With an interesting mix of history, heritage and beautiful nature, Albany Australia is worth a couple of days’ exploration. Albany was founded in 1826, even before Fremantle and Perth. A port city, located 420km south of Perth, Albany often welcomes visitors at the end of their exploration of South West Australia.
Albany does have something for everyone: historic buildings, pristine beaches, national parks, the National ANZAC Centre, whaling history and even a street art trail! Don’t just stick to one place though, there are many things to do in and around Albany Australia!
Things to do in and around Albany Australia
You can get from Perth to Albany on the quickest road, and the drive takes 5 hours. The road is uneventful and there’s not much to see.
The drive from Cape Leeuwin takes a good 5 hours also, however it will take you through beautiful forests. If you want to include Albany as part of your Western Australia road trip, you need to figure out whether to add it to a tour of South West WA or to do it separately. I did a loop around the South West and a trip up north to Kalbarri. This is important as there are some significant distances involved. For example, the drive from Margaret River to Albany takes about 4 hours…
If you are limited in time, or don’t have wheels, I would suggest taking a local tour. Check out additional information and current tour prices.
In any case, be prepared for variety and some stunning sights!
Where to Stay in Albany
Accommodation in Albany is pretty similar to what you find everywhere in Australia, with lots of motels and motor lodges. You have the option to stay in “downtown Albany” or in more residential areas.
I have selected a few options for Albany accommodation based on location and type.
King George Sound
Albany is nestled in a natural harbour. King George Sound is a majestic body of water, peppered with little islands and wilderness areas. The best views over the sound are from Mount Clarence, where the National ANZAC Centre is.
When you travel Western Australia, views over the coast are amongst the most beautiful sights and King George Sound won’t disappoint.
National ANZAC Centre
The National ANZAC Centre commemorates the First World War and the sacrifice made by Australian and New Zealand troops (known as Anzacs). The museum is comprehensive and rich in artefacts, memories and stories. The experience is meant to be interactive.
You are given a mobile-like device with the name and picture of an ANZAC and along the way, you can scan the device, which will give you information about the ANZAC through audio, such as their enlistment record, if and where they died, or what they did after coming back from the war.
I have visited many war museums and I usually find them depressing, with a very one-sided view. I especially liked the Albany ANZAC Centre for the mix of historical facts and the personal experiences of those involved. The displays also include soldiers other than Anzacs, including Germans and Turks.
The fact that you follow your ANZAC throughout the visit makes it engaging and almost personal. However, I found listening to the audio and reading the displays at the same time a little confusing, so it’s best to take your time.
The chronology of the museum goes from enlistment, convoy, Gallipolli, to the Western Front and the Middle East.
The design of the building is quite striking and you have stunning views over King George Sound.
As most of the ANZAC troops left from Albany, Kind George Sound was the last anchorage point for the young men going to war. No less than 40,000 troops left in two main convoys, which also included 16,000 horses. A third of the troops didn’t come back.
Once you are done with the museum, there are several lookouts to visit, including the memorial to Padre White.
It’s not the happiest of places to visit in Western Australia but it’s a moving and worthwhile experience.
Don’t miss the top of Mount Clarence to see the views over King George Sound.
We also saw the incredible Field of Lights however this is no longer in Albany.
Lunch in an Old Pub
With its old buildings, Albany has a lot of character, and we found an old pub for lunch. The food scene is a little limited in Albany but the Earl of Spencer was a good place for lunch. I recommend that over the Albany Hotel.
Western Australia beaches are famous around the world for being deserted and pristine. We only made it to one Albany beach and the weather wasn’t the best, but it looked like a perfect place for a day out…
I’m sure the locals would argue that the area has some of the best Australian beaches and it would be hard to disagree
Torndirrup National Park
One of the most visited national parks in Western Australia, Torndirrup National Park is 10km south of Albany, on the southern side of Kind George Sound. It’s an easy drive on Frenchman Bay Road and should be part of your Albany sightseeing.
Torndirrup National Park has some interesting rock formations and views over the rugged coast.
The Gap Natural Bridge
This is a rock formation, literally a bridge of rock over the water. There is a walkway so it’s an easy walk. You can see the natural bridge from the side and you can also approach on the overarching platform.
This is quite impressive and a little dizzying, especially if you are scared of heights. But the water rushing underneath is fascinating, and the colours are very beautiful.
With such a rugged coastline, no wonder things to do in the South West include natural curiosities!
I am a little puzzled by Australia’s passion of blowholes… You seem to find them everywhere, including in Tasmania. And they always tend to be a bit disappointing, you expect an explosion of water and end up seeing a weak upward trickle…
Anyway, these blowholes don’t even blow water, but air! And that’s what makes them weird.
In order for the blowholes to “operate”, you need big waves crashing at the bottom of the cliff. It’s very windy up there and all you can see is some polished cracks in the rock. We saw some people sitting down by the cracks, as if they were waiting for something, so we did the same.
When the blowholes “blow” comes a very big rush of air and noise. You don’t want to stand too close, it’s a bit freaky… There you go, one of the stranger Albany attractions!
Albany’s Historic Whaling Station
At the end of Frenchman Bay Road is the world’s only completely preserved whaling station.
