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Albany Region for the Dedicated Discoverer - Discover History

Whether you are visiting Albany for a romantic getaway or a relaxing vacation, you will find our history fascinating.

Albany  is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, 418 km SE of Perth, the state capital. Albany is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia. The Albany region was home to the Menang Noongar people, who made use of the area during the summer months for fishing and other activities. They called the area Kinjarling which means "the place of rain

The coastline of the Albany area was observed for the first time in 1627 by the Dutchman François Thijssen, captain of the ship 't Gulden Zeepaert (The Golden Seahorse), who sailed to the east as far as Ceduna in South Australia and back. Captain Thijssen had discovered the south coast of Australia and charted about 1,768 kilometres (1,099 mi) of it between Cape Leeuwin and the Nuyts Archipelago.

In 29 September 1791, explorer Captain George Vancouver while exploring the south coast, entered and named King George the Third's Sound and Princess Royal Harbour, and took possession of New Holland for the British Crown. Vancouver went out of his way to establish good relationships with the local Aboriginal people.

In 1792, Frenchman Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, in charge of the Recherche and L'Esperance, reached Cape Leeuwin on 5 December and explored eastward along the southern coast. The expedition did not enter King George Sound due to bad weather.

In 1801, Matthew Flinders entered King George Sound and stayed for about a month before charting the rest of the southern Australian coastline. By 1806 he had completed the first circumnavigation of Australia.

French explorer Nicolas Baudin visited King George Sound from 18 February – 1 March 1803, in the Géographe and Casuarina. He surveyed Princess Royal Harbour, Oyster Harbour and the coast as far as Bald Island, to the east. During this visit, the Casuarina was beached in Princess Royal Harbour for repairs.  (Source Wikipedia)

Albany has many sites steeped in rich history and culture

  • The Old Farm Strawberry Hill was established in 1827 as a government farm to feed the colonial soldiers stationed around King George's Sound; it is the oldest farm in Western Australia and the homestead is an example of a colonial gentleman's residence. It became the home of the Government Resident in 1883. After a chequered history the property was vested in the National Trust WA in 1964 and is now a house museum.
  • St John's Church (1841–1848) is a stone building with shingled roofs in the Old Colonial Gothick Picturesque style. Set among trees, it was designed to be part of an overall contrived picturesque scene in the manner of an English garden landscape.
  • Scots Uniting Church (1892) was designed in the Victorian Academic Gothic style by Melbourne architect Evander McIver and built with local granite stonework.
  • The Residency Museum was established in 1850 as a depot for the Convict Establishment in Albany. It is an L shaped, single storied, masonry building with a timber framed, timber shingled roof. In 1873 it was converted into the Resident Magistrate's home. It now serves as a museum.
  • Town Hall (1888) is a two storey stone building in the Victorian Free Classical Revival style with a prominent clock tower, which dominates York Street, the main street of Albany. It has been put to many uses apart from council meetings, including public entertainment and public meetings of all kinds and even as the venue for the first regional meeting of the State Parliament.
  • University of Western Australia, Albany campus is housed in The Old Post Office which was built in two stages, the first was designed in 1869 by J Manning, the second, including a prominent tower, was designed in 1896 by George Temple-Poole.
  • The Court House, constructed of Albany brick and granite with a tiled roof, was designed in the Federation Romanesque style by the Public Works Department under the supervision of George Temple Poole and Hillson Beasley in 1897.
  • Vancouver Arts Centre (named after the explorer George Vancouver).is another example of the work of George Temple Poole. The limestone and shingle Federation Arts and Crafts style Cottage Hospital, designed in 1886 and completed in 1897.is one of the oldest hospitals in the state and served as such until 1962.
  •  London Hotel (1909) Reflected Albany's importance as a seaport, rail freight and passenger terminal. Built on the site of a wooden inn, the 1850s Chusan Hotel, named for the first P & O Line mail steamer to visit Albany. 
  • R Bell & Co (c.1887) A classic country store. Originally several buildings, erected over a number of years, holding separate enterprises, which included a bakery, tea rooms, a rural merchant and accommodation. The original 1887 bakery remains at the rear. 

ANZAC

Albany had an important role in the ANZAC legend. On 1 November 1914 Albany was the last port of call for troopships departing Australia to the battlefields during the First World War.

Albany lays claim to being the origin of the ANZAC Dawn Service tradition on 25 April, 1930, with Padre White.

The new National Anzac Centre honours the Anzacs of the First World War and is set within the stunning grounds of the Heritage Park, in Albany on the South Coast of Western Australia. 

The National Anzac Centre offers visitors an intensely personal connection with the Anzacs through interactive and multimedia displays together with unique artefacts; rare images and film; and audio commentary.

Events of the First World War are told through the stories of the Anzacs themselves and visitors can assume the identity of one of 32 Anzac related characters, and follow their personal experience of the Great War: from recruitment, through training and embarkation, ship-board life on the convoys, on to the conflicts at Gallipoli, the Middle East and the Western Front, and post-war ... for those who returned.

Visit Albany Heritage Park: one of Australia’s most significant cultural and historical precincts. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Mount Adelaide and Mount Clarence, the Park includes:

  • National Anzac Centre
  • Princess Royal Fortress
  • Desert Mounted Corps Memorial (one of eight Nationally Significant Military Memorials in the country)
  • Padre White Lookout
  • Convoy Walk and Lookout
  • Avenue of Honour
  • Ataturk Memorial
  • A range of natural and recreational assets, including walk trails and mountain bike tracks

Whaling History

Whaling was a huge industry of the town for many years but in 1978 Albany's whaling station ceased its operations. 

Step back in time and take a journey through Whale World, the site of the last operating whaling station in Australia.

Confronting, emotional and thought provoking, it is also wonderful to see how far we have progressed, that the whales are back and we are able to enjoy them in their territory in the Albany Region.  The whale season is from June to October and you can see these magnificent Humpback and Southern Right whales cruising along our coastline with their calves as they head off to the cooler Antarctic waters.

Lighthouses.  

Breaksea Island, 

In October 2009, federal officials announced a grant of $1.3 million for restoration of the light station and its development for tourism. By the end of 2011, the lighthouse and its keeper's houses had been restored to their historic appearance, but it appeared that $350,000 to $500,000 more would be needed to refit the buildings for tourists.  Breaksea Island , is a protected nature reserve.  This lighthouse is the setting for Diane Wolfers book 'The Lighthouse Girl'   Breaksea Island is now accessible via helicopter tours.

King Point

The Albany City Council appropriated $20,000 to stabilize the ruins in 2001. Located off Marine Drive on the north side of the narrow entrance to Princess Royal Harbour, the inner harbour of Albany, from King George Sound. Accessible by a short walk from a nearby road

Cave Point

Located on the point in Torndirrup National Park about 15 km (9 mi) south of Albany. The lighthouse is accessible by a short hike from the natural bridge.

QUARANUP

Camp Quaranup was established as a Quarantine Station in 1875. It was built after representatives of the State Government complained about being quarantined on Rabbit Island with the most basic of living conditions.