History of Albany

Aboriginal History

Before European settlement, the Albany region was inhabited by the Menang Noongar people, custodians of this area for thousands of years. 

The area is called Kinjarling, which means "The place of rain". Evidence of the Aboriginal presence in the area dates back about 25,000 years. 

Learn about Mokare, a peacekeeper ahead of his time, speaking Noogar/Menang, French and English. He was instrumental in creating open and friendly relations with the new settlers, educating and guiding them through the country.

Visit places of significance to the Menang people

  • Yakka/Boya (Dog Rock)
  • Mammang Koort (Princess Royal Harbour)
  • Coondarup (Apex Lookout Mount Clarence)
  • Binalup (Middleton Beach)
  • Barmup (Strawberry Hill Farm)
  • Tjurtjellong (Lake Seppings)
  • Yoorl Park
  • Oyster Harbour Fish Traps
  • Upper Kalgan
  • Whalers Cove

Early European Exploration

The first known European sighting of what was to become the Albany region is attributed to Peter Nuyts from the Gulden Zeepaard in 1627. In 1791, George Vancouver and his party claimed New Holland (which later became known as Western Australia) as a British possession and named King George III Sound.

After Vancouver's visit, there were several French expeditions to the area led by

D’Entrecasteaux, Baudin, Freycinet and Dumont D’Urville. These were paralleled by a range of British expeditions and voyages, most notable of which were probably those of Charles Darwin in the Beagle and Matthew Flinders in the Investigator.

In 1826 Major Edmund Lockyer arrived abroad the Brig Amity to establish the first settlement in Western Australia. On 27 January 1827, a ceremony was held celebrating the founding of the settlement. 

In 1832 the Governor of the Swan River Colony, Sir James Stirling, visited the settlement. With the possibility of moving the Western Australian Capital to King George Sound, he renamed the town Albany after the Duke of York and Albany.

Albany became an important port for ships travelling from Europe to the Eastern States and for people travelling to the West Australian gold rush. By 1898 500 passengers a week were disembarking in Albany from the Eastern States.

Due to King George Sounds strategic importance and the threat of war between Russian and Britain in the mid-1880s, an agreement was reached in 1889-1890 to build a defensive position in Albany. The position was completed by 1892.

Replica of the Brig Amity

The Brig reached Princess Royal Harbour on Christmas Day 1826, but no one was put ashore until the following day. The settlement party comprised 23 convicts (mostly tradesmen), 18 rank and file soldiers, a sergeant, a captain, a surgeon, a storekeeper and the commander Major Edmund Lockyer, with stores for six months (including sheep and pigs).

Lockyer named the site Frederickstown after His Royal Highness, Duke of York and Albany, Frederick Augustus – second son of King George III. This was the site of the first European settlement in Western Australia. In 1831, Governor Stirling visited the Sound and changed the settlement's name from Frederickstown to one of the Prince's ducal titles – Albany.

ANZAC Connection

Albany is well known for being the departure point of two troop convoys bound for the first world war, the first on 1 December 1914 and the second in late December 1914. Australian troops sailed from Albany on a voyage via Egypt to Gallipoli, where they landed on 25 April 1915. Many soldiers' last glimpse of Australia was at the start of that voyage as the hills of Albany faded into the distance.  

Their service to their country was recognised on 25 April 1923, in Albany, at the nation's first Anzac Day dawn service, the start of a tradition that is becoming dear to the hearts of all Australians.

Albany is now the home of the National ANZAC Centre, which opened on 1 November 2014. The centre honours the ANZACs of the First World War.

Whaling

Whaling was a mainstay of the town for many years, but on n the evening of 21 November 1978, the Cheynes II, Cheynes III and Cheynes IV berthed at the Albany Town Jetty after their last whale hunt. The last shore-based whaling station in Australia closed, and 178 years of whaling in Albany waters ended. It was eventually converted into Albany's Historic Whaling Station, now a major tourist drawcard.

The whale season is from June to October. You can see the magnificent Humpback and Southern Right whales cruising along the Albany coastline with their calves before heading to the cooler Antarctic waters.