Albany, Western Australia, Australia

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Established in 1826, Albany was the first European settlement in Western Australia and quickly grew into a bustling commercial hub. Its historic heart has a certain faded grandeur, while the modern waterfront is undergoing major redevelopment. The area’s most striking features, however, predate the original settlement. Its natural wonders include stunning coastline stretching from Torndirrup National Park’s majestic cliffs to the tranquil bay at King George Sound. In the interior, the peaks of the Stirling Range reach heights of more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and offer opportunities for day hikes with breathtaking views. 

During the 19th century, Albany played an important role as a center of shipping between Britain and its Australian colonies, as it was long the only deepwater port on the continent. It was through Albany that some 40,000 Anzac troops departed for Europe, an event that is being recognized through 2018 with a series of events marking the centennial of World War I.

The Whaling Station here, which did not cease operations until 1978, has been converted to a fascinating museum on the history of the industry. It has the distinction of being the last operating station in both the Southern Hemisphere and the English-speaking world. Humpback, southern right and blue whales continue to be pursued here, though now by curious sightseers on whale-watching cruises during the annual whale season from June to October.

Today, “Amazing Albany” earns the adjective the city has bestowed upon itself, as it draws travelers eager to explore an unexpected and amazing corner of Australia.