If you find yourself in the Southwest region of Western Australia, a trip to Albany is well worth the 418km from Perth. Albany is the oldest colonial settlement in WA, predating Fremantle and Perth, so it is steeped in history. We have put together this two day Albany itinerary based on the activities we did during our visit, to help you get the most from yours.
Before you head off, grab a copy of Lonely Planet’s West Coast Australia travel guide. We used ours literally every time we left the house for the day, and it had super handy maps, itineraries, accommodation tips, and we also found some awesome bars and restaurants through it. It’s definitely worth the menial cost on Amazon!
Albany Itinerary: Day 1
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
If you drive down from the north, take the time to visit the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk near Denmark. It’s a great way to break up the drive and stretch your legs along the 600m walk up in the canopy of huge indigenous Tingle trees. We spent about two hours here in total, taking in the views from the top and also from the forest floor on the wilderness trail.
It cost us $21 per adult. The car park is small so in summer they open up a secondary car park which is a bit of a walk from the entrance. It’s largely accessible to wheelchair users and those with children in pushchairs, as the walkway has ramps instead of steps. There is no on-site cafe or teashop though so do what we did and bring a packed lunch! We used a foldable insulated lunch box, as it didn’t take up much space when it was empty in our backpacks!
Peace Park and Due South
We arrived in Albany at about 4 pm, settled into our hostel and then headed to the waterfront. We stayed at 1849 Backpackers and paid for a double room (sharing a bathroom). They also have shared dorms. The hostel was really friendly, offering free wifi plus pancakes for breakfast, and was located in a good central spot with off road parking.
We managed to catch the sunset from the Anzac Peace Park on the Princess Royal Harbour. Although Albany has a population of 33,000 people, it is surprisingly calm and we only came upon a handful of dog walkers during our stroll.
We called in at Due South on the harbour arm for a drink. The bar here is constructed from an old shipping container, a cool nod towards the city’s industrial roots, and panoramic windows let us watch the last of the sunset in the warmth. They do a daily cocktail deal which we loved too! Here, we planned the next day of our Albany itinerary before heading out for a bite to eat.
Stirling Terrace and Six Degrees
We crossed back over the footbridge into the city and found Six Degrees, a bar/restaurant/hotel nestled on the gorgeous Stirling Terrace. For some reason, Australia seems to be really into shared plates (tapas-style dishes), which can be a pricey way to eat out. Dishes cost between $7-$25 and they recommend you have 2-3 per person. We chose four from the menu, plus some more drinks.
Six Degrees holds live entertainment on weekends, but as we were there on a Monday night we missed out. It was far from quiet though, and as it isn’t very big it had a pleasantly busy atmosphere.
The Gap and Natural Bridge
After a filling breakfast of (free) pancakes and coffee at the hostel, we set off nice and early on the second day of our Albany itinerary.
Located in the Torndirrup National Park, the Gap and Natural Bridge both hold special significance to the local Aboriginal people. They tell a story of two fighting brothers, who went to opposite sides of the Gap to settle their argument. One had a spear, and the other had a boomerang. Both fell into the water and the brother who was hit with the spear turned into a stingray. The brother who was hit with the boomerang became a shark. It cost us $11 for the car park and it was well worth going earlier in the day.
There are signs everywhere telling you to stay on the pathways, and for good reason. A week before our visit a 20-year-old tourist fell off the rocks whilst taking photos and sadly died. It was incredibly windy when we were there and the rocks are slippery from the constantly crashing waves below. Admire behind the safety of the railings!
As we were driving out of the car park, we saw a sign to ‘The Blowholes’. This wasn’t in our trusty guidebook, but as it was only 2kms up the road we set off in the direction of the road sign.
By taking an 800m pathway down the side of the cliffs, we ended up at a flatter rock expanse and soon heard a huge whooshing sound. ‘Blowholes’ are when the tide pushes the waves into fissures in the rock. The immense pressure makes a sound that literally sounds like a dragon breathing fire. On choppier days the water can spray up out of the gaps. There are no railings here and the rocks can get slippery so be mindful if you do visit.
It gave us brilliant views of Cable Beach and the Lighthouse too, so is well worth the detour (and all the steps back up)!
The Old Gaol
Being the true crime fanatic that she is, Kez was not going to let our Albany itinerary miss the gaol out. Costing a mere $5 each (cash only, they don’t take card), it was one of the highlights of our trip.
Built in 1852, the prison is now a fully restored museum. It once held the only legal hanging of a convict in Albany. They were so unprepared for this that the hangman had to be another convict. You can do night tours too, but even a daytime visit was enough to creep us out. Supposedly the women’s block is haunted by the ghost of a woman who was held there with her baby. Knocking and wailing sounds have been heard, and a few women visitors have had their hair tugged sharply. We both felt very uncomfortable in this part of the gaol, and weren’t surprised to hear these stories!
We heard another super sad local story, involving an illiterate man who was sent out on a convict ship. Unable to write home to tell his wife where he was, she spent 30 years looking for him and eventually managed to track him down. As she stood on the waterside waiting for his fishing boat to come back in, he saw her and waved excitedly, capsizing his boat. He never resurfaced, and heartbroken, the lady collapsed and died. People have reported seeing a Grey Lady looking sadly out over the water along the harbour. Unfortunately, we saw no such sightings.
Two mountains hem in Albany’s central business district – Mount Melville to the west and Mount Clarence to the east. We set off towards Mount Clarence and soon found a marked trail to the summit. There is a road which runs up to the top, but the trail goes off into the trees. Don’t do what Sam did and wear flip flops.
At the summit is the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, dedicated to Anzac mounted soldiers who fought in the First World War. With breathtaking views out over King George Sound it is the last sight of Australia that many of the soldiers ever had. We followed a different trail down the other side of the mountain towards the church. This gave us amazing views over towards the Stirling Range mountains.
Where To Stay in Albany
There is a surprising amount of options available to you here, so we’ve selected a range of best Albany hotels on Booking.com for you right here!
Park Farm Retreat – this holiday home offers a private beach area and a tennis court. The holiday home is 1.9 miles from Albany Entertainment Centre. Four bedrooms with aircon, wifi, and parking.
Dolphin Lodge – located on the popular Middleton Beach, this self-catered apartment has a private balcony and is five minutes away from the best of Albany.
Pelicans – these air-conditioned apartments are within walking distance to the beach, bars, and amenities of Albany.
Ibis Styles Albany – if you’d rather stay in a hotel, check out the Ibis Styles. With an onsite restaurant and family suites, it would suit families well.
Six Degrees – this was mentioned earlier on in the blog post for a restaurant recommendation in Albany, but it’s also a boutique hotel. They offer free parking and free wifi and the location is great.
Best Western The Clarence on Melville – a popular budget-friendly option, Albany’s Best Western is 3 minutes from the town centre and has an onsite restaurant.
We hope you found this Albany itinerary and travel guide useful! Let us know in the comments.
For more from our time in Western Australia, why not check out this blog post?