There are plenty of things to do in Albany, WA, or Kinjarling, as the traditional landowners knew it. Albany is a popular destination for Western Australians during school holidays and long weekends as it is a safe, peaceful town with stunning natural beauty. This historic town is full of history, delicious food, stunning beaches with a range of fabulous accommodation to suit everyone.
Being locals to WA, we have visited Albany numerous times and have a list of our favourite things to do there.
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Things To Do in Albany WA
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Torndirrup National Park | Torgadirrup
If I could choose only one place to visit in Albany, Torndirrup National Park would be it.
You might see the spelling as Torgadirrup; this is the name given by the local Aboriginal community, who are the traditional custodians of this country. The Mirnang people have a Dreamtime story that shows how important the area is to them. Two brothers argued over a woman, so the elders sent them to The Gap. One brother was good with the boomerang, while the other was good with a spear. They stood on either side of The Gap and threw their weapons, striking each other, causing both to fall into the water. The brother hit by the boomerang turned into a shark (the fin is the boomerang), and the other brother turned into a stingray.
Torndirrup National Park shows off the rugged Albany coast so well. It has to be the best outdoor activity in the area, and there’s a lot of high competition. The area has sweeping views over the Southern Ocean, which stretches south to Antarctica.
Sitting on the Torndirrup Peninsula, it is only a 15-minute drive south from Albany Town Centre and accessed along Frenchmans Bay Road.
If you don’t have a vehicle or you would prefer to have the knowledge of a guide with you, either The Gap & Natural Wonders Guided Tour by Moss Vale Cruise & Travel or The Gap and Natural Wonders by Busy Blue Bus Tours both visit Torndirrup National Park.
Entrance fees do apply for this park. All the information can be found on the Parks and Wildlife site. If you plan to visit a few National Parks, we buy an annual pass through the RAC WA as members get 50% off.
Torndirrup National Park is known for its spectacular beaches, breathtaking hikes, and unique wave-carved rock formations. The Torndirrup National Park Map is an excellent way to get your bearings and plan your route.
Spring to early summer is a spectacular time to visit when the wildflowers blanket the ground, but summer is great for the beaches.
The Gap and Natural Bridge
The Gap and Natural Bridge are the most popular attractions in Torndirrup National Park. Therefore, I would suggest doing them first before hoards of people arrive as it’s a better experience when it’s quieter.
The Gap has a 24-metre drop where the ocean has carved out a rugged granite channel. The noise of the sea here is incredible, and it’s impressive to watch.
The rocks are granodiorite and gneiss, which formed many kilometres below the surface under extreme temperatures and pressures due to the collision between Antarctica and Australia. The collision caused the Earth’s crust to buckle and a large mountain belt to form.
Just along the sealed path is the Natural Bridge. The mighty Great Southern Ocean has shaped this rock formation. It’s astounding to see the strength of the waves crash into the granite boulders and rush under the bridge.
Make sure to stick to the path and do not try climbing onto rocks. This coastline is known for king waves, and the ocean is treacherous. There have been six deaths and five serious incidents here since 1973.
The Whaling Station
The Whaling station is an intact whale processing factory and whale chasing ship – fully restored. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to visit, but many people have said it is fascinating.
Stony Hill is a 500m circular walk that provides 360-degree views of Torndirrup National Park. From here, you can see Peak Head and the Great Southern Ocean facing directly south. Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound can be seen north.
A giant boulder was incredibly lifted onto Cable Beach by the force of the waves. It is quite hard getting down to the beach from the car park as from the staircase rocky boulders continue down onto the beach. Swimming is not recommended at Cable Beach due to the strong currents.
Jimmy Newells Harbour
Jimmy Newells Harbour has a lookout that provides breathtaking views of the natural inlet that lies 95m below. The ocean has dug a channel 120m deep, 400m long, and 150m wide. The views and colours are astonishing and well worth the short 100m walk along the paved path.
