will also
deliver your bikes to any accommodation
in the Albany city area, free of charge.
Download the Cycle Amazing Albany
Map from www.transport.wa.gov.au for
an overview of all of Albany’s trails.
The Go Taste trail is an easy 75km loop
through the countryside past food
producers (see Wining and Dining,
overleaf). In town, the beach trail to
Middleton Beach is a 6km return trip littered
with lookouts and beach views, and suits
the majority of fitness levels; venture
a further 3km north from Middleton
Beach to Emu Point along the dual
pathway running along the beachfront.
For wildflowers and wildlife, a four-hour
eastward trail leads around Oyster Harbour
to Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, where
you can refresh with a swim and a picnic.
Known to keep you on your toes,
Albany skies can be bright and clear
one day, dreary and grey the next.
Temperatures are cooler than Perth’s,
so you’ll definitely need layers.
Something waterproof is also
recommended for visits to the
Blowholes, The Gap and other edge-
of-the-cliff areas where you’re likely to
get sprayed, and also because rainfall
is a strong possibility. Don’t dismiss
the bathers though – you’ll be kicking
yourself if the weather’s warm!
Albany is a small port city so there’s
no shortage of shops, restaurants,
fuel, ATMs, internet access and
accommodation. It makes a great base
for exploring the Great Southern region,
with Denmark just 30 minutes west, the
Porongurups half an hour north, and the
Stirling Ranges and Hidden Treasures
north one hour.
Albany is just over four hours on the
road from Perth via Albany Highway.
If Albany Highway’s the route you’re
taking, you can stop off at Williams,
Kojonup and Mount Barker (the wineries
and Porongurup National Park are
close by). If you’re prepared to add
a couple of hours to your trip, you can
drive via Bunbury and the picturesque
Blackwood River and Southern Forest
regions. The main road on this route
is South Western Highway. TransWA
operates return bus services to Albany
daily, departing from East Perth terminal
and taking six hours, or you can get
there in approximately an hour from
Perth by plane with Virgin Australia
As WA’s first settlement, Albany is chock-full of important historical sites.
DISCOVERY BAY | Closed in 1978, Australia’s last operating whaling station lets people
explore a ship, watch old footage, and learn how significant the whaling industry once was to
WA. If you need fresh air and a break from all the gory details, you can take in the rest of the
re-branded Discovery Bay. Open 9am-5pm. Adults $29, children $10, (08) 9844 4021.
THE NATIONAL ANZAC CENTRE | Representing the Australian and Western Australian
governments’ most significant investment in the ANZAC legend, the National ANZAC
Centre opens on November 1, 2014 to commemorate 100 years since the first convoys left
Albany’s shores to join the Great War. The museum provides an opportunity to interact with
the ANZAC story through interactive technology and layers of multimedia.
THE BRIG AMITY | This replica of the vessel that brought the first settlers is a fascinating look
into a harsher time. Thanks to a recent revamp it now has new models and audio effects, too.
Open 9:30am-4pm daily. Adults $5, children $2, (08) 9841 5403.
PRINCESS ROYAL FORTRESS | Built to protect Albany from attack from the Russians and
the French in the late 1800s, the fortress boasts restored shore batteries, armouries, barracks,
and a collection of torpedoes and naval guns you can walk among. Open from mid-October,
9am-5pm. Entry to the open areas is free of charge, (08) 9841 9333.
WA MUSEUM – ALBANY | The WA Museum has an Albany offshoot with permanent
and regular touring exhibitions that cater to kids. Learn about the influence of Mokare,
a young Nyoongar warrior, or sit in the original ‘one room, one teacher’ Torbay School.
Open 10am-4:30pm. Entry is free, although a $5 donation is suggested, (08) 9841 4844.
A sea lion on the Albany coast
(photography Jamie Kiddle).
Wesley Methodist Church, built
in 1890 (photography Maggie Whittle).
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