History: Albany, Western Australia

This is an interesting overview of Albany, a significant town in Australia’s history inclusive of military, whaling and I was surprised to learn of frequent king waves here. My friend and I just discussed many people washed off rocks by very large surges. Enjoy.

This is an overview courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany,_Western_Australia

Albany (play /ˈælbəni/) is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, some 418 km SE of Perth, the state capital. As of 2009, Albany’s population was estimated at 33,600, making it the 6th-largest city in the state.[2]

The city centre is at the northern edge of Princess Royal Harbour, which is a part of King George Sound. The Central Business District is bounded by Mount Clarence to the east and Mount Melville to the west. The city is in the Local Government Area of the City of Albany.

Albany was founded in January 1827 as a military outpost of New South Wales as part of a plan to forestall French ambitions in the region. The area was initially named Frederickstown in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. In 1831, the settlement was transferred to the control of the Swan River Colony and renamed Albany by Governor James Stirling.[3]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the town served as a gateway to the Eastern Goldfields and, for many years, it was the colony’s only deep-water port, having a place of eminence on shipping services between Britain and its Australian colonies. The construction of Fremantle Harbour in 1893,[4] however, saw its importance as a port decline, after which the town’s industries turned primarily to agriculture, timber and, later, whaling. Unlike Perth and Fremantle, Albany was a strong supporter of Federation in 1901.

Today the town is a place of significance as a tourist destination and base from which to explore the South-West of the State and is well regarded for its natural beauty and preservation of heritage. The town has an important, though somewhat controversial, role in the Anzac legend, being the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War.

Albany is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia, predating Perth and Fremantle by some two years.

The Albany region was first 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”.[5] Many town names in South-Western Australia end in “up” or “ing”, which means “place of” in the Noongar language. Early European explorers discovered evidence of fish traps located on Emu Point and on French, now Kalgan, River and a small “village” of bark dwellings that were, at the time, deserted.

Albany is also the oldest continuous European settlement in Western Australia, founded in 1826, three years before the state capital of Perth. The King George Sound settlement was a hastily-dispatched British military outpost, intended to forestall any plans by France for settlements in Western Australia.

The first European explorers to visit the area around Albany were on the Dutch ship Gulden Zeepaert (Golden Seahorse) skippered by François Thijssen in 1627.[6] They sailed along the south coast towards South Australia.

In 1791, English explorer George Vancouver explored the south coast including entering and naming King George Sound.[6] Albany was the site at which, on 27 September 1791, Vancouver took possession of New Holland for the British Crown.[7] 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.

Australian-born explorer Phillip Parker King visited King George Sound in 1822 on the Bathurst.

On 26 October 1826, Frenchman Dumont d’Urville in the L’Astrolabe visited King George Sound before sailing along the south coast to Port Jackson.

Later in 1826, on Christmas Day, a British Army expedition, led by Major Edmund Lockyer arrived on the Amity, from Sydney, and founded a military base.[6] Lockyer rescued Aboriginal women from offshore islands, who had been kidnapped by sealers operating in the Great Australian Bight as sexual slaves, and apprehended the culprits, sending them east to stand trial. As a result, the local Minang Noongar organised a corroboree in his honour, cementing the good relationships established earlier between local Aboriginal groups of the area and European explorers.

Albany was officially named by Governor Stirling at the beginning of 1832, at the time that political authority passed to the Swan River colony. It is named after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, and son of King George III.[8]

Albany was also the final destination in 1841 of explorer Edward John Eyre, after being the first person to reach Western Australia by land from the East (Adelaide).

Until the opening of the Port of Fremantle in 1900,[9] Albany was also home to the only deep-water port in Western Australia, Princess Royal Harbour. This is the largest natural harbour in Western Australia and also on the entire south coast of the Australian mainland, outside of Melbourne. This facility meant that, for many years, the first port of call for the mail from England was at Albany. This put Albany in a privileged position over Perth and it remained that way until C. Y. O’Connor used dynamite on the reef that was blocking the entrance into the Swan River in Fremantle, thus establishing this port as Western Australia’s major harbour.

Since that time, Albany has become popular with retirees, with inhabitants enjoying the fresh air, clean beaches, and fine views over the Southern Ocean It is still also a thriving regional centre.

World War I

Ships carrying the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (later known collectively as ANZACs) to Europe to join World War I gathered at Albany in late October 1914. The first detachment departed in convoy on 1 November 1914, with a second detachment departing in late December 1914. Albany was the last place in Australia that the ANZACs saw and is therefore a prominent memorial, with the dedication of the Albany Anzac Peace Park and the pier of remembrance in 2010 a precursor to centenary commemorations planned for 2014-18.

