Mount Nameless - Tom Price

Top 5 Things about Western Australia

We had many discussions before deciding what our top 5 things about Western Australia would be. The fact of the matter is, it was really hard to pick just five things. Western Australia is huge and has so many fantastic aspects to it; there was a lot to think about.

 

A Geraldton sunset...

 

The history of WA is pretty interesting. Unlike most of the other states, the Swan colony started off as a free colony instead of a penal colony where convicts were sent. The capital was supposed to be Albany but ended up being Perth because of the fertile soils of the Swan River. We loved how big the state was – WA is the biggest state in Australia and if it was its own country, it would be the 10th largest in the world! It is ten times bigger than the UK and is bigger than Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all put together!

 

The sunsets were undoubtedly spectacular, and any beach along the west coast is an ideal viewing spot. There were lots of places along the way that we fell in love with – tropical Broome, funky Fremantle, the kooky Principality of Hutt River, the magical Stonehenge in Esperance, the massive meals at the Denmark Tavern and the burgers Alfred’s Kitchen. One thing we noticed when we stayed with friends in build up areas was that nearly everyone keeps egg laying chickens in their backyard. We don’t know whether it’s because eggs are expensive or whether they’re doing their bit against factory farming but we loved it!

 

 

So, without much ado, and in no particular order, here is our Top 5 for Western Australia:

 

National Parks

You can’t dispute that WA has some amazing national parks. Karijini National Park is probably the most well-known park with its beautiful gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. We were really sad that we had to leave Karijini early due to heavy rains.

 

One of our favourites was Cape Le Grand National Park. We were originally going to skip it but a local insisted that we go. We are so thankful because it is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. We also loved the red soil and dynamic coastline of François Péron National Park.

 

Other national parks that are definitely worth a mention are Kalbarri National Park with Nature’s Window, Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles, and Mitchell River National Park in the Kimberley.

 

 

Shark Bay

Shark Bay was added to the World Heritage list in 1991 because it displays biological diversity, ecological processes, geological history and natural beauty. We spent about a week in Shark Bay and were blown away by the scenery and wildlife.

 

On your way in, stop at Shell Beach and marvel at the turquoise waters lapping at the blinding white shores made completely out of little cockle shells. If you have a 4WD, head to Steep Point and stand on the westernmost point of Australia. Camping at Whalebone Bay was $10 for the night and is a magnificent place to watch the sunset before you head into Denham for a beer at the westernmost pub in Australia. Make sure you visit Ocean Park and learn about the surrounding marine wildlife from a safe but super-close distance.

 

 

Beaches

Western Australia has over 12,000km of coastline and most of it is made up of picturesque beaches. Hellfire Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park was by far the most beautiful, while Shell Beach in Shark Bay was also spectacular.

 

Cable Beach in Broome was great because not only were we allowed to take our clothes off in the nudist section, but we got to watch the camel rides during sunset. Greens Pool near Denmark and Coral Bay both had an abundance of colourful fish right near the shore and were great for snorkelling.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

We did all the tours at Fremantle Prison. For some reason, we were absolutely fascinated with the place – the history of how and why it was built, the stories of stupidity and escape – and we wanted to see every part of this remarkable prison.

 

 

Breweries

Western Australia has some fantastic breweries. Little Creatures in Fremantle is absolutely fantastic and offers the works – interesting tours, delicious food and awesome beer!

 

In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we were lucky to find Beaten Track Brewery, and learnt a lot about the beer making process and what hops looks like. Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Duckstein in the Swan Valley were also great breweries to visit, for both the beer and the atmosphere. Matso’s Brewery in Broome really blew our socks off with their chilli beer and their Smokey Bishop dark lager. We enjoyed it so much, we went there twice in four days!

 

 

The Albany Centre of the University of WA

City Profile : Albany

We love Albany.

 

It’s a big town that has still retained a simple country feel to it and is filled with great, friendly people beaming with community spirit.  It’s a popular holiday spot that attracts a lot of visitors to enjoy the great beaches and vibrant atmosphere.  As we drove through town, we noticed lots of granite rocks sticking up all over the place, dividing properties and providing shade in parks.  The landscape is quite hilly, with two mountains in town – Mount Clarence with the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial to the east, and Mount Melville with walking trails and an observation tower to the west.

 

 

The main strip of York Street is capped with the marina and Princess Royal Harbour, and Dog Rock Shopping Centre at the top end, complete with major supermarkets and clothing brands.  The town hall stands beautifully next to the modern library and also features Western Australia’s oldest canonised church, St John’s Anglican Church.  To the east of town is Middleton, with a great swimming beach and several cafes and restaurants.  Three Anchors is a great place to sit down for lunch and they make a ripper coffee.  Albany also has its own coffee roaster – The Naked Bean.  Check out our post on The Naked Bean.

 

Albany sits along the coast of the Great Southern region of Western Australia.  It was first sighted in 1627 by Dutchman Peter Nuyts but the area was claimed as British ground by George Vancouver in 1791 and the bay was named King George III Sound.  After that, there were plenty of expeditions through the area so the British Government ordered a settlement to be founded to prevent the French from getting their piece of WA.

 

In 1826, the Brig Amity set sail from Sydney under the command of Major Edmund Lockyer and carried a party of convicts and soldiers, a doctor and storekeeper to King George Sound.  Almost 2 months later, the Brig Amity arrived to set up camp and Lockyer named the settlement Frederickstown, but 5 years later, it was renamed Albany.  It grew into a fishing and whaling town with plenty of agriculture and a busy port that serviced the fortune seekers heading to the Goldfields.

