|Greens Pool near Denmark Western Australia panorama.|
|The Gap and Natural Bridge Albany.|
Exactly 100 years ago, some 30,000 ANZAC troops set sail from King George Sound near Albany in the southwest of the state. For many, this was the last time they would see their homeland as many died on the battlefields of Europe. Their brave deeds have not been forgotten with an estimated 70,000 visitors including the Australian Prime Minister visiting the town and the remembrance ceremony. The ANZAC tradition lives on in the way many contemporary Australians view life today. Prime Minister Tony Abbott will unveil the $A10 million Anzac Centre at the Albany Heritage Park on the summit of Mount Clarence overlooking the ocean just out of the town centre.
The new centre adjoins the ANZAC Desert Mounted Corps Memorial which was relocated to Albany from where it was originally erected in Egypt. The decision was made to move it after it was damaged and it now serves as a reminder of the link between Albany and the ANZACs. It was here in 1914 that 38 Australian and New Zealand ships that transported the troops and their horses to Gallipoli in Turkey departed for Australia’s entry into World War 1.
Whales, Wine and Wilderness
|ANZAC Memorial Albany.|
Discovery Bay was once home to Australia’s last whaling station called Cheynes Beach Whaling Station that now operates as Whale World (www. discoverybay.com.au). Visitors come here to see the well-preserved whaling station and to learn all about the industry and the species that were once hunted. During the whale season, it’s possible to see whales breaching the surface of the Southern Ocean. The centre’s interactive displays and adjoining native Australian botanic gardens (the area has 3,000 flowering wildflowers) and fauna enclosures ensure that there is enough here to entertain visitors for at least half a day.
Torndirrup National Park is home to the Gap Natural Bridge. Albany’s coastal landscape is dominated by the orange-coloured granite rocks with the national park being the best place to admire the natural beauty of the coastline. Weathering processes have sculptured these rocks into a dramatic natural arch with waves crashing and spraying skyward in the form of blowhole.
|Former whaling boat Albany.|
Albany Farmers Market is conducted every Saturday morning from 8am to noon in Collie Street Albany and the bargains and fresh produce will impress all visitors. Another special treat awaits at the Great Southern Distilling Company (www.distillery.com.au) which makes a variety of spirits including Limeburners single malt whiskies. Whisky production throughout Australia has made whisky connoisseurs sit up and pay attention especially with labels such as Tiger Snake Sour Mash Whiskey. Head north out of town to Mt Barker and the Porongurup region to discover some of Australia’s finest Riesling and Pinot Noir wines.
On another way out of town, heading westerly towards Walpole, it is worth deviating off the road to
Greens Pool to take in the dramatic southern coastline with its deserted beaches and the crisp turquoise waters of the Southern Ocean. Reflect upon the fact that this is quite possibly the end of known civilisation with the next stop being the vast Antarctic wilderness. Suck in the fresh air and rejoice in the best that the southwest of Western Australia has to offer.
|Sperm Whale skeleton Whale World Albany.|
Getting There and About
The good news for Sabahans is that Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) now flies direct between Kota Kinabalu and Perth the Western Australian capital. Using its state of the art Boeing 737-800 aircraft passengers enjoy five hours of fine food, beverages and entertainment. Think big when it comes to this part of Australia (Western Australia is way bigger than the whole of Sabah) and getting around, especially down to Albany and the southwest, requires a rental car. Hire a Budget car (www.budget.com) from Perth International Airport and take a leisurely five-hour drive to Albany. Drive the circle route from Perth to Albany and along the coast to Denmark and then inland to Pemberton and Margaret River before heading back to Perth via Busselton, Bunbury and Mandurah for an enjoyable week-long holiday.
Where to Stay
|Plaque Albany where ANZAC troops departed for WW1.|
Food and wine lovers will enjoy dining at Lime 303 in the Dog Rock Motel and in sampling a superb wine list and creative dishes such as nori and coconut battered prawns with wakami salad and ponzu dipping sauce. Order a delicious marron (freshwater crayfish) platter at the Old Marron Farm (www.albanymarronfarm.com.au).
Contacts Tourism Western Australia (www.westernaustralia.com).
Text and photos by David Bowden