Peaceful Bay to Albany

After five glorious days at Peaceful Bay lazing about it’s time to move on. We’re supposed to be tourists after all, travelling and learning about Australia. Albany is 50 miles away and a real scenic drive.

Albany is the states oldest settlement and is situated in Princess Royal Harbour on King George Sound. A deep protected sound perfect for the first British settlement and military outpost in Western Australia. The first citizens (46 people), half of them convicts arrived on Christmas Day 1826 on the brig Amity under the command of Major Edmund Lockyer. The Dutch and French had been more influential in the finding and mapping of Australia some 100 years previous but of course it was the good old Brits who turned up and claimed it for themselves (some things never change). The old part of Albany itself sits on a hillside facing the harbour just as it was settled. Although classed as a city Albany is not a city as we know them but it certainly is bigger than any of the other towns we’ve passed through since Perth.

We spent some time looking at a full size replica of the Brig Amity and you can only marvel at how the convicts and crew endured a crossing in such cramped conditions. We then drove round to Frenchman’s Bay on the way calling at Natural Bridge. This is a huge piece of granite which over the years has been eroded by the sea to form an arch and also the gap, a sheer chasm of natural stone with the surf some 30 metres below. This is viewed from the safety of a steel cage but is still quite hairy to say the least. It is a very exposed piece of coastline and the next stop is Antarctica. Australia was in fact once joined to Antarctica but floated away and is indeed still floating just 5cm a year.

Later we visited the Whale World Museum, housed in the actual whaling station which was closed in 1978 and is now a very impressive tourist museum. Only 30 years ago whales were towed into the bay and then hacked into pieces near the beach, their blubber being melted down in great pressure cookers with the blood running down into the sea. The museum is full of 3D films on several screens located in the now defunct pressure cookers. There is also one of the last old whale chasing boats to look round as well.

Whaling and tourism could never work together but thankfully whaling was banned and is now just part of history. The other good news is – the whales have returned.

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