After two fairly rough days at sea crossing the Australian bight we reached Albany on the morning of February 20.
Founded in 1826 by a group sent out from Sydney, Albany was a home to whalers until 1978 & was an important stop on the shipping route from Britain to Sydney. Until 1897 it was the only deep water port in Western Australia. Situated on Princess Royal Harbor inside the much larger King George Sound, Its population is about 34,000.
The coast in this region can be quite dramatic & our excursion set out early in the morning to see some of it. We visited Torndirrup National Park to see two formations in the coastal rocks that are within walking distance of each other. The first is called “The Gap,” an inlet into the rocky shore where the tides rush in. A walkway has been built part of the way over the gap to give a better view.
Not far away is the Natural Bridge. You can walk near, but not over, the Bridge.
This rocky and inhospitable area had quite a few flowers & also some unusual plants whose trunks stretched far over the rocks, looking dead but supporting greenery at the end.
Driving back from the National Park we passed a field with a horse feeding while wild kangaroos breakfasted in the field behind him.
We returned to Albany & drove up Mt Clarence. Near the top is a monument to the ANZAC troops who fought in Palestine during World War I (ANZAC is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp). This monument was originally erected in Port Said, Egypt, in 1932 but was destroyed during the Suez crisis in 1956. The base & plinth were sent back to Australia but the sculpture had been irreparably destroyed. A new version of the monument was created and the whole thing was erected here in 1964. The sculpture shows a mounted Australian and a dismounted New Zealand soldier in action.
Albany is a center for ANZAC remembrance because it was from this harbor that the more than 40,000 ANZAC volunteers set sail in two convoys to fight in World War I. The first convoy left on November 1, 1914. Many of those troops fought in the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey, an unsuccessful amphibious campaign designed to take Turkey out of the war early. One of the famous battles there was for “One Pine Hill,” so named because a single pine tree was at the top. Near the monument here is the Lone Pine memorial, consisting of a pine tree planted in 1974 from a pine cone collected by some soldiers from the top of One Pine Hill, after the original pine tree had been destroyed in the battle.
At the top of the mountain above these memorials is the Mt Clarence Lookout, with fabulous views over Albany and King George Sound. Ships have to come through the narrow passage in the foreground to enter Princess Royal Harbor and the Albany dock. This passage is called Ataturk Entrance, apparently named after Kemal Ataturk, the first president of modern Turkey and also a general who fought against the ANZAC troops at Gallipoli.
Next we toured the nearby National Anzac Centre, a museum dedicated to the ANZAC troops of World War I. It was very interesting with cutting edge interactive technology, although a little light on artifacts. The focus was on individuals who were part of the Anzac force. Each visitor receives a card describing one Anzac member, then you can follow their personal experiences as you proceed through the museum, reading about the battles & the people who fought in them. The museum opened on November 1, 2014, the 100th anniversary of the departure of the first convoy of troops. It is very evocative.
We drove back into town & the bus dropped us off on York Street, the main street in town. Albany has no stoplights, only roundabouts at the intersections. We walked up the street, lined with old Victorian buildings. Among other things, we passed the Town Hall, erected in 1888, which was also the place to catch the shuttle back to the ship. There was also an interesting statue of Mokare, an elder of the Noongar Aboriginal people who was instrumental in establishing good relations with the British settlers in 1826. Monuments to Aboriginal people seem to be pretty rare in our limited experience. A plaque explained that this was a “reconciliation project.” Near the Town Hall was a large poster depicting the head of this statue.
We stopped for lunch at the Albany Hotel, built in 1835. Among the best fish & chips we have ever had, along with some tasty local brew.
The public library was under renovation so it didn’t look like much from the outside. But it was still in operation inside, although a two week closure was imminent.
We saw more flora after our return from the National Park in the morning. So here is what some of it looked like.
Last but not least we walked up to visit the Dog Rock. It looks very much like a dog’s head, especially since someone has painted a collar around the dog’s neck. We have read that the Noongar Aborginal people called this “Boondie Yokine” before the Europeans came, which translates as “Dog Rock.”
Back on the ship, we had nice views of the port and of the wind farm on the opposite side of the harbor. Some 18 huge windmills sit atop a ridge. We were told that there are only 7 days a year when there is insufficient wind to turn the turbines (the day we were there was certainly not one of them) and that the wind farm supplies about 80% of all the local electricity. Solar panels provide most of the rest.
We pulled away from the dock and headed out through Ataturk Entrance. On the island to our right was a flock of Cormorants.
A lot of locals had parked their cars on the mountain beside Albany to watch us sail out.
As evening fell we sailed out into King George Sound and thence into the Southern Ocean.