South to Albany

OZDUCK

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As you may have seen in "The view from my Office " thread we have been down south to Albany for a few days. We had some CX Asia Miles points that were due to expire so using them to stay in a B & B in Albany seemed like a good idea. Albany is the site of the first permanent European settlement in W. A. It was founded as a military settlement in 1826 - partly to forestall any possible French claims.

First of all one of the prime views in Albany - King George Sound from the Marine Drive Lookout on Mt Clarence.

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We stayed at Dunmoylen House which was built around 1890. It overlooks Princess Royal Harbour - through some trees and is about 800 metres from the centre of town. You can buy it as a going concern for $1.1 million.

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Note the magpie doing a high wire act.

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There were chocolates in the room and more chocolates and a bottle of port in the breakfast room. A small kitchenette for the guests had a fridge, microwave, dishes & cutlery. Tea and coffee was always available to make for yourself.

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Breakfast room. The B & B has three double bedrooms.

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There was a selection of cereals, toast and fruit toast. Plus you could order a hot dish such as waffle with jam & cream, boiled egg, porridge etc.

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The kitchenette

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OZDUCK

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Some of 'old' Albany.

Looking down the main street, York St, towards Princess Royal Harbour

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The Town Hall - opened 1 June 1888

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At dusk with a crescent moon.

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Just a little bit downhill from the Town Hall is St John's Anglican Church. It was completed in 1844 and is the oldest church in Western Australia.

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This house was constructed in 1858.

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St Joseph's Convent - circa 1881

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The old Post Office. The first phase of construction was completed in 1865 with some extension work completed in 1895. For my personal interest it also housed the Customs House from 1870 to 1966. It is now part of the University of W.A's Albany Campus.

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A private house not far from our B & B.

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Looks lovely. I was just reading up the Wiki about Albany and I was wondering what sustains the population of 34k people? Can a population that size exist only on tourism, agriculture and fishing which would be 3 struggling industries. Is it thriving or surviving?
 
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The whaling museum, and the coast nearby, as well as the WWI memorial are excellent.
 

OZDUCK

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Looks lovely. I was just reading up the Wiki about Albany and I was wondering what sustains the population of 34k people? Can a population that size exist only on tourism, agriculture and fishing which would be 3 struggling industries. Is it thriving or surviving?
It seems to be going ok. There is some new building going on and plenty of new housing being built. Fishing is not that big a money earner down there though there is some going on. It is the 'Regional Centre' for that area and so makes some money that way. Tourism does seem to be a big driver of prosperity especially with the newer wine areas just north of Albany around Mt Barker. If Black Duck is around they may be able to give a better overview of the situation.
 

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We will be staying in Albany one night in April, when we drive the Silo Art Trail !!
 

JohnM

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Looks lovely. I was just reading up the Wiki about Albany and I was wondering what sustains the population of 34k people? Can a population that size exist only on tourism, agriculture and fishing which would be 3 struggling industries. Is it thriving or surviving?

It's a significant agriculture centre and port for a rich high-rainfall, high-yielding agricultural hinterland (predominantly grains, livestock, but also wine and horticulture). Certainly could not describe agriculture as 'struggling' there. It's not marginal country. Also a major centre for plantation forestry (bluegums) with a large chipping and export facility.
 

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OZDUCK

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While there are some nice buildings in Albany it is the scenery around it that most travel to see.

The Whaling Station with a 'whalechaser' ashore. Plus a happy whale about to harpooned. We have down the 'tour' before so just had a walk around outside this time. It is relatively expensive at $32 for an adult.

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The Gap - a lot of money has been spent in the last few years around this area. But note that is in a National Park' and entry fees apply.

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As I pointed out in the 'Office' thread my fear of heights stopped me from going out to the edge when I started looking down.

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Luckily my wife is made of sterner stuff.

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The Natural Bridge a short walk away.

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For the rockhound's among us.

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This sign is not just for show. There have been numerous accidental deaths off the rocks in this area.

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OZDUCK

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Nest we drove through Denmark, about 55 km west of Albany, and went out to the mouth of Wilson Inlet.

