Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 017 Contents scooptraveller.com.au 69
e Great Southern
options for exploring this area are limited only by
ALBANY -- RAINBOW'S END
When Henry Lawson returned to Sydney in 1890
after a spell in Albany, you can't help but think he
must have left a little of his heart in the old place.
"Albany will never change much. It is a pretty
town, but vague. It seems to exist only in a
somewhere-on-the-horizon sort of way. I like it all
the better for that," wrote Lawson.
Maybe that other-worldliness was also the
inspiration behind calling the strip of coast on
which Albany nestles the Rainbow Coast -- that,
and the fact it does rain quite a bit down there!
A magical spot, with crashing breakers, pristine
white beaches, historic houses and a fantastic
foodies' market -- all Albany needs is a crock of
gold to be stumbled over to complete its too-good-
to-be true status for visitors.
A TREASURE TROVE OF TALES
A four-hour drive from Perth, Albany is rightly
proud of its claim to be the oldest European
settlement in Western Australia.
Think about that for a minute... Perth only
came into being three years later. So it's hats off to
the citizens of Albany for not being overly miffed
the town on the Swan River went on to steal top
dog position (politically, anyway).
For quite awhile though, Albany kept some
status as the only point of entry for all mail to the
colony -- until engineers blasted to smithereens
the coral reef that had blocked the entrance to the
Swan River at Fremantle, finally allowing mail
ships to deliver letters direct to the capital.
Still one of its main attractions, Albany's
magnificent natural harbour has always been the
secret to its success. Clinging to the bottom end of
the continent and long home to many Aboriginal
people, for hundreds of years many passing
European ships could clearly see the potential of
such an attractively situated natural harbour.
But even a cursory trawl through the history
books reveals they couldn't make up their minds
about whether it was a good idea to actually come
ashore or not. From the first Dutch, who came
by in 1626, to French and British sailors who
came past mapping the coast, they seem to have
pondered the region's potential and then moved
along. Decades would pass between each visitor
skimming the coast but never quite committing
their country's flag to these rocky shores.
However, on Christmas Day, 1826 a British
Army expedition (with soldiers and convicts) in
the brig Amity, led by Major Edmund Lockyer,
finally and decisively claimed the largest deepwater
harbour on the southern coast of Australia (after
Melbourne) for King and Country.
In the often-murky history of European
dealings with local Aboriginal groups, thankfully
Lockyer sounds like a good egg with a natural gift
for PR -- he won over the locals by rescuing their
women who had been held captive on a nearby
island by sex-crazed sealers.
This magnanimous act was in turn rewarded
with a special Dreamtime dance and music
HISTORY BECKONS: (Clockwise
from above) York St, Albany; the
town's old jail; the Brig Amity replica,
recently refurbished for $250,000.
(Opposite page) Greens Pool,
Links Archive Scoop Traveller WA 018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page