Discover Albany, one of the most beautiful coastal destinations in Western Australia with a temperate climate, spectacular coastline, and abundance of wildlife, by taking a scenic walk along one of the many walking trails.
For those looking for a comfortable walk close to good amenities, the 3km boardwalk at Middleton beach is a good starting point. This walk follows an undulating bitumen coastal route from Ellencove to Albany Port, giving walkers superb views across the Sound to Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands. This is also a favourite vantage point to watch frolicking whales in season. The first half of this walk is easy and suitable for young families with strollers, but the remainder may provide more of a workout, especially for little feet. There are numerous lookouts and seating along the pathway if you need to rest your feet, and you will see large black skinks and numerous birds as they dart through the dense scrub around you. The Middleton Beach boardwalk is close to picnic and playground facilities.
Albany Wind Farm, which overlooks the ocean 12km out of town on Sandpatch Road, is another tourist hotspot. Surrounded by a colourful display of wildflowers and coastal heath, you can take a leisurely 1km stroll along the boardwalk and gravel paths, stopping at the various lookouts to soak in the spectacular views across West Cape Howe – Western Australia’s southern-most point. Adding to the ambience are the 12 white 65m high wind turbines that sprout from the landscape sweeping their 35m blades overhead. You’ll find the whooshing sound of the turning blades quite surreal.
The keen walker wanting more of a challenge should continue west along the boardwalk at the wind farm to the Sand Patch and on to Mutton Bird trail, which is part of the Bibbulmun Track. This 14km, one-way trail would take the regular bush walker about six hours to complete, however we recommend you allow yourself extra time, as the coastline here is so magnificent you’re sure to want to linger and take in the uninterrupted views of Sandpatch Cliffs, Eclipse Island, Green Island, Torbay and West Cape Howe. The trail becomes sandy as you progress and work your way through the natural bush, and the ever-changing scenery will provide many photo opportunities, so don’t forget to take your camera. If you want to make this an overnight trip, 5km down the track there’s a campsite with a shelter on the beach that sleeps up to 15 people.
If you wish to stay overnight in any of the campsites along the Albany walking trails, or plan on undertaking a long journey in one of the National Parks, you should contact the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) office in Albany. CALM officers will have the most up-to-date information on track conditions and offer other advice that can be helpful when planning your trip.
Regardless of the trail, it is important to wear sturdy enclosed footwear and appropriate clothing, and don’t forget your sunscreen and hat, as the sun’s intensity can be deceiving during spring and early summer. Before heading out, especially on long or remote walks, ensure you have plenty of water and to let someone know where you’re going and what time you will return.
Although beautiful, the southern coastline can be dangerous and walkers should stay on the trail and heed any warning signs. Even on calm days, you need to be on the lookout for sudden swells and weather changes, and rocks underfoot can be slippery or crumble.
To help you get started, #Walking Naturally in Albany is a useful guide with 20 of the most popular walk trails within 30 minutes drive from the city’s centre. It provides maps, information on the length, walk time, facilities and special features of the trail, as well as the degree of difficulty, so that you can make an informed decision before you head out. The guide is available from the Albany Visitor Centre and various tourism operators in Albany. Call the Visitor centre on (08) 9841 1088 for more information.