The harbour is named after Jimmy Newell, a convict brought to Albany in 1826 on the Brig Amity by Major Lockyer. Newell was part of Lockyer’s expedition to establish a settlement in King George Sound and arrived on Christmas Day. After serving his time, Newell’s family joined him from Tasmania, and they remained in the area. One day Jimmy was out fishing and got caught in an unexpected storm and managed to shelter in the harbour. Records show that he died in Albany in 1855.
You can see Salmon Holes from the lookout. However, if you want to access the beach, a winding stairway leads down from the lookout.
It is named after the Australian Salmon that frequent these waters in the annual salmon run. From July to January, Western Australian Salmon reside along the South Coast. Like their favourite food, Pilchards, they prefer the cold water and feed offshore in cold layers of water. Then in February, the salmon “run” west to the Indian Ocean to breed. The south-flowing tropical Leeuwin Current helps spread the salmon eggs along the entire southern coast of Australia.
Salmon Beach is one of the best beach fishing spots in the south-west region of Western Australia. However, it is now compulsory to wear a life jacket if you’re going onto or accessing the rocks at Salmon Holes. Tragically, 13 people have died since 1983 after being washed off the rocks here. More information, including licences and rules, can be found on the Fisheries website.
The blowholes are another popular attraction in Torndirrup National Park. A sign near the start of the trail advises whether the blowholes are likely to be ‘blowing’ when you visit. It didn’t look like they would be when we visited, but we decided to do the walk anyway. The trail is 1.6 km return along a paved path and then over granite rocks. Again, there are signs to indicate where the blowholes are but do not stand over as air, water, and loose debris blow through the holes at high pressure and cause injury if you are too close. Also, you should be aware that the sloping rock below the blowholes is extremely slippery when wet and is much steeper than it appears.
In my opinion, unless you know the blowholes will be blowing, I wouldn’t bother with the trail. The walk is downhill on the way and uphill return, and it seems a lot longer than the 800 m each way.
Misery Beach is the most spectacular beach in Albany, possibly even Western Australia. The sand is soft and squeaks when walked on. The water is a real turquoise blue that is stunning against the white sand. This sheltered bay is a great spot to have a swim or snorkel. Despite us visiting in the summer school holidays, the beach was surprisingly quiet. It’s an ideal place to relax and take in the beautiful views of King George Sound and its rugged coast. I’m not sure why it’s called Misery Beach, as it’s the complete opposite. It could date back to the whaling days when the whales’ blood would be washed up here. Pure misery!
Bald Head Walk Trail
Bald Head Walk Trail is a challenging 12.5km return trail providing incredible views of the Southern Ocean and King George Sound. Known as one of the best hikes in the South West, the trail climbs and descends along the narrow ridgeline of the Flinders Peninsula. This trail is for advanced hikers, and a high degree of fitness is required. Allow 6-8 hours to hike over Isthmus Hill to Flinders Peninsula and on to Limestone Head and Bald Head. The terrain is steep and challenging in sections. I wasn’t crazy enough to attempt it, but Dave ran part of it.
Frenchman Bay is located outside of Torndirrup National Park but still on the peninsula. It is another stunning bay with soft sand and clear water. There’s a boat ramp and a lovely BBQ grassed area with clean toilet facilities here too. If you are an advanced diver, The HMAS Perth is one of the best Wreck Dives in Australia and lies beneath the water here.
Albany Grasmere Wind Farm
The Albany Grasmere Wind Farm is just off Frenchman Bay Road and worth a look while in the area.
The 18 wind turbines produce clean, renewable energy equivalent to 80 percent of Albany’s annual electricity needs. It is free and open to the public every day.
If you are feeling energetic, the Bibbulmun Track runs through here. The day walk from the Albany Wind Farm to Mutton Bird car park is 13.5km one way, or 27 km return. This trail offers different options to experience astonishing coastal views, spectacular carpets of wildflowers, as well as the site of these spinning giants.
Please note that no dogs are allowed in Torndirrup National Park.
Middleton Beach & Ellen Cove
Middleton Beach is the closest beach to the centre of Albany. It’s popular with families as it has soft white sand and is suitable for swimming and snorkelling. The kids especially love the floating pontoon out in the ocean at Ellen Cove (the far southern end).