The mouth is often closed and I was a bit surprised to see it open at the end of summer.

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The channel leading to left in this photo goes around an island and is where the bities had been seen.

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The Pelicans were wading around waiting for easy pickings in the shallow water.

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A few hundred metres from the inlet mouth there is a reasonably large sand island which can be reached via two pontoon bridges.

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No matter how inviting the water looked I was not going to duck paddle there.

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This beach was only a hundred metres or so from the pontoon bridge and its shark warning yet people had been swimming there about 30 minutes before I took this photo. You can just see the beach closed sign to the right. No wonder there are so many Darwin Award winners.

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The island is used as a dog exercise area but about half of it is fenced off during the bird breeding season. It is a long way from Siberia to the bottom of W.A.

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There were some nice flowers on the island.

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OZDUCK

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The next day w went to the Porongurups - about 48 km north of Albany. Our first task was to walk up to the Castle Rock Lookout as featured by JohnM in his TR a few weeks ago.

Me starting out with good intent on the 2.2 km walk to the lookout.

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Perhaps this is not such a good idea after all?

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Shortly after negotiating this bit of track some kind soul told us that were just under halfway there and that it was steeper ahead.

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At that stage Father Time leapt out from behind a tree and told me to turn around, turn around. And we did. By the time I had made it back to the car my bung knee was really complaining about the downhill return. I was getting close to the walking backwards stage so I knew that I had done the sensible thing in not trying to push on further.

We then drove a few km down the road and had lunch at a spot where we could do a massive 120 metre walk to see the, imaginatively named, Tree in a Rock.

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After lunch we drove another 35 km or so to the edge of the Stirling Ranges. It always surprises me how different the vegetation is in this area compared to the close-by Porongurups.

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We went off down a gravel road - Stirling Range Drive. I only went a few km in as I was having trouble 'harmonising' my 16 year old Statesman with the corrugations.

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Mt Hassell

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At the top of this rise you could see the salt lakes of the interior beginning to appear. Possibly Camel Lake?

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These are the type of rare plants that grow here.

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We didn't see them but did see these.

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OZDUCK

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A few more from that day.

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Mt Hassell again. You can see how bare the hillsides are compared to the Porongurups.

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I have never seen so much roadworks and so many camper vans and caravans on W.A roads before. It is even better when a Campervan breaks down at the roadworks.

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Much of the roadworks seemed to be of the type that was quickly organised to use stimulus money from the state and federal governments. There was a lot of widening of the steeper gravel verges to make them safer for example.

As my wife said on the earlier walk you would not want to be on these tracks if there was a bushfire about.

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Black Duck

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Lovely report OZDUCK thank you.

There has been an awful lot of roadworks around for the whole year which I feel they thought to get underway when no one was travelling but it goes on and on. The country around the Stirlings is lovely and flora really nice. We usually do a look around Red Gum Pass each September to have a look.

As for the prosperity of Albany- as JohnM says it does alright. The agriculture is diverse and good. Cattle, grains, wineries, vege growing (lots of spuds, strawberries, apples and other fruit etc. As the regional centre it takes in a fairly broad area. Also the dreaded Blue Gum plantations and the port is busy with grain and wood chips. The cruise ships haven't been coming of course which will has affected some business in town particularly.

Its also traditionally been the retirement town for the wheatbelt ( along with Busselton on the west coast ) and there seems to be more development all the time. The suburbs seem to grow ever outwards.

Its my regional centre although I am west of Denmark. We tend to go over for bigger shops but not all the time. Many of the Denmark folk work in Albany and quite a few high school kids also commute as do those attending the Tafe . I use to teach at the Tafe so being west of Denmark meant a trip of 100kms each way for me. Painful as it was into the sun each way.

This year has seen property across the area just disappear as soon as advertised. I understand that's happening in all regional areas but some of it has been astounding. It will be interesting to see if people move and stay.
 

Black Duck

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Forgot to add. Tourism is very significant right across the region. In Denmark and West to Walpole it would be the most important thing. Long ago it was timber but no more.
 

