Albany Heritage Park is a 260-hectare parkland reserve set in the heart of Albany, Western Australia. It surrounds the summits of Mount Clarence and Mount Adelaide, and stretches from the port of Albany to the shores of Middleton Beach. The park encompasses a unique blend of historical, cultural and natural attractions, beautiful wildflowers and granite formations, and Aboriginal and European cultural sites.
Mount Adelaide features:
- National Anzac Centre;
- Princess Royal Fortress;
- The Forts Store;
- A sculpture titled ‘Longing, Memory, Sight’
- Convoy Walk and Convoy Lookout;
- Garrison Restaurant and Bar;
- Carlyles Function Centre
Mount Clarence features:
- Apex Drive;
- Apex Lookout;
- Avenue of Honour;
- Desert Mounted Corps Memorial; and
- Padre White Lookout.
Other areas In the Albany Heritage Park include:
- Rotary Lookout;
- Plantagenet Battery;
- Ataturk Statue; and
- Point King Lighthouse.
The Princess Royal Fortress was the first defence post of Australia and was built in 1893. Access to the Princess Royal Fortress is free; with a range of the buildings open daily from 10am to 3pm. Volunteers also provide guided tours several times a day. Up to date tour times are promoted by staff daily.
Late in the 19th century authorities became concerned that Albany’s identity as a flourishing, strategic port left the town vulnerable to an attack from enemy forces. This potential threat to Australia's security prompted the building of Princess Royal Fortress which opened in 1893.
Each state’s government (except Tasmania’s) paid a proportion towards the building of the fortress, while the British Government supplied the armaments, which consisted of two concealed emplacements, featuring three, six-inch guns. The guns were maintained by a permanent garrison stationed at the fort from 1893 to 1956, and were never used to fire a shot in anger.
In 1956, with the advent of the missile era, Princess Royal Fortress was one of many Commonwealth coastal defence units made redundant. Many defences were demolished or dismantled, but the 11acre Albany complex continued on after decommission, firstly being used as a school, a migrant hostel then a holiday camp, until eventually becoming vacant in the 1970s and succumbing to vandalism.
A faithful restoration, based on the original 1893 complex began in 1987 and continued for many years.
The Princess Royal Fortress Today
The buildings of the Princess Royal Fortress now house a range of displays and collections including the Ellam-Innes collection, a Lighthorse Display, Our Noongar Service Display, and the HMAS Perth display.
Visitors can also enjoy a visit to the Underground Magazine and the artillery displays. The massive guns which guard the harbour have been meticulously restored and other intact artefacts include shore batteries, armouries, barracks, and a collection of naval guns and torpedoes.
The Princess Royal Fortress is also home to the United States Submariners’ Memorial and the Merchant Navy Memorial.
The Guard House
The Guard House is often the first area people visit when entering the precinct. Volunteers based at the Guard House can offer visitors site information and maps, general information on all aspects of the Albany Heritage Park, parking advice and guidance as well as general tourist information. The Guard House is also the starting point for the guided tours.
The Forts Store is the retail outlet for the Albany Heritage Park. It is located to the left of the entrance gates and is housed in the original Princess Royal Fortress Military Institute. The store is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 10am to 4pm. The Forts Store features local artwork, militaria, books, souvenirs and a wide range of locally produced products.
An artwork titled Longing, Memory, Sight ­by Arif Satar and Audrey Fernandes-Satar marks the beginning of the Convoy Walk. Inspired by a fragment of a letter a soldier sent to his loved one, it consists of an aluminium sculpture placed on top of a granite plinth. The plinth contains inscribed text obtained from original letters and postcards sent by Australian soldiers who departed in the 1914 Albany convoy to their loved ones during their deployment during the First World War.
The artwork was commissioned under the State Government’s Percent for Art Scheme as part of the Anzac Centenary commemorations, and was jointly funded by the WA Government and Wesfarmers.
Generously funded by Wesfarmers, and secured by the RSL, the Convoy Walk leads to the Convoy Lookout with stunning views over King George Sound where troops gathered on ships before departing for the First World War.
The walk features 21 markers containing information about the ships in the First and Second Convoys. This includes the names and images of the troopships and escorts, and where they embarked troops. The lookout includes a shelter and interpretive material relating to the vessels in the convoys.
Garrison Restaurant and Bar is located within Princess Royal Fortress precinct adjacent to the National Anzac Centre. It is a privately operated business offering coffee and cake from 10am daily, and a range of food and beverage opportunities for lunch and dinner. Bookings and enquiries should be directed to the operator on 9842 6654.
Carlyles Function Centre is located within the grounds of Princess Royal Fortress approximately 200m from the National Anzac Centre. It is a privately operated business. Carlyles is not open for daily trade and has variable hours to accommodate the needs of its clients. Bookings and enquiries should be directed to the operator on 0409 889 718.
“Apex Drive is named so not only because it reaches to the apex of the hill, but also because it was created by the Apex Club of Albany. Not alone. Not just a simple team of club members toiling away. It involved many, many more of the people of Albany who helped in a multitude of ways to see the drive built. Some by the donation of their skills. Some by making available their trucks, graders, bulldozers, earth-moving equipment and other road-making gear. Some by their professional skills and abilities and their organizational aptitudes. Co-ordination and team work were used to transform a bit of rocky scrub into one of the most pleasant scenic drives in Australia. The apex of co-operative endeavour.