Whaling activity was first recorded in King George Sound in the 1840s but the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was established in 1952, to hunt for humpback whales according to strict quotas. After the ban on humpback whaling in 1963, the company hunted sperm whales…
The company ended up having three whale chasers (boats) but couldn’t afford the upkeep and closed in 1978. The Cheynes IV is the world’s only preserved whale chaser ship and can be visited on site.
The museum was opened in 1980 and absolutely worth visiting, as all the buildings and equipment are remarkably preserved.
The museum is open every day, except Christmas Day, from 9am to 5pm. Guided tours run every hour on the hour, and last 40 minutes. I highly recommend taking a tour to learn about the history of whaling and the past uses of whaling products. You can then wander around on your own. To do the place justice, I would recommend around 3 to 4 hours.
You might be put off by the fact that this is where many whales were slaughtered but this is one of the most interesting places to visit in Albany. Apart from the fact that everything is so well preserved, it’s actually a non-judgmental view of the whaling industry, respecting the fact that local men worked really hard.
Today, there is simply too little requirement for whale products for the industry to exist and the Albany Whaling Centre is much more focused on advocating for conservation.
Things we haven’t seen in Albany yet
There are more Albany tourist attractions to see, we didn’t have time for all of them…
Old Convict Gaol & Albany Museum
As many places in Australia, Albany was built on convict labour… The Albany Old Gaol was built in 1852 to house convicts transported to work as labourers. The building served as a gaol and a convict hiring depot. After an extension in 1873, it was commissioned as an official gaol and used as a police lock-up during the Depression.
After a renovation, the Albany Old Gaol and Museum now chronicles stories of early settlement, convict history and contains photos of Albany history.
There is some pretty good street art in Perth and Fremantle. Street art is also popular in rural areas in Western Australia, especially around silos. I’ll get there next time!
This is a replica of the convict ship. In 1826, the Brig Amity sailed from Sydney to King George Sound with crew members, 23 convicts, 21 soldiers, domestic animals, food crops and building materials. The first European colony is what is now Western Australia was thus established.
The real ship was shipwrecked in 1844.
Things to do in the area or on the way
There are more things to include on a West Coast trip if you have time. I especially liked the treetop walk
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
If you are driving to Albany from Cape Leeuwin and Augusta, I recommend stopping at the Valley of the Giants, near Walpole WA. This area of South West WA has some incredible wilderness and some of the tallest trees in the world.
The Tree Top Walk is a nature-based designed to give visitors an appreciation for the ancient trees of this area. A 600m walkway is suspended 40m above ground and you can wander around the canopy.
The red tingle tree is a type of eucalyptus tree, can grow above 60m high and can live over 400 years old. Their roots are especially fragile and subject to erosion, hence the reason for the suspended walkway.
The walkway moves a fair bit with the weight of people shifting around but it’s a lovely walk through the top of the trees…
The Tree Top Walk is open from 9am to 5pm everyday except Christmas Day
Extended hours 9am to 7pm apply from 26 Dec to 26 Jan.
As this is some distance from Albany, you may want to consider staying nearby. Walpole is only 20km from the Valley of the Giants.
There isn’t a lot of accommodation in this area but this luxury apartment in Walpole is perfect.
Greens Pool WA
Between Walpole and Denmark Australia (not to be confused), in William Bay National Park lies a small white sandy beach ringed with large granite boulders. The water is crystal clear and the beach slopes gently, which is great if you are swimming with young children. The place is great for snorkelling and safe swimming.
Greens Pool is known for its stunning colours and Instagrammable profile. We got there towards the end of the day. There was still plenty of light but for the turquoise colours to be at their best, I think you need to be there in the morning.
Elephant Rocks Australia is another interesting and very photogenic beach with dome-like rock formations but we missed it altogether…
We didn’t find many things to do in nearby Denmark WA, but you can stay there as it’s only 20km from Greens Pool. Denmark accommodation is actually quite nice.
Denmark WA accommodation
There is more choice for accommodation in Denmark. The Slow Drift has a perfect vibe for a beach holiday!
East of Albany
We didn’t have enough time to see more places on our West Coast Australia road trip, we had to head back from Albany to Perth to take part in Christmas celebrations. I would love to see more Western Australia national parks and continue adding to my collection of the best beaches in Western Australia…
Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
For more unspoilt coastal scenery and the only place in the world where a little marsupial called Gilbert’s Potoroo lives in the wild, head to Two Peoples Bay. There is only about 40 specimen in the wild and they’re unlikely to show up for photos but the place is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Western Australia..
West Cape Howe National Park
For karri forest and coastal scrub, visit West Cape National Park. Most of the park is only accessible to 4WD vehicles but you can easily get to the Shelley Beach lookout with a 2WD.
Porongurup National Park Castle Rock Granite Skywalk
Barely an hour north of Albany, Porongurup National Park has some great hikes. I can’t wait to discover the Castle Rock Granite Skywalk.
Castle Rock is a granite outcrop standing at 670m. The suspended granite walk is a steep hike but you get to admire the view!
Albany Whaling Station
West Coast Australia
What to do in Fremantle WA
My next Perth to Albany road trip will include these places for sure. Do you have special tips you can share? Please tell me in the comments below!
Save these tips for Albany, Australia on Pinterest!