 

 

Albany’s whaling station was the last whaling station to stop operations in Australia, closing down in 1978. The whaling station was converted to into a tourist attraction called Whale World that features interactive displays, a 3D whale movie and full skeleton of the last whale taken.  It’s a $30 entry fee so it’s great for people who love learning about the whaling industry.

 

Points of Interest

WA Museum and the Brig Amity replica

The WA Museum is a great spot to learn about the history of Albany and the surrounding area.  When we visited, they also had a great lighthouse exhibition with an artistic light gallery at the end. Entry is by gold coin donation

 

 

Patrick Taylor Cottage is nearby and is the oldest surviving house in Western Australia.  It was built in 1832 by Patrick Taylor, a Scottish immigrant who arrived in Albany to not only become a farmer but to also improve his health.  The cottage has eleven rooms and is surrounded by an English country garden.

 

Towards the water is the Brig Amity replica, which is also visible from the road.  There is the option to go inside and check out the guts of the vessel for $12.

 

 

The Old Farm, Strawberry Hill

Western Australia’s oldest farm, it has been called the Old Farm for over 100 years now. Established as a government farm in 1827, before the Swan River colony, it played a major role in sustaining the first European settlement at King George Sound.

 

Over the years, the farm has had several owners and even fell into a state of disrepair.  The property was purchased by the government in 1956 as a historic monument and it was transferred to the National Trust in 1964.

 

 

There is also a lovely grassed area onsite complete with a stage and small orchard. It would be the perfect place for a wedding or even live music on weekends with some friends and a bottle of wine.

 

Boatshed Markets

A great place to experience Albany’s community spirit, the Boatshed Markets are held every Sunday from 10am to 1pm.  There’s plenty of parking and with local produce, live music, cooking demonstrations, fresh fish and wine tasting, it’s a great way to spend your morning.

 

 

We sampled a huge variety of Luscious Liquids honey as we had a chat to the lady behind the counter. We walked away with a jar of Wildflower honey and a piece of raw honeycomb. Delicious! After lunch, we shared the honeycomb with a lovely family we had met a few days earlier in Esperance. We all ate so much honey that we were buzzing for the rest of the day!

 

White Star Hotel & Tangle Head Brewery

We were keen to visit the local brewery, which was situated at the White Star Hotel.  Tangle Head Brewery started 6 years ago and offers a great range of beers.

 

 

  • Brewhouse Special (German Wheat Beer) – 5.2% golden beer with yeast, fruit and honey.  It was very clean and delicious.
  • Southern White Ale – 5.1% lightly coloured with banana on the nose.  The base is German wheat beer (hefeweizen).  There was also refreshing citrus.
  • Tanglehead Pale Ale – 4.8% a rich caramel colour with honey and caramel.  There was a slight hoppy finish.
  • Limeburners Stout – 4.3% dark black colour with a creamy froth, it smelt of honey, coffee and chocolate but the oatmeal stout was like charcoal – thick and smoky.
  • Ginger Beer – 3.5% very pale and fizzy, it was sweet with a slight ginger burn.

 

Tom, Bella, Dave & Juz enjoying Tanglehead beers!

 

Torndirrup National Park

A short drive from Albany is Torndirrup National Park, a 4000 hectare coastal sanctuary with heaps of rock formations and granite outcrops.

 

Stony Hill Heritage Trail is a quick 450m circuit around one of the highest points in the park and it provides great views of the southern ocean and the surrounding coastline.  The Gap and the Natural Bridge are within walking distance of each other and demonstrate how the constant battery of waves can wear down the rock.  The Natural Bridge is expected to collapse at some stage so make sure you go down and check it out before it does.

 

 

There is no entry fee to enter the park, camping is not allowed, and just around the corner is the Albany Wind Farm with 18 wind turbines that produces about 80% of Albany’s energy requirements.

 

Information & Accommodation

Albany Visitor Centre – Old Railway Station/55 Proudlove Parade, 08 9841 9290

Albany YHA – 49 Duke Street, 08 9842 3388

BIG4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park – 28 Flinders Parade, 08 9841 3593

 

 
 

LOVE COFFEE!

Experience : The Naked Bean

We just luuuuurve coffee and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit The Naked Bean in Albany!

 

The Naked Bean started 12 years ago with a small 1kg roaster.  They would roast their own coffee to use in their little corner café downtown in Albany.  Over time, coffee roasting took over and eventually they had to move into a warehouse to store all the bags of bean that they imported from all over the world.

 

The warehouse also doubles up as a café where you can sample their signature blend – Naked Espresso coffee.  It’s a delicious, full-bodied coffee that’s smooth and rounded, and if you purchase a Naked Bean keeper cup, you get a coffee for free!

 

 

They now use a 30kg roaster and make several espresso blends, single origins like Colombian Supremo and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, organic single origins and two decaffeinated varieties. The Organic Espresso is their award winner, earning second place in the Golden Bean competition.

 

The operations of the warehouse are viewable from the café and we were given a wonderful roasting demonstration in the big, red 30kg roaster.  Once the beans are roasted, they are released from the roaster and stirred to cool down before being sucked up and stored.   During this ‘sucking’ phase, any ‘non-coffee’ objects are discovered and removed from the batch, and they have found some pretty kooky stuff.  Once, they received Colombian beans with bullet casings in them, and other beans contained stones, nails and buttons!

 

The Naked Bean is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and is located on Sanford Road in Albany.

Phone: 08 9841 4225

Website: http://www.thenakedbean.com.au/