Last Updated on September 28, 2020 by worldoftravelswithkids
Historically rich, Albany is one of Western Australia’s bigger cities. As such it is a practical place to base yourself for a few days or a week exploring. We love the South Coast of Western Australia that stretches from Walpole in the West to Albany the East.
Albany is not well known as a Western Australian tourism destination. In our opinion, it flies under the radar because it’s a regional center and not so tourism-oriented! So, thanks for joining us in discovering one of Western Australia’s best-kept tourism secrets and discovering the best things to do in Albany Western Australia. Oh, and if you are interested in Little Beach Albany, which is very insta-popular, we cover it too!
If you are considering Western Australia with kids, then you can’t go past Albany as an excellent family travel spot. It makes a great and affordable base for a 5-7 day itinerary.
Albany WA is famous as the place that the Australian soldiers last sighted their country before heading off to the fateful battleground of World War 1, and the ANZAC battles. It is also known as the place the first dawn service was held on ANZAC day which holds much significance for many Australians.
In addition to this rich history, Albany Western Australia also has a wealth of pristine beaches, adventure in the nearby Porongorups, and a burgeoning food and wine scene.
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Albany WA’s History
There is evidence of indigenous settlement of the Albany region for over 18,000 years. The name of the area in the Nyungar language of the local indigenous Menang people is Kinjarling, which can be interpreted as “place of plenty” or “place of rain.
Albany has a historical feel about it, and there is a good reason as it is Western Australia’s European settlement. It first came to note when George Vancouver arrived in 1791, charting and naming the sound of King George Sound. Fun note, this is the explorer and navigator who also charted much of Canada’s shores, and who Vancouver Canada is named for!
The first settlement in Western Australia in 1826 by the British was led by Major Edmund Lockyer. They arrived abroad the Brig Amity (and guess what, you can visit the replica of the Brig Amity when you visit Albany)! The settlement was originally named Frederick Town, though renamed Albany in 1832 after the Duke of York and Albany.
Albany was a prominent city in Western Australia throughout the 19th Century. It was the colony’s only deepwater port. It is currently Western Australia’s 5th biggest city.
Things To Do In Albany Western Australia
There are a LOT of things to do in Albany WA! We think that you should plan to spend at least 5-7 days if you want to see everything.
We have divided up the activities into different areas, simply Albany historical town, then the Torndirrup National Park area, and then the East, North, and West of Albany. If you were going to spend 5 days in Albany you would be very busy! In fact, if you wanted to have some long lunches at one of the great Southern wineries, or perhaps enjoy a gong meditation at Mount Romance, then you should plan to do spend at least 7 days.
National Anzac Centre Albany
Albany was chosen as the site as the National ANZAC Centre. The centre was developed for the centenary of the departure of the troops to Europe in 1914. Albany being historically significant as the last place the diggers saw Australian soil. There is a lot to see around the National ANZAC Centre. If you want to see everything you could spend at least half a day.
The centerpiece is the 2016 opened National ANZAC Centre that combines traditional museum display and exhibition techniques with highly interactive, multi-media content. In short, each visitor assumes the identity of an ANZAC and then experiences the war through interactive visual and audio displays. The idea is to humanize the story rather than getting into the pros and cons of war.
Outside the center, there is a range of other war paraphernalia. The National Anzac Centre is usually on a list of what do to in Albany Western Australia and worth a visit. Another consideration is visiting the centre would be the top of things to do in Albany WA in the winter.
For prices, please visit the National ANZAC Centre website.
** We have not yet visited the Albany ANZAC Centre. I’ve talked to a few people and even though they said it’s very well done they are hesitant whether it is the right place for young kids!
Where To Eat At The National Anzac Centre
If you are looking to taste some delicious great southern produce then the Garrison Restaurant gets good reviews and has stunning views over King George Sound. The Garrison menu features wines from the local Great Southern wineries. In addition, it has a seasonal menu that highlights local organic fruit and vegetables.
The Brig Amity & WA Museum
My family all love visiting the replica of the Brig Amity! By the way, a Brig is a special type of boat! This is a full-scale copy of the ship Amity that brought the first European settlers to Albany in 1826. Apparently, they landed very close to the site of where the Amity sits today.
