Just when you think you’ve seen all Australia could possibly have to offer, you find another spot begging for exploration. Albany is that spot. We had never been in the Southwest corner of Australia—at least not this far into it. The coast line is absolutely fantastic. Rugged cliffs mix with serene sandy beaches where the surf leaves its foamy footprint.
I fell in love the moment we entered the harbor. Little islands of green dotted the harbor entrance as the sun lazily made its morning climb. We had an early excursion and were on the road by 8:45 AM. Looking out across the bay was a bit like déjà vu. The way the sun shone silvery through the early morning haze was much like the scenes from the New Zealand sounds.
We had been told a week prior that the excursion would not include the wind farm as promised because of road construction but we were delighted to hear that we were on our way there. They must have made progress or else felt safe in letting us travel over the area of road that was mostly red dirt now. If it had rained, I think the wind farm would have stayed canceled.
We’ve been to windfarms before so that wasn’t as attractive to us as the lookouts along the trail that ran in between the softly whispering giants. Not a lot of wind this day but a welcome gentle breeze. The sun had pretty much burned off the morning haze and now we could see it shimmering off blue and turquoise waters below us.
Our guide told us that there was the chance of seeing some skinks (lizards) and perhaps other critters—maybe even a python that seem to have taken up residence. Lizards, okay. Snakes, no. I watched my step. We made it back to the bus without any encounters.
Next stop, Stony Hill. It lived up to its name. It was a huge hill of stone that had been lifted by shifting plates in the earth. No danger of volcanoes here, our guide said, just earthquakes. Again it was a fantastic lookout point with no lizards and thankfully no snakes.
We did have a question of ours answered by a sign in the Torndirrup National Park. The unusual flowers we’d seen on some trees are called banksia. When I first saw a bloom, I thought someone had stuck a corn cop on the tree. The sign said something about honey but I’ll have to do a little more research on that one. That’s the other great thing about revisiting places at different times of the year. You see things blooming or in different stages in a life cycle. We’d never seen the banksia before.
A bit ahead of schedule, our bus driver took it slower as we passed by several fields where we could see kangaroos in the distance under the shade of a tree. One even got up and hopped a bit to the delight of many on the bus.
We criss-crossed the town and drove up to the ANZAC memorial on the top of the far hill on the other side of town. The memorial was in honor of those who fought in WWI from Australia and New Zealand. The original monument was in Port Said, Egypt, but in 1956 during the Suez crisis, a crowd attacked the monument and tore it down. The pieces were sent to Australia and an artist created a new statue based on the original. It was decided to place the monument in Albany since it was the port where the corps left and those remaining returned.
Again, the views from the top were great. And I happened upon a plant I recognized. I’ve never seen it growing naturally. I knew it from my days as a florist. The plant is called kangaroo paws or at least that is the name I knew it by. It’s always fun to find flowers I used back then growing in the places we visit.
One more stop, unscheduled but since we’d not taken as much time as allotted, the bus driver treated us to a stop at an old fort that must have been part of the fortification of the area during the great wars since there were bunkers built into the hillside and several examples of huge artillery. We walked off the beaten path a bit to take a side trail that showed example of defensive equipment and bunkers and happened upon a skink, two actually. When we got closer, we saw the second. No pythons though. Whew!
A quick ride through town and we were back at the ship. There was still time to take a shuttle into town (a ten minute ride) but we decided to try the pizza out on board ship now that we’d found it. Oh, there I go talking about food again. It was great pizza and after a little nap, I was ready to take up my spot on the back of the Lido Deck and do a little writing before our ship headed out into the open water again.
We bid goodbye to Albany. Well, not really goodbye but more like “See ya’ again sometime!”