Middleton Beach is our choice when looking for accommodation in Albany.
Unfortunately, the Ellen Cove shark net had to be removed recently due to deterioration. However, the city of Albany is looking to replace it and have it installed by summer. Albany Surf Life Saving Club also patrol the beach in summer for that added security.
Along this part of Middleton Beach, there are toilets, showers, a playground, and a cafe. The grassed area is shaded by trees, so perfect for a picnic.
The Ellen Cove Boardwalk runs along the coast and provides stunning views over King George Sound and Middleton Beach. The 6km one-way trail goes from Ellen Cove and ends in Stirling Terrace Albany. It’s a dual path used by pedestrians and cyclists and hugs Mount Adelaide. If you are here between May and November, keep a lookout for whales that migrate through Albany. Talking of wildlife, if you hear rustling in the bush or see a black reptile up ahead, it is more than likely to be a King Skink (they are common around Albany). A more detailed review of this trail can be found on Life of Py.
Middleton Beach stretches 4.5km up to Emu Point in the north.
Emu Beach starts at the southern end of the wall, facing south. It’s a 400m sandy beach that is usually calm. However, beware of a strong current flowing in the deep channel outside the breakwaters.
Emu Point Beach is a sheltered beach located just inside the entrance to Oyster Harbour, on the northern side of Emu Point. It is ideal for children as it is calm and shallow with a pontoon. There’s also a shaded picnic area, playground, car park, and boat ramp. Emu Point Beach is a beautiful place to kayak and fish too.
Pelicans are usually around here, waiting for anglers to throw them some scraps. But, if you see only one, it will most likely be Percy, who always seems to hang around here.
Neither beaches have life-saving patrols, so be careful in the water.
Just up from Emu Point, Oyster Harbour is fed by two rivers; the King River and the Kalgan River. It’s a commercial fishing harbour along with oyster and mussel farms.
There are two bridges over Oyster Harbour estuary, one over the Kalgan River on Nanup Road and the other over King River on Lower King Road. Take this route to drive from Middleton Beach to Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.
There are boat cruises that depart from Emu Point. The Albany Wildlife and Scenic Cruise is a sheltered water cruise with no open sea, where you have the chance to see Pelicans, Eagles, Hawks, and an abundance of birdlife and Kangaroos in the wild up close and personal. The tour includes tea, coffee, and hot Damper with a full commentary. The glass-bottomed Kalgan Queen Scenic Cruises has a 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor by nearly 200 guests. You cruise the sheltered waters of Oyster Harbour and the ancient Kalgan River while listening to a commentary about the history and wildlife. You will get up close and personal to the wildlife while learning about what you are seeing. Click on the links to learn more and find out prices.
Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
Two People’s Bay is about 25km north-east of Albany.
It is known for its beautiful beaches and the rediscovery of the presumed extinct noisy scrub-bird in 1962.
The Visitor’s Centre, before you reach the beaches, is packed with information on the area. There are toilets and picnic tables there, and this is where you access the walking trails.
Entrance fees do apply as per Torndirrup National Park.
Most people head straight to Little Beach and is the most photographed beach in this region. The view as you walk down to it is stunning. The turquoise ocean gleams against the white sand, and the granite boulders stand out in contrast. There are fantastic views towards Mt Manypeaks and Waychinicup National Park to the north too.
It’s a lovely walk along the beach, and at the far end of the beach, stairs lead up to a path. If you follow this, it leads to Waterfall Beach. However, we found that it was hard to climb down the rocks onto the beach with children. Also, the waterfall wasn’t running due to it being summer, so we just sat on the rocks and admired the beach from above.
King waves frequently hit Little Beach, which are forceful and deceptive. The water is deep, close to shore, and this beach is not patrolled. Also, in the height of summer, the flies are awful. I actually couldn’t stand it that long here, despite it being wonderful. Bring some insect repellent with you as that may help.
The Heritage Trail is a 4.6km class 4 (moderately difficult) walk. It starts at the Visitor Centre, winding through the peppermint woods and then back along the beach. If you want to go a bit further, a 5km return spur leads to Little Beach.
