We spent three wonderful days exploring picturesque Albany and the surrounding region.
Albany is where the first European settlers stepped ashore in Western Australia, even predating Perth and Fremantle by a couple of years. Today it is a thriving city of over 34,000 people, on the shores of the spectacular King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour, with many kilometres of rugged coastlines and pristine sandy beaches in the surrounding region.
We took many drives to explore the surrounding coastline, including to the Torndirrup National Park, located on the peninsula to Albany’s south. This is home to two key natural rock features, namely the Gap and the Natural Bridge, which we visited twice to experience the contrast in weather conditions – from blustery winds and destructive seas on the first day, to calm conditions just two days later.
The noise and crashing waves on our first visit to the Gap was mesmerising, such was the tremendous power of the seas. The viewing platform stands 40 metres above the seas. Yet the force of the waves surged up and over the rocks 40 metres above and caused significant sea spray across the car park, saturating vehicles even at the far end of the car park, some 70 metres away!
The nearby Natural Bridge is a granite formation caused by the gradual erosion over time by pounding seas – as indicated in the short video clip below (taken on our first visit).
And the next image was taken two days later – boringly calm! Nothing to see here!
Albany is also the home of the National ANZAC Centre, which is situated within 260 hectares of parkland that includes the vantage points of Mt Clarence and adjoining Mt Adelaide and numerous memorials to our fallen soldiers. The centre overlooks the actual location from which over 41,000 ANZACs sailed from Australia, headed for World War I.
The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial (image below) stands near the top of Mt Clarence, and is a replica of a memorial initially erected in Port Said in Egypt. The original memorial was irrevocably damaged during the 1950s’ Suez Crisis, and this new memorial built in Albany using masonry salvaged from the Egyptian monument.
The National ANZAC Centre is a very modern museum that brings the individual stories of WWI military service personnel and support people to life, through highly interactive displays and technologies.
Jen was thrilled to learn that the armed merchant ship, HMAT Berrima, escorted the Second Convoy of troop ships from Albany in December 1914 (including towing a submarine). The Berrima was initially launched the year before as a passenger liner carrying British emigrants to Australia, but was requisitioned for military use during WWI. Following the war, the Berrima resumed the expat run, and was the very ship that carried Jen’s grandfather out to Australia from Northern Ireland in 1927!
We continued our exploration of Albany and the region following our visit to the National ANZAC Centre. Some of the highlights are presented below:
Finally, we paid a visit to Darrel Radcliffe’s amazing outdoor gallery of chainsaw art in Albany, an unusual drive-through experience.
These images below are just a sample of the unique artwork on display. Enjoy!
Next stop … a day trip out from Albany to the Porongurup National Park to hike up to Castle Rock and the Granite Skywalk.