The replica of the Amity was built in 1975 (nearly 50 years ago). Climbing all-round the ship gives you an idea of how people used to travel. It is hard to imagine 50 other people on board and what it would be like in rough seas.
The kids love climbing around the ship and we all imagined what it would be like at sea for weeks at a time. The 5-year-old was ok with the ladders, we just took it easy.
The Brig Amity is part of the WA Museum –Albany (or the Museum of the Great Southern), which has a range of interesting exhibits.
The old fashioned Residency building is also interesting and has some beautiful galleries which share the stories from Minang Noongar Boodja (Country), a place rich in culture, Aboriginal, and Wadjella (non-Aboriginal) histories. Particularly interesting is the story of Mokare, a young Noongar warrior, as well as the stories of the early settlers and convicts.
Also part of the Museum Of The Great Southern is the Discovery Centre hosts a range of interactive, engaging, and hands-on programs that are always changing, and fun! We have been a few times with different exhibits for the kids.
Albany Convicts Gaol And Museum
Right next door to the museum and Brig Amity is the Albany Gaol in Western Australia. It is an old fashioned style museum and manned by volunteers. The gaol cells are pretty spooky, and the museum captures conditions for prisoners in colonial times.
The Old Farm Strawberry Hill
As we said, Albany is full of historical gems, and another we have enjoyed is the Old Farm Strawberry Hill which is the oldest farm in Western Australia.
The Old Farm Strawberry Hill was established in 1827, immediately after the first European settlers arrived on the Brig Amity on Christmas Day 1826. It was the town’s government farm before being purchased by a private owner. The private owner built the current 2 story stone house in 1836, making it one of the oldest buildings in Western Australia.
Just six acres of the original farm remain, and the gorgeous gardens give you a sense of how important cultivation was in a new colony. Some of the original fruit trees are still alive! Unfortunately, the old farmhouse was closed the day we visited. However, we peered through the windows and it looked like a lovely insight into the colonial way of life.
Visit Dog Rock
When I think of Albany WA attractions I think of Dog Rock. That’s right when I was a kid the most famous place to visit in Albany was Dog Rock. That might be a kid’s perspective as I am sure there were other things to do and see! The huge tip of a large underground boulder, sticking up from the surface bears an uncanny resemblance to a dog’s head (if you can’t see it, imagine a Labrador sniffing the air). Now, with a black and white collar pained around the base, much-loved Dog Rock is a popular place to get a photo for locals.
Whale Watching From Albany
One of the BEST things to do in Albany WA in winter is whale-watching. The whale watching southern migration season in Albany begins in late May every year and generally continues until early October. Each year is slightly different depending on the Humpback Whales. However, in general, from May onwards you can see Humpback Whales arrive in King George Sound on their way to the warmer waters of the Kimberly’s to calve.
Get this – Southern Right Whales come into the sound to calve in colder waters due to an increased blubber layer and their anatomy is more designed to shorter migration routes. They are twice the size in weight of a Humpback and one of the most inquisitive of Cetaceans. You will be delighted with their behaviors including gorgeous mother & calf interactions. They begin to leave King George Sound to migrate south in October.
Lovely Middleton Beach is one of our favorite beaches in Albany WA. Just 5 minutes’ drive from the center of Albany town, it has white sands, turquoise waters, and some distinctive pine trees. As we have kids, we head to Middleton Beach for the awesome kid’s playground. We have explained in more detail in our post Best Playgrounds in Albany Western Australia. It is great to have a coffee and meal at the Three Anchors while our kids play!
In the summertime, Middleton Beach offers white sands and protected swimming, while in winter you can walk along the beach or do the Ellen Cove Boardwalk trail. This trail starts at the back of the Three Anchors restaurant and winds upwards with ridiculously good views out across Middleton Beach. As you head around the boardwalk you get views over Princess Royal Harbour and then to Albany town itself. The entire trail is about 6km and is not a loop. So in total, it is 12km if you did the whole thing. Not only are there AMAZING views along the way, but there is historical signage on all the lookouts, memorials to past important people and in season, you can see whales from the walk.
