Albany, WA, Australia

Albany is a small city on the southern corner of Western Australia. Once a whaling town, it’s today known for its beautiful beaches, coastal granite formations, nearby wineries and majestic forest.

The wider Albany area is the traditional home of the Minang Noongar Aboriginal people, and traces of their existence here date back 25,000 years. This includes the Oyster Harbor stone fish traps, 9 miles west of Albany, eight semi-circles of low loose stone walls in the Kalgan River, which were used for thousands of years and are now an Australian heritage site.

Although the harbor was claimed for the British in 1791 by Royal Navy Officer George Vancouver, for whom the Canadian city is named, Albany wasn’t settled until Boxing Day 1826. The original settlement of around 50 men, half of whom were convicts, arrived from Sydney on the Brig Albany, and you can visit a full-size replica of the ship during your call.

You can also pay a visit to the former whaling station at Frenchman Harbor, now known as Discovery Bay. This was the last working whaling station in Australia, which closed in 1978 and is now one of the world’s largest whaling museums.

Albany was the departure point for over 41,000 soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who left to fight in the First World War, and the National Anzac Center evocatively recounts many of their personal stories. In a reciprocal agreement in 1985, the stretch of water leading into Princess Harbor became Ataturk Channel, and is now overlooked by a statue of the former Turkish President, while the Turkish Government officially named the beach at Gallipoli where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed “Anzac Cove.”

You could devote your time in Albany to exploring the abundant gifts nature has bestowed here. These include long stretches of golden sand, such as Middleton Beach, Whalers Cove and Little Beach, which is regarded among Australia’s finest. The Torndirrup National Park occupies a stretch of coast defined by granite headlands and limestone cliffs with formations such as blowholes, the Natural Bridge, and the Gap whose viewing platform extends out over the water that rushes to and fro 100 feet below.

A little further inland is the Valley of the Giants national park, with its Tree Top Walk that rises up nearly 125 feet above the forest canopy. Back at ground level, you can also follow a meandering path through the Ancient Empire, an area of 400-year-old red tingle trees.

The Albany area is one of Australia’s largest wine-producing regions, sprawled over almost 400 square miles. It’s home to award-winning wineries, and many of their doors are open for tastings. The area is known for Riesling, Shiraz and Chardonnay, and some of the vines date back to the original clippings brought from Europe. Another prized local resource is sandalwood oil, and you can find out more about its production, its value and its use in perfumes and for medicinal benefits.