Today is ANZAC Day, and where better to share the event, than in Albany. Celebrated on the 25th of April each year, it is a day where Aussies and Kiwis (hence the name ANZAC) remember the sacrifice of those who courageously fought for their countries in World War I.
Over 400,000 Aussies went to war, about 30,000 of them departing the shores of Australia from Albany’s King George Sound. 60,000 never returned home and another 150,000 were wounded, gassed or captured and taken prisoner.
It’s a day where we all stop our busy lives to remember those lives that were changed forever by war.
The crowd in Albany was intimate, the parade not overly long, but nonetheless moving. Old timers, rapidly dwindling in number, waved shakily at the crowd. School kids and grandchildren marched proudly in honour of their grandparents. It was a sobering start to the day.
After the parade and while the rest of town was partaking of the following service, we headed for the National ANZAC Centre. It was a move that paid off as we got to see most of the exhibit in relative quiet, before the crowds arrived.
The National ANZAC Centre overlooks King George Sound. It’s worth the visit to read the story of our wartime history. Tickets are $25 and include an audio guide. You will also be given an identity card so you can track the fate of a particular soldier which is pretty cool.
On the grounds of the National ANZAC Centre is a great walk full of wartime relics towards a lookout and yet another brilliant view of the waters around Albany.
A pathway leads to a lookout where can enjoy even more impressive views of King George Sound.
After visiting the National ANZAC Centre, we stoped for a bite of lunch at the on-site restaurant Garrison. The decor inside was incredibly cool, but we choose to enjoy the sunshine outside. A light hummus and a glass of wine overlooking King George Sound was a glorious way to spend time.
Oh, and if course we shared a couple of obligatory ANZAC biscuits. Wanna try making ANZAC biscuits for yourself? Grab the recipe here!
For the remainder of the afternoon, we kept to the coast to see some of the natural wonders that Albany is known for. Scattered throughout the Torndirrup National Park, are a number of natural wonders, starting with the Gap and Natural Bridge.
Well integrated walkways and platforms lay atop these monstrous granite rocks and allow visitors to gasp at ‘the gap’ as the surging waves below crash against the rocks time and time again. What better way to gain an understanding of the ferocity of the sea.
The Natural Bridge was formed by the gradual wearing of the rock, from years of the waves of the Great Southern Ocean crashing over it.
You should note the signs warning you to stay on the allocated pathways and not scramble further to explore the rocks below, as many a life has been lost here. One such story is told on a signboard at the site, but there are many other, and sadly quite recent events. Despite this, even today there are a couple of young lads taking a risk by ignoring the barriers and skylarking dangerously close to the edge of the rocks.
Next on our list was the Blowholes. The rocks of the Blowholes were formed 1800 million years ago. Over that time crevices have formed where the granite has been eroded and as a result, whenever the waves crash against them, water sprays up through the crevices causing a burst of spray accompanied by a whooshing sound.
Before you can even find out whether the blowholes are visible you must descend hundreds of steps to the shore below the carpark. Not hard work in itself, but you do have to come back up!
Unfortunately the waves were not big enough to activate the Blowholes today, but the scenery was rugged and stunning nonetheless.
The afternoon was coming over cool now, with spots of rain peppering the ground. It had been another long but enjoyable day of sightseeing, but we were ready to go back to our unit; we still had Western Australia’s best fish and chips to try out!