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Nestled in an outstanding natural harbour on Australia's south-western point is Albany, a port town that enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate and makes the perfect destination for those wanting to see the country's less-travelled side. The town's position amongst dramatic rock formations and bright turquoise waters, resting between Mount Melville and Mount Clarence, offers visitors a quietly beautiful location with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Albany Entertainment Centre
Completed in 2010, this state-of-the-art theatre and conference centre overlooks Princess Royal Harbour and hosts productions from national theatre companies and small local performers alike. The building is as striking inside as it is outside – with ranks of bright violet seats in its spot-lit black and grey theatre contrasting with the sharp, clean lines of its remarkable exterior architecture. The theatre's varied programmes cater to a broad range of tastes, and alongside performances from nationally renowned dance and Shakespeare companies, the centre has also been known to host brass bands and cabaret musicals.
Albany's award-winning tourist attraction was once the site of Australia's last remaining whaling company, which closed down in 1978 before the country outlawed the practice the following year. Re-opened as an education and heritage centre to tell the true story of the whaling practice, Whale World now offers visitors the chance to see gigantic whale skeletons on display, amongst 24 other informative exhibits. Visitors can also climb aboard a decommissioned former whaling vessel, the Cheynes IV Whalechaser, where an audio re-enactment will show them what it might have been like to experience a real whale hunt.
Princess Royal Fortress
This military fort was established in the late 1800s as a deterrent to any potential invasion on Australia's southern coast. Although the guns of the fortress stood for 63 years, they never had to be fired at an enemy and were eventually decommissioned in 1956 along with other coastal defences throughout the Commonwealth. Nowadays the fort serves as a military museum run primarily by volunteers, and gives visitors the chance to see the barracks, armouries and defensive gun batteries that were once in use. In addition to war memorials commemorating US Submariners and the Merchant Navy, the museum also includes a display highlighting the 10th Light Horse Regiment, which departed from Albany to serve in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign during the First World War. The fort's hilltop position offers great views and walking tracks, and the tea house is often open to visitors for high tea.
Visitors to Albany will find some big producers of sandalwood oil and beauty products in the region, which may also offer visitors tours of their production floors. See how this fragrant wood is taken from the evergreen trees of the Australian outback and processed into one of the most widely-used essential oils on the planet – from its use in fragrances, cosmetics and aromatherapy to its many medicinal properties. There are also some great variety stores in the town, stocking practically everything – from fancy-dress costumes to DIY.
Why not take a table at a restaurant around the Albany Entertainment Centre, where diners are afforded clear views of the hills and harbour? Eateries in the area often serve locally-caught fish on their menus and serve boutique beers and spirits, as well as locally-made coffee. Alternatively, try a cottage-style restaurant for a cosier, more homely dining experience – a great place to grab some lunch, or just to relax with some coffee and something sweet.
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