This is definitely a fantastic FREE things to do in Albany Western Australia and you should do part of it while visiting Albany.
You can walk from Middleton Beach to Emu Point along a paved dual-use trail which is perfect for kiddos learning to ride their bike.
Otherwise, Emu Point is a wonderful beach for a swim (there is an enclosed swimming area). It also has lots of picnic tables spotted around. There is a decent playground, more suited to little kids than older ones, but they are happy enough for a while without the ‘bangs and whistles’ of the newer playgrounds.
We’ve always loved the cozy atmosphere and delicious food at Emu Point Café. It’s got a great vibe and when the kids are finished eating they can let off steam running on the grass.
Albany Silos & Street Art
I’ve snapped a few pictures of Albany’s street art during our visits, including a few murals on York Street and, my personal favorite, orchids on a telephone box down near the footy oval! However, the most famous piece of art is the CBH Group Albany Silos that are also part of the Australia Silo Art Trail Collection. The Silo was inspired by the discovery of the Ruby Sea dragon which is the third species of sea dragon discovered in the world! It certainly looks pretty cool up there on the Silo!
If you drop into the Albany Visitor Centre, ask for the Public Art Trail Map.
We love Albany Playgrounds so much that we wrote a whole post about it! If you are traveling to Albany Western Australia with kids then you are certainly going to be looking for the kids to burn off some steam in one of the Albany playgrounds. Take a look at our complete post and information in Best Playgrounds In Albany Western Australia.
Torndirrup National Park & Frenchman’s Bay Direction
If you head out of Albany in the direction of Frenchman’s Bay you are in for a big treat! In this rugged headland, just a short distance out of Albany are three major Albany Attractions: Gap and Natural Bridge, the Albany Windfarm, and Discovery Bay (formerly the Albany Whaling Station).
Gap & Natural Bridge, Torndirrup National Park
The Gap at Torndirrup National Park is probably Albany’s most iconic tourist destination. The same folks that built the Granite Skywalk in the Porongorups and the Tree Top Walk at Walpole have built another megastructure that makes you go WOW! Honestly, as if the Gap didn’t make you go wow already – somehow the powerful Southern Ocean has sculpted a huge gap into the rocks, and the waves rush in and out.
The Gap lookout is bolted directly into the rocks, and the bottom of the platform is see-through! The new platform at the Gap means that you can stand directly over the crashing, swirling waves. I won’t lie – I got jelly legs! You are standing 25 meters over a sheer drop and the ocean is scary!
The Natural Bridge is very close to the Gap in Torndirrup National Park. In fact, you just need to turn left and a few meters down the path you will see the Natural Bridge. Again, the pounding Southern Ocean has created an incredible rock formation through thousands of years of wearing away at the granite rock.
Natural Bridge, at The Gap
Walk a few meters along the dedicated path and you’ll find yourself at the Natural Bridge. Another rock formation caused by the gradual wearing away of the granite rock by the Great Southern Ocean. This ‘bridge’ is a reminder of how powerful the ocean is, and when you’re here you’ll understand just how rough the sea can be.
Fees apply in Torndirrup National Park – $15 per car, which will give you access to any other national parks on the same day. If you are visiting several national parks during your trip it makes sense to buy a Holiday Pass. For example, 4 weeks cost $60, or 14 days $40. Alternatively, if you are a Western Australia, an Annual All parks pass is $120 for 12 months. That is really an excellent value for money!
The Gap and Natural Bridge is a popular place to fly drones (I don’t know why there are crazy winds) but the pictures from above are pretty spectacular! Remember the Drone policy on Western Australian National parkland which you can read here.
The Blow Holes
Also in Torndirrup National Park are the Blow Holes, located about 5-8 minutes’ drive away from the Gap and Natural Bridge. The Blowholes are created when powerful waves hit the rocks, and water is pushed forcefully through a crack in the granite blows air and spray. The noise is quite loud.
The carpark is a reasonable walk to the Blowholes, at least a few hundred meters down a flight of stairs and then a wide sealed pathway. If the conditions are right you will be able to see and hear the Blowholes from a distance.