The First Australian and New Zealand Expeditionary Force Fleet (1st Detachment) comprised the escort vessels HMS Minotaur of the Royal Navy’s China Station, Japanese battlecruiser Ibuki, the Australian cruisers Melbourne and Sydney, and the Royal New Zealand Squadron warships Pyramus, Psyche, and Philomel.[citation needed] These warships protected a 38-strong convoy, consisting of the Australian troopships Hymettus, Geelong, Orvieto (which was fleet command vessel), Pera, Omrah, Clan Maccorquordale, Medic, Argyllshire, Shropshire , Karoo, Ascanius, Saldanha, Katuna, Euripides, Star of England, Star of Victoria, Port Lincoln, Wiltshire, Afric, Hororata, Morene, Rangatira, Suffolk, Benalla, Anglo-Egyptian, Armadale, Southern, and Militiades, plus the New Zealand transports Maunganui, Tahiti, Ruapehu, Orari, Limerick, Star of India, Hawke’s Bay, Arawa, Athenic, and Waimana.[citation needed]

There is a memorial to the Desert Mounted Corps on top of Mount Clarence. The memorial consists of a statue of an Australian mounted soldier assisting a New Zealand soldier whose horse has been wounded and a wall bearing the words “Lest We Forget”. The first recorded Dawn Service was conducted by Anglican Chaplain Padre Arthur Earnest White (44th Battalion AIF) on 25 April 1923 atop Mount Clarence, and has been held ever since with several thousand people participating each year. Atop the adjoining Mount Adelaide is the Princess Royal Fortress – gun emplacements, buildings and a collection of military memorablilia to honour the sacrifice of Australian Defence Force personnel spanning the Boer War to today. The contribution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, president of Turkey from 1923 until 1938, is recognised by naming the entrance into Princess Royal Harbour as Atatürk Entrance, and there is a statue / monument overlooking the entrance on the Marine Drive walking trail.


The main industries of Albany consist of tourism, fishing and agriculture, although before the 1950s whaling was one of the major sources of income and employment for the population. The Whaling Station, which closed operations in 1978, has now been converted into a museum of whaling, and features one of the ‘Cheynes’ whale chasers that were used for whaling in Albany. The station was the last operating whaling station in the Southern Hemisphere and the English-speaking world at its time of closing.
Wind farm at Albany
The Gap at Albany

The Western Power Wind Farm in Albany is the largest and newest in Australia. Its 12 turbines, driven by strong southerly winds, can generate up to 75% of the city’s electricity usage.[10]

Albany also has a number of historic tourist sites including the Museum, Albany Convict Gaol, The Princess Royal Fortress (commonly known as The Forts), Patrick Taylor Cottage, (“is the oldest dwelling in Western Australia, c1832″). Albany has a great deal of historical significance to Western Australia.

Natural sights are also numerous, especially the rugged coastline, which includes the Natural Bridge and the Gap. The beaches have pristine white sand. The destroyer HMAS Perth was sunk in King George Sound in 2001 as a dive wreck.[11] Albany is also close to two low mountain ranges, the Porongurups and Stirling Ranges.

Albany is also the southern terminus of the Bibbulmun Track walking trail.[12]

Albany is home to HMAS Albany (based in Darwin) and the adopted home port of the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac. Albany is frequently visited by other warships.

Wine region

Albany is a sub-region of the Great Southern region of Western Australia, its focal point being the town of the same name. Albany’s climate is maritime, strongly shaped and moderated by the Southern Ocean; the standard description is that it is Mediterranean, with moist, cool winters and warm, dry summers. Diurnal temperature range is minimal, and moderate humidity in summer assists ripening by reducing stress on the vines. Soil conditions: lateritic gravelly, sandy loams or sandy loams derived directly from granite and gneissic rocks. Lat: 35 02’S; Alt: 75 m; Hdd: 1495; Gsr: 303 mm; Mjt: 19C; Harvest: Early Mid-March to end April; Chief Viticultural Hazard: Birds.[13]


Albany has a Mediterranean climate with mild summers and cool, wet winters.[14] The city is situated on what is promoted as the “Rainbow Coast” which is an appropriate title given the significant frequency of days with both sun and drizzle or showers.

July is the wettest month, with a long-term average of 144.0 mm (5.67 in), whilst rain occurs on two days out of every three during an average winter. The driest month is February with a mean of about 22.9 mm (0.90 in); in summer, it rains on average about one day in every four.

Albany received a record amount of rain on 20 November 2008 when violent storms swept across the Great Southern region. The town was flooded after 113.8 mm (4.48 in) of rain fell in a 24-hour period, the highest amount recorded since records began in 1877.


The Albany region is notorious for people being lost from so-called ‘king’ waves washing people off rocks, which may or may not be associated with freak waves or similar phenomenon. On the otherwise picturesque coastline there are many beaches that are safe and usable:

Emu Beach
Emu Point
Middleton Beach
Frenchman Bay Beach
Gull Rock / Boiler Beach
Bettys Beach
Shelley Beach
Two Peoples Bay, including Little Beach and Waterfall Beach
Muttonbird Beach
Cosy Corner

Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”