Albany Heritage Park
The Albany Heritage Park encompasses Mount Clarence and Mount Adelaide and contains many historical and cultural attractions.
Desert Mounted Corps Memorial sits at the top of Corndarup, Mount Clarence. It is a duplicate of the original statue erected in 1931 at Port Said, Egypt. The granite blocks are part of the original monument and still have the bullet marks from the original memorial. The memorial was erected in Albany after being recast in 1964. The views from here over the Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound are incredible. This is the location of the ANZAC dawn service held every year. The walk from the car park is up some stairs and along a path lined with memorials.
Padre White Lookout is a walkway at the top of Mt Clarence. It marks the spot where Padre White, the Rector of St John’s Church in York St, led his parishioners to in 1930. This is claimed to be the first-ever Dawn Service on ANZAC Day in Australia.
Apex Lookout is on the way back along Apex Drive. There are lovely views of King George Sound, Princess Royal Harbour, and even as far as Middleton Beach and Emu Point. Look out for the King Skinks on the rocks below.
The Princess Royal Fortress, Mount Adelaide, is one of Australia’s best outdoor military museums. It is one of two pre-federation fortresses constructed to protect intercontinental trade routes. It was decommissioned in 1956, like other coastal defences throughout the Commonwealth. All buildings are open to the public.
Take time to explore the historic gun emplacements and the extensive naval gun collection. There’s a range of artifacts, including the original gun turrets from the HMAS Swan and HMAS Torrens, which both served in the Royal Australian Navy. Children enjoy this part!
The Princess Royal Fortress also contains two underground magazines, the Princess Royal Battery and the Plantagenet Battery. They were constructed in 1892 and used to store cordite required to fire the large coastal guns. You can wander through the magazine and see the solid walls and original floors.
The National ANZAC Centre is the most recent addition to the Princess Royal Fortress site. Here you will learn about ANZAC and follow personal stories through the state of the art technology, multimedia, and historical artifacts.
Each visitor can assume the identity of a serviceman or woman and trace their journey through the Great War in an immersive learning experience. Entry ticket is valid any time during opening hours; access to all buildings within the Princess Royal Fortress is included.
The Convoy Walk leads to Convoy Lookout with views over King George Sound. You will pass 21 markers containing information about the ships in the First and Second Convoys on the walk up, including the names and images of the troopships and escorts.
You can download the Albany Heritage Park Map here.
To cover a lot of ground in just an hour, consider a segway tour like this one.
The Princess Royal Fortress Married Quarters are semi-detached stone cottages with iron roofs built in 1899 for married personnel.
This full-size replica of the Brig Amity is a fun thing to do with children in Albany. The original vessel carried settlers and convicts to establish the first European settlement on the west coast of Australia in 1826.
It gives you the chance to experience what it was like aboard a convict ship and what they had to endure. You get to explore the upper and lower decks, but some spaces are very low (perfect for kids though). It’s a fun way for children to learn about the first European settlers here.
This replica was built in 1975 and is situated a few hundred metres from where Major Edmund Lockyer and the party of 45 arrived on Christmas Day 1826, officially being the first people to land and settle in WA.
The Amity left Albany and supplied another new colony along the Swan River (now Fremantle and Perth). She was wrecked off Flinders Island, Tasmania, on 18 June 1845.
It is best to call ahead on 9841 4844 as opening and closing times may vary. It is closed Anzac Day until 1 pm, Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
The cost as of June 2021 was $5 per adult, $2 per child, and $12 for 2 adults & 2 children.
You can find The Brig Amity Replica on Princess Royal Drive, close to the city centre.
King George Sound & City Centre
As King George Sound was the site of Western Australia’s first European settlement, it offers plenty of historical sites to discover.
Albany Town Hall is located at 217 York Street, the town’s main street. It opened in 1888 and was where WA’s first regional meeting of State Parliament took place.
The Old Post Office (1834) was formerly the post office, customs office, and the overland telegraph base station. The University of Western Australia Albany now occupies it.
