We spent five lovely days in Perth staying with friends and just relaxing after the 10,000km we have driven so far. Long sleeps, great restaurants and little walks through urban villages made this a wonderful R&R. All too soon we hit the road again. This time to Albany.
There were lots of pleasant forest drives to this southern part of Western Australia which made a nice change from the flat landscapes we have had for days previously. Albany is a small town on the southern tip and was known for its whaling station in the early days. The former whaling station now houses a museum from where migrating whales can be seen passing off the coast in season.
We made our way to a different museum – the National Anzac Centre which is located up on a hill in the Princess Royal Fortress. It overlooks the actual harbour where over 41,000 men and women departed Australia for the Great War.
Immediately on arrival you are given a card upon which is a photograph and the name of someone who served in the war. Then you follow their personal story through state of the art technology, multimedia and historic artefacts.
Mine was an Australian Army Nurse – Olive Haynes – who went to Gallipoli and then Egypt after which she was in Marseille and Boulogne in France. It was fascinating to learn of her journey, see her letters and follow her life. Happily she survived the war and lived to the age of 90.
There are amazing historical displays and many, many stories but one piece touched me deeply – a sculpture of a digger giving his horse a drink of water from his hat. Those men were deeply attached to their horses and the bravery of both is highlighted in the museum as well.
Albany has one of the most exposed coasts in Australia and about 20km from the town centre is The Gap – a 24 metre chasm to the ocean. We had heard of this area but nothing prepared us for the spectacle that awaited on arrival. Also at this place is The Natural Bridge which is a large span of granite that has been eroded and has formed an archway. There is a path leading to both attractions and even on the windiest day, it is possible to watch the fury of the ocean.
The Natural Bridge is also amazing – and walking across the granite rocks to the bridge one can sense the magnitude of time and also think of the Dreamtime legends of the Aboriginal people.
The coast here is rugged and wild and there are countless stories of shipwrecks.
Later we went to the Torndirrup National Park in Albany where there are a number of lookouts and walking trails.
Being here amongst the cliffs, the wild sea, the granite rocks and in the little town made me think of one of my favourite novels – The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman – which tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife in this part of Western Australia in 1926 following the Great War and is loosely based on a story here in Albany.
Finally, in this place of granite rocks, we stayed in a Hotel called Dog Rock – and this is why……
Can you pick the dog?