Apparently, there are also signs when the Blowholes are ‘blowing’ but we didn’t see one.
Hikes In Torndirrup National Park
We are keen to do some more long-distance hiking in Albany Western Australia when we next visit. The image that you see on Instagram at the moment is the Bald Head Hike which is quite a difficult 12 km hike. Flinders Peninsula providing stunning views of the Southern Ocean and King George Sound. The photos always look stunning.
As we are traveling with kids, we are always looking for something easier/ shorter. On our list are:
Point Possession Heritage Trails
About 6km long, this trail got one rave review on the internet, which said it was stunning and completed untouristed (and also easy). This trail walks from Albany’s old Quarantine Station to Point Possession. Point Possession is a long, narrow isthmus with a beach on either side, leading to a low, rounded granite hill at the end which offers great views of the Shipping Channel, King George Sound and, Princess Royal Harbour.
Peak Head Track, Torndirrup National Park
This track is about 4.8km and takes between 1 and 3 hours.
Discovery Bay Albany (Formerly) Whale World Albany
Also known as Albany’s Historic Whaling Station, Whale World Albany has been rebranded as Albany’s Discovery Bay. It includes the Whaling Station, the Australian Wildlife Park, and the Regional Flower Garden. You can easily spend half a day here and it’s both an enjoyable and interesting outing.
The first thing you notice is the huge boat, the Cheynes IV which was towed to its present position after the whaling industry was shut down in 1978. The history of whaling is interesting and dramatic, but it is not pleasant and even grisly. There are some confronting footage and images around the site. I shielded my kids of the worst of it, while also choosing to explain why it is such a great thing that whaling ended.
Your kids might see the playground, and there is also a café and souvenir shop. Further up the hill – you can drive or walk – are an interesting collection of wildflowers and also an animal farm which my kids loved. We got to pet a number of animals, and even feed a baby joey! Entry fees are found here.
Albany Wind Farm
We often venture out into nature to celebrate the power of nature, but the Albany Wind Farm celebrates both nature and how we are working with nature in a harmonious way. I’ve taken my kids to the Albany Wind Farm a couple of times and each time we come home feeling more inspired to work in sustainable ways.
The relatively simple information boards the base of one of the wind turbines provide an easily understood lesson about wind power and how this windfarm supports the energy needs of the local area. An Albany WA point of interest is that Albany is actually 80% powered by these awe-inspiring windmills.
The wind turbines are elegant and graceful as they tower above the landscape. There is an informative walk to the lookout and other walking tracks around the park. The cliff and ocean scenery is spectacular with huge sweeping views of the coast. In our opinion, one of the best free things to do Albany WA.
East of Albany
Two Peoples Bay Albany- Especially Little Beach
If you are looking for things to do Albany WA, you will usually see Little Beach Albany on the list. With good reason, it is stunning and now seen ALL the time on Instagram! Even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, do head to Little Beach for a walk or a swim in summer. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on the south coast.
But Two People’s Bay has a more ecological reason to visit as well. The Two People’s Bay Reserve is home to the endangered Gilberts Potoroo and the Noisy Scrub bird, both species were considered extinct until rediscovered at Two People’s.
Located a gorgeous 35km drive East of Albany there is an interesting visitor center that will give you great information about what you might see or hear! Stand or sit quietly on the trail and you may hear the territorial song of a male noisy scrub-bird, especially during their mating season (May to September).
Note: Over summer Two People’s Bay Visitor Centre is usually open from 10 am to 4 pm. During other months the center has varied hours.
For those who are interested to do some walking, there is an interesting Heritage Trail that can be adapted to suit your schedule. There are four parts of the Heritage Trail ranging from an easy walk of 30 minutes return to the full walk from Little Beach and back which takes approximately 4 hours. Alternatively, you can also drive directly to Little Beach and walk back along the trail towards the visitor’s center and explore a part of the trail that way.
Standard park entry fees apply. Note our suggestions above in the Torndirrup National Park section. If you are visiting several national parks during your trip it makes sense to buy a Holiday Pass.
