When we first got to Australia, we planned to spend three weeks in a RV driving a loop along the southern coast. One of the places we most wanted to see were the towns of Albany, Denmark, and Esperance.
After only 6 days into our RV trip, The Premier of Western Australia restricted all non-essential travel and everyone was required to stay within small regions. Albany wasn’t in our region so we thought we wouldn’t make it. As restrictions eased and the travel-bubble regions were enlarged, ours now included Albany, Denmark, and Esperance, so we packed our little Kia rental to the brim and headed south.
Albany is a coastal town on the Southern Ocean with a population of about 35,000 (which makes it the third largest city in Western Australia). We stayed in a cute 1940’s style home right off of the main street in town. It was within walking distance of a McDonald’s, a couple of grocery stores and a delicious fish and chip shop. I found out shark is my favorite fish when it is deep battered and fried. When we booked the house, we forgot to check if it had WiFi (it didn’t) and so our kids learned what a TV channel is. They watched a number of cooking shows and found they liked watching whatever was on TV as much as choosing their own show on Netflix. The town had a number of historic buildings that reminded me of the historic buildings in Salt Lake, Utah.
We made the most of our time while we were in Albany, and even though all the museums and some of the beaches were still closed, we managed to see some great places. We still wish we could have seen the beaches in Denmark ( a town close to Albany) like Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool, but they were all closed due to construction work going on in the area.
Our two older kids finished their online home school in Busselton. We tried to keep working on a few things while in Albany. Nolan worked on reading and writing, and Jane chose an “elective class” in cursive and for a few days she was pretty excited to practice it whenever she got a chance.
Lots of cool things to see around Albany. The weather was cool and rainy, so we spent less time at beaches and more time hiking and exploring.
Gap and Natural Bridge-Located in Torndirrup National Park, a natural bridge and a viewing platform provide views of the Southern Ocean.
Treetop Walk-The Valley of the Giants Tree Top located in Walpole-Nornalup National Park, gives you a bird’s eye view of some of the biggest timber giants on Earth – Western Australia’ tingle trees. The walkway climbs 40 meters into the forest canopy and meanders through the treetops for 600 meters. These giant eucalyptus trees are found nowhere else on Earth and are very old with some standing for more than 400 years.
Giant Tingle Tree– A fire-hollowed red tingle tree. As the trees grow compressive forces weaken or kill the center of the tree, leaving it susceptible to fire and insect damage. While the center may burn or rot, the outer trunk of the tree remains healthy.
This giant tree is very unusual – it is “emptied out” by a giant hollow. This hollow is some 15 m high and has been created by forest fires and further expanded by insects and fungus. The hollow is big enough to hold over 100 people. The tree is believed to be over 400 years old.
Granite Skywalk– The two lookouts give spectacular views across the park.
The two kilometre walk up from the Castle Rock picnic area passes through jarrah, marri, and karri forests and right by Balancing Rock to reach the base of Castle Rock and the lower lookout. Reaching the upper lookout requires scrambling through and over rocks and climbing a 6 meter ladder. Jess, Jane, and Nolan all did the upper and lower lookout, but Margaret and I only did the lower lookout.
Emu point beach-located in Albany, Australia. The kids had a fun time making sand food and houses.
Bluff Knoll hike in Sterling Range National Park– Not only does Western Australia have beautiful beaches, but also beautiful mountains. At 1098m above sea level, Bluff Knoll is the highest and most spectacular peak in the South West. The kids all were in good spirits during the hike and Margaret showed us all up by skipping up and down the 6 mile round trip hike.
Little Beach– a small beach in Albany. The kids had fun building wind tunnels. Jess swam despite the weather being cool and windy and I explored the surrounding area. Even though our oldest often complains about going to the beach, whenever we go to a beach, she ends up not wanting to leave. The kids spend hours making sand cakes and houses.
After a week and half in Albany, we had to plan our next destination. Esperance, a town about 6 hours further south and west had been our top destination in Western Australia. Several people had told us that Esperance has the most beautiful beaches in the world. But as the weather had turned cold, we didn’t think we’d be able to make the most of the beaches that far south and decided to travel north and into warmer weather. Our end destination was Exmouth, a town about 40 hours north and east of Albany. We planned a few stops along the way, one of which was the area of Hayden to see a rock formation called The Wave.