Stirling Terrace, (East end), opposite Spencer Street.
St John’s Church started construction in 1841 and was built mainly by British convicts. This Anglican church of St John the Evangelist was the first to be consecrated in WA.
The Vancouver Arts Centre was built in 1887 and was the former Albany Cottage Hospital. George Temple Poole, a colonial architect, designed the building. It remained a hospital until 1962.
85 Vancouver Street, Albany WA 6330
Albany Convict Gaol & Museum complex was built in 1852 for Imperial convicts shipped to WA. Women’s cells, the Great Hall, and more warders’ quarters were constructed between 1872 and 1875.
Lower Stirling Terrace, Albany WA 6330 (opposite the Police Station)
The renovated Museum of the Great Southern overlooks picturesque Princess Royal Harbour on the site of the first European settlement in WA. The museum includes exhibitions, public programs, educational programs, and information on the region’s unique natural and social history.
You can read the stories of the Menang Noongar people and the influence of Mokare, a young Noongar warrior.
The Residency building was completed in 1850 and was a store and office for the convict-hiring depot. When that closed in 1872, it became home to the local government administrator until 1953. It had various tenants until 1975 when it was opened as a museum. It was the first branch of the WA Museum outside the metropolitan area.
Residency Road, Albany WA 6330
The Court House entrances were built in 1896 and are a unique example of the architecture of that period. You can see it on Stirling Terrace (West).
Patrick Taylor Cottage, built in 1832, is the oldest dwelling in Western Australia. This 11 room wattle and daub home is furnished as it would have been in that era. It’s a must-see attraction for visitors.
37 Duke St, Albany WA 6330
The Earl of Spencer Tavern is one of the oldest taverns in WA. Built in 1874, it was originally a boarding house established by Richard Nesbitt. In 1925, it was converted into a shop and owned by the family until about 1978. The Inn was renovated in 1988 to its original charm.
The Royal George Hotel was built in 1885 and is an example of Victorian Free Classical architecture.
Wesley Church, in Duke Street, was built in 1890. It’s Victorian-style with gothic elements such as pointed arched entrances, a tall spire, and pointed arched windows.
Lastly, see if you can find Dog Rock on your walk around Albany town centre.
Mt Melville Lookout
You have access to a tower that provides fantastic views over the port and art silos from a small car park. The tower is free and provides a different perspective of the area. Even though it’s not as nice as the other lookouts, it’s worth a stop if you are driving past.
Public Silo Art Trail
The Public Silo Trail is a series of murals on the region’s grain silos. The self-drive covers over 1,000 km through Northam, Ravensthorpe, and Merredin.
You can see the ruby sea dragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) on the silos down at the port.
Tours from Albany WA
If you don’t have your own car or would rather take a tour, Viator has some great ones. We use them as local prices are guaranteed, and they offer free cancellation.
Where to stay in Albany WA
There are plenty of accommodation options in Albany. We’ve stayed at Middleton Beach Caravan Park a couple of times. It is right on the beach and a 10-minute drive from the centre of Albany. It was perfect as it had its own kitchen facilities and bathroom plus it was only a short walk to cafes. We booked it through booking.com as they had the best rates. See what price you can get it for today here.
Another time, we stayed at Banksia at Middleton, booked again through booking.com. It’s in a perfect location in the heart of Middleton Beach. The apartment itself was clean with full kitchen facilities, and the bedrooms and bathroom were upstairs. Unfortunately, the décor is a bit dated, and the pipes groaned whenever water was turned on. Also, the air conditioning is downstairs, so we found it hot upstairs (we stayed at the hottest time of the year).
To find out what properties I would stay at next time and highly rate, read this guide on the best accommodation in Albany WA.
To ensure you have the best time in Albany, read this Albany Travel Guide, which includes tips on the best time to visit Albany, how to get there, a brief history of the area, and other handy information.
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Travel Information & Guides
This Australia Travel Guide, which includes all essential information and tips, will help with the planning of your holiday to this beautiful country.
If you are looking for more things to do in Western Australia, check out this Western Australia Travel Guide.
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