OZDUCK

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Back to Albany itself and some photos from/of Mt Clarence.

King George Sound with Michaelmas Island on the left centre and Breaksea Island on the right centre.

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Breaksea Island and its lighthouse - around 12 km offshore. This lighthouse became part of the story of the first ANZAC convoys because of the Lighthouse keepers 15 year old daughter. She was the last person they saw as they sailed out and she communicated with them via semaphore and Morse Code and passed their messages onto relatives via the telegraph system. Many of the soldiers wrote to her from the front, addressing their postcards to ‘the little girl on Breaksea Island’.


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Ataturk Entrance to Princess Royal Harbour - note the WW2 concrete strongpoint

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A grain ship that has just passed through the entrance. The shallowest point in the shipping channel is 12 metres deep. The other vessel is loading woodchips.

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The Old Whaling Station in Frenchman Bay - from a distance. The buildings in the foreground could have been useful these days as they were part of the Quarantine Station at Quaranup. It operated, starting out with tents, from 1875 until the 1930's. Albany was the major sea port for W.A until Fremantle Harbour was opened in 1897.

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The wreck of the whalechaser Cheynes II. It has been sitting in the mud in Princess Royal Harbour since 1992.- "after having been stripped of fittings and lying derelict at the Albany Town Jetty, the Cheynes II broke loose from its moorings in a gale, and grounded on a sandbank". It is not far from the old quarantine station.

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The ANZAC Centre -we spent a few hours inside last visit so didn't go this time. It is well worth a visit.

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At the Princess Royal Fortress Museum there is a nice little collection of firepower. The weapons are from HMAS Perth which was sunk as a dive wreck offshore from the whaling station in 2001. There is also an US torpedo commemorating the period when Albany acted as an American submarine base during WW2.

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One of the Old Fortress Buildings. The fortress was opened in 1893, during the 'Russian Scare', and was abandoned in 1956.

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Thanks for all the responses as to what keeps the area economically thriving. For the life of me I had never imagined that strawberries would grow in WA and I don't know why, maybe I thought the climate would not be favorable. As others have mentioned, I am enjoying this scenic journey through WA and hopefully when life returns to normal I can take a similar road trip.
 

JohnM

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Thanks for all the responses as to what keeps the area economically thriving. For the life of me I had never imagined that strawberries would grow in WA and I don't know why, maybe I thought the climate would not be favorable. As others have mentioned, I am enjoying this scenic journey through WA and hopefully when life returns to normal I can take a similar road trip.

South-western Australia (effectively SW of a line Geraldton-Southern Cross-Esperance) has the most classically Mediterranean-type climate anywhere. The year is really divided into two seasons: wet, mild winter; dry, warm summer. About 80% of the rain falls between April and October. It is said that SW WA has the climate California thinks it's got. ;)

Sunny, mild conditions are highly favourable for winter-growing annual rain-watered cropping (eg. cereals (WA produces about 50% of Australia's wheat) and canola) and for perennial or summer-growing crops where irrigation is possible (eg. avocados, wine grapes, berry fruits, apples. stonefruit, citrus, potatoes, vegetables), plus cattle and sheep.

It's not a desert in the SW!

The far SW and W S coast, such as around Albany, is the area with the highest rainfall, longest growing season and the mildest climate (for me, Albany can be too mild in the summer, with its coastal cloud and onshore wind).
 

OZDUCK

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Forgot to add. Tourism is very significant right across the region. In Denmark and West to Walpole it would be the most important thing. Long ago it was timber but no more.
Hi Black Duck. While we were in Albany we bought a preserve from the Black Duck Gourmet Pantry! I couldn't resist asking the woman if anyone there was a traveller but her blank look gave me the answer. Not your second job once upon a time?
 

Black Duck

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No OZDUCK. Think they pinched my name though! Wish I could have met up with you but it was one of those weeks. We had been over in Albany at the start of the week too. We are half way between Denmark and Walpole so maybe your next visit?
 

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