Great Southern Attractions
To the east of the South West region, along the south coast, is the Great Southern region centered on Albany on the Southern Ocean, with magnificent coastal scenery and the fascinating hills of the Stirling Range.
Stirling Range National Park is famous for its rich diversity of plant-life, its colourful flowers and its fauna. The Park offers great opportunities for long walks through windings paths and nature trails.
Albany (pop. 16,320) is the oldest European settlement in Western Australia, founded in 1826 as a penal colony. It is the chief town in the Great Southern region and an important holiday and tourist center. The buildings erected by the early settlers give a remarkably English atmosphere.
Western Australian Museum Albany
The Western Australian Museum Albany (Albany Residency Museum) is housed in a mid-19th C building and has an interesting collection of material on the history of seafaring. Among the exhibits is a replica of the brig Amity, in which Major Lockyer brought the first convicts to Albany in 1826.
Patrick Taylor Cottage
The Patrick Taylor Cottage (c 1832) is Albany's oldest building and contains a museum on the history of the town.
The Old Farm on Strawberry Hill was built in 1836.
Address: Box 1458, Albany, WA 6331, Australia
Opening hours: Jul 1 to May 31: 10am-4pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $8.25, Adult $3.30, Pensioners (OAP) $2.20, Child $2.20
Useful tips: Closed for the month of June.
Old Gaol (Jail)
The Old Gaol (Jail) (1851) in Albany is a museum.
The old mailcoach station of Kojonup (pop. 1100) features a stone-built Old Barracks (c 1845) in Sewell Road, in a style very typical of the early years of the colony, with massive walls and chimneys and tiny windows, were originally built to house troops for the protection of the population against Aboriginal attacks. Later they served successively as a church, a school and a dwelling-house; they are now a museum.
Denmark (pop. 1220), a coastal town in the Great Southern/Rainbow Coast region, lies on the banks of the Denmark River and at the foot of Mount Shadforth (from which there are fine panoramic views). It is a town favored by artists and craft workers. There are good facilities for water sports and fishing, and on the banks of the river are attractive parks and recreation areas.
Roads of great scenic beauty run through the Valley of Giants with its tall karri trees and to the coastal national parks such as the Walpole-Nornalup National Park and William Bay National Park (14km west), which has excellent facilities for visitors (information kiosk at park entrance).
Mount Barker, Australia
Mount Barker lies in the Great Southern region. The area was explored at an early stage and the first settlers established themselves here in the 1830s.The old police station and jail (1868) is now a museum. There are fine panoramic views from the summit of Mount Barker (television tower).
Mount Barker is a good base for visits to Porongurup National Park and Stirling Range National Park, 80km northeast.
Porongurup National Park
2572ha.The Porongurup Range, a 12km long range of hills up to 670m high consisting mainly of granite, brings down abundant rainfall, and as a result huge karri trees (formerly common throughout the southwest) flourish at the higher altitudes. Lower down are jarrah and marri forests and expanses of meadowland (wild flowers).There are walking trails, starting from the picnic areas, to Millinup Pass (2 hours), Castle Rock (2 hours), Wansborough Walk (3 hours), Devil's Slide and Marmabup Rock (3 hours) and Hayward and Nancy Peak (4 hours). There are a number of crags which offer a challenge to climbers.
Address: 120 Albany Highway, Albany, WA 6330, Australia
Useful tips: Best time to visit: late spring and early summer (October-December), when the wild flowers are in brilliant bloom; autumn for walking. Access from Mount Barker or Albany on Chester Pass Road (via Porongurup). Camping is not permitted in the park. Warning: In the summer there are large numbers of snakes.
Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features Denham, with beautiful beaches and Monkey Mia, where visitors can feed the dolphins.
The great tourist attraction in Shark Bay is the dolphins of Monkey Mia, which have become accustomed to being fed by visitors. They began to get accustomed to human beings in the 1960s, when fishermen starting throwing the remains of their catch into the sea.
Denham (pop. 1120) is the most westerly town on the Australian continent and the most important place in Shark Bay. Of the beautiful beaches round the town perhaps the finest is Shell Beach, formed of innumerable tiny shells.