And then came another, a different reason. It was to provide a place on which might be grown a living memorial to the men of Australia and New Zealand who set off from the waters below to fight for peace in the Great War which raged from 1914 to 1918.The last sight of Australia for a great many of them and therefore a fitting place for the Avenue of Honour and finally, and even more significantly, a place on which to re-erect the fine bronze statuary commemorating the Desert Mounted Corps which had once been erected at Port Said but was badly damaged in 1956”.
Taken from ‘Apex Drive, Avenue of Honour, Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, A Memorial and Tribute’ by David F Bird.
Beyond the Avenue of Honour and on the way up Apex Drive toward the Desert Corps Memorial lies the Apex Lookout.
The Avenue of Honour in Apex Drive was planted in 1955 to 1956 and replaced the original avenue planted in 1921 along Middleton Road. It honours those who fell in World War One, World War Two and the Korean War.
Large New South Wales Swamp Mahogany trees (Eucalyptus Robusta) line the Avenue of Honour on Apex Drive – the road to the top of Mount Clarence. At the base of each tree is the name of a soldier lost at war.
After the First World War, soldiers from Australia and New Zealand contributed one day’s pay to commission a monument to the fallen on the banks of Port Said in Egypt.
The statue, featuring two mounted soldiers, an Australian and a New Zealander, was toppled in 1956 during the Suez Crisis. After much lobbying, its remnants were returned to Australia.
The new Desert Mounted Corps Memorial was unveiled in 1964 and now stands proudly on the summit of Mount Clarence: site of the City’s Dawn Service, and a memorial to servicemen and women from all theatres of war.
Recent major upgrades ($5.88 million funded by the State Government) have doubled the crowd capacity for the Dawn Service to 4000, greatly improving the amenity and aesthetics of the area.
On 3 July 2015 the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial was declared a Military Memorial of National Significance by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson. Senator Ronaldson joined the Federal Member for O’Connor, Mr Rick Wilson MP, and the Mayor of the City of Albany, Cr Dennis Wellington, to make the announcement at the Memorial.
Padre White is a revered character in Albany’s history. From 1916 to 1918, he served as an army chaplain with the 44th Battalion and, upon his return to Australia, delivered sermons in remembrance of locals who lost their lives in the First World War.
At dawn on 25 April 1930, he led parishioners from St John’s Church to the summit of Mount Clarence, where an observance took place of a boatman laying a wreath in King George Sound. It is the recorded events of this day which mark the birth of the dawn service tradition in Albany.
Today the Padre White Lookout is the region’s most visited lookout and serves as an enduring place of reflection; a lasting monument to Ernest White and what many regard as Australia’s first Dawn Service.
Rotary Lookout overlooks the picturesque King George Sound. The elevated site offers uninterrupted panoramic views of the Sound, and is a popular whale-watching spot from May to November. Both humpback and southern right whales are often spotted close to the rocky shoreline directly below the lookout. This lookout also provides access down to the Ellen Cove Boardwalk, where you can view the Ataturk Statue.
Just off the Ellen Cove Boardwalk you will find the Plantagenet Battery. Albany was the first defended port in Western Australia. The initial military development consisted of two batteries, Princess Royal Battery on the crest of Mount Adelaide and Plantagenet Battery at Point King and was called the Federal Fortress. These batteries were designed to protect the harbour and town of Albany against raids from the sea, to provide a harbour refuge for shipping and to protect the port as a coaling base for Royal Navy vessels.
In a reciprocal agreement in 1985 the channel leading into Princess Harbour was officially named Ataturk Channel, whilst the Turkish Government officially named the beach at Gallipoli where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed “Anzac Cove”.
In 2002 a statue of Mustafa Kamal Atatürk was erected overlooking the Channel. Overlooking the Channel also bearing his name, the scenic boardwalk that leads from Albany to Middleton Beach is home to a life-sized statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the President of Turkey from 1923 to 1938.
Access to the memorial is from the beach side at Ellen Cove Boardwalk at Middleton or walking along Stirling Terrace from the central business district (a three kilometre trip one way).
Also accessible from the Ellen Cove Boardwalk, the Point King lighthouse is located on the north shore entrance to Princess Royal Harbour. It was the first navigational light for the port of Albany and the second lighthouse built on Western Australia’s coastline.
In 1857 the British Government offered to erect two lighthouses in Albany, one on Breaksea Island and the other on Point King, if the local government agreed to meet the running costs. The P&O Steamship Company and other passenger ships greatly appreciated the idea of these new lighthouses and so the construction went ahead. The prefabricated lights arrived on 9 June and the building started later that year.
The lights shone for the first time on 1 January 1858, with William Hill as the light keeper. These positions changed hands quickly, and with inexperienced light keepers, fell into disrepair. This was soon remedied when Samuel Mitchell was appointed to the position in 1867 and held it until 1903 when he was replaced by John Reddin. Reddin was the last resident light keeper because from July 1911 the Port Pilot Crew went and trimmed the light each night. In 1913 power was installed so it became automatic. It deteriorated rapidly until finally it ceased to work.