Old Marron Farm & Little Nippers Petting Zoo Albany
The Old Marron Farm makes a great stop traveling to or from Two People’s Bay as it is on the main Two People’s Bay Road and located about 20 minutes from the Visitor Centre.
At Nippers Café you can taste Western Australian Marron, yabbies, or smoked trout or a hearty fresh menu featuring farm-fresh local produce. If you are looking for a coffee break, they serve home-made cakes and Naked Bean Coffee. Vegetarian and non-seafood tastes are also on the menu, so you don’t need to worry if you are like me and don’t eat seafood!
The Old Marron Farm is a great stop for the kids – or really any animal lover or family looking for a fun day out! They have a large undercover aviary where you can hand feed the stunning native and exotic parrots. You can also meet all the other animals they have on the farm including rabbits, guinea pigs, and more!
North Of Albany
The Porongorups (Porongorup National Park)
Located less than an hour’s drive North from Albany city, the Porongorups is another of the things to do in Albany WA. This mountain range includes some awesome bush walks and a wonderful diversity of plant life.
There is so much to do around the Porongorups you could definitely spend a whole day including the challenging but spectacular walk to the Castle Rock Granite Skywalk. We have covered in detail in our post Hike To Granite Skywalk Castle Rock Western Australia. Note, as this is quite a hot walk, in summer you should plan to leave early in the morning or later in the day.
Mount Romance – The Sandalwood Factory
Honestly, who can resist a place named Mt Romance? Now renamed The Sandalwood Factory, I knew nothing about this place until my last visit to Albany. Just 10 minutes outside Albany on Albany Highway, the huge facility is also the world’s largest Sandalwood oil distillery.
We learned a lot about this unique plant and oil, with a tour of the Sandalwood oil industry; “From Soil to Oil”. Certainly, this then inspired me to purchase some of their extensive range of Sandalwood beauty and skincare products. I didn’t feel pressured to buy, but the presentation and displays do make you want to try Sandalwood products out!
There is also a Sandalwood Café, on-site with a range of tasty treats & hearty lunches – or just a coffee if you are looking for a boost before heading out further on your discovery of Albany WA attractions!
However, what appealed to me most is something that I haven’t tried yet. I can’t wait to get back to the South Coast to try the Gong Sessions in the cone meditation space. During the 1-hour session, you listen to the vibrational harmonic tones of the Gong, with the calming aroma of sandalwood oil in a sixteen-sided cone featuring celestial skies. Reviews say that your body is massaged by the Gong’s resonance, helping to release old tensions and stress and that many people leave relaxed and rejuvenated.
1-hour experience $23 / per person
Things To Do In Albany and Denmark / West of Albany
It is 54 kilometers between Albany and Denmark Western Australia, taking 45 minutes to drive if you follow the South Coast Hwy. If you have a full day planned in Denmark then you will want to get there early as there is so much to do and see – check out our full post The Best Things To Do In Denmark WA!
However, if you are thinking of going slowly and exploring, we recommend taking the Lower Denmark Road, which runs through some picturesque farmland and offers some beautiful views.
West Cape Howe National Park
West Cape Howe makes a lesser-known but stunning detour. Shelley Beach is easy to visit and offers fishing, beach walks, and what is described as the best campground in Western Australia. There are no facilities but it is a pretty amazing spot.
Shelley Beach Lookout is where hang gliders of Albany take off and it offers awesome views. We bought our mum a tandem paraglide for her 70th birthday and had an awesome day watching her float around on the thermals. So if you are into thrilling adventures, definitely look up Shelley Beach Paraglide.
There is a good amount of affordable accommodation in Albany Western Australia. As it also is a regional center it has several caravan parks, motels, as well as a range of more boutique-style accommodation. The good news is that there is often good availability and there should be something in your price range. Check out our full post covering the best of Albany WA Accommodation.
Things To Do In Albany Western Australia – The Verdict
We really think that there are so many things to do in Albany WA and it is under-rated as a brilliant base for exploring the amazing south coast of Western Australia. It is perfectly sited so that you can explore North, East, and West in comfortable day trips while also spending a day or two in the historical city itself. Without a doubt, there are so many things to do in Albany Western Australia and you should plan to spend a week or more!
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