Out of town guide: Albany
In the heart of the southern state, along a beautiful stretch of rugged coastline, Albany is the heart of Western Australia’s Deep South region. The city, located about 450 kilometers from Perth, is known as a nature lover’s paradise, but also welcomes adventurers of a more gastronomic persuasion. Here’s where to eat, drink, stay and play in the area.
Amy Hamilton’s Parisian-inspired restaurant and bar, opened in 2014, is still going strong. In fact, it’s the best place to be on a Friday or Saturday night in Albany. Enter the front bar of the Old London Hotel to be transported to the turn of the 20th century. It’s not uncommon to find musicians – like a gypsy jazz quintet – hidden in a corner. Linger here for house cocktails like a green beret (tequila, cucumber juice, Vietnamese mint, and agave) or the smoked Roger Ramjet (mezcal, cynar, rum, lemon, toasted pear syrup and burnt orange). Or stroll through the Belle Epoque-style dining room to experience Hamilton’s Franco-Vietnamese cuisine, which showcases local produce in dishes such as marinated Albany sardines, mushroom congee, and shoulder braised lamb with tamarind and chipotle.
Opened just before the Covid hit last year, this charming, dimly lit bistro – run by owners Andrea Love and Johann Prins-Gurtel – has survived to become the new local favorite, with plush seats, white tablecloths and a sophisticated color palette. Michelin-trained chef Prins-Gurtel has devised a menu of traditional European bistro dishes, including tapas with local seafood and more hearty dishes like bouillabaisse, French onion soup infused with truffle, roast duck with orange and beef cheeks in a red wine juice. Plus, a panna cotta with gorgonzola and honey for dessert. Drinks include connoisseur whiskeys, cocktails, gin and a wide selection of local wines. Tip: Grab an aperitif and head to the upstairs balcony to watch the sunset over the ocean, or perch at the bar to soak up the action, including bartender Sam Champion at work.
With stunning views of King George Sound, Garrison is the restaurant and bar at the Princess Royal Fortress atop Mount Clarence, right next to the award-winning National Anzac Center. The venue is a cafe in the morning and turns into a fine restaurant in the evening, which often hosts special events such as the November five-course tasting by ex-chef Noma Ben Ing. Owner and Executive Chef John Saville Wright’s kitchen menu features two-way cold-smoked Akoya oysters (one served with lime and river mint dressing, the other with vinaigrette). with soy, ginger and mirin) as well as bao rolls, simmered beef cheek, steak and fries, and more. The bar offers a wide range of local, international and international wines and beers, as well as a growing list of cocktails.
Cie de race
Since 2017, Rhiannon Moon and her partner Sam Dawson have operated Bred Co, a small bakery selling exceptional sourdough at the weekly Saturday Albany Farmers Market. In 2020, the couple opened a brick and mortar site that allowed locals and visitors to mark great bread and baked goods on a daily rather than weekly basis. The display cases are filled with pastries (light butter croissants and lemon myrtle rolls), takeout sandwiches (continental rolls, for example, or egg sandwich) and sausage rolls (with toppings like pork and the pear). Delicate baguettes and nicely browned breads line the wall behind the counter. Most of the flour used in the bakery is ground on site from whole grains: a crucial detail that produces flour that is more nutritious and “alive” than pre-ground flour.
Great Southern Distilling Co
Cameron Syme’s flagship distillery sits firmly on the edge of Princes Royal Harbor. Exposed to the elements and overlooking the water, the distillery produces the full line of Limeburners single malt whiskey, including its heavily peated Darkest Winter, which won the award for the world’s best international whiskey at the 2017 American Distilling Institute awards. You will also find the cellar door and restaurant on site, where you can go for a flight and a bite to eat.
Wilson brewing co
Family-owned Wilson Brewing Co produces high-quality, unfiltered, unpasteurized, craft beer with a focus on local flavor. With a brewery and cellar open seven days a week, you can sample its award-winning range, including Rough Seas lager, Figurehead lager, Lost Sailor dark ale, and Dirty Oar dark ale.
Hilton Garden Inn Albany
This luxury hotel opened in November – the first Garden Inn in Australia – and the location couldn’t be better. It is located on the Albany Waterfront Marina and Foreshore, adjacent to the Albany Entertainment Center and a short walk from central York Street. Rooms have stunning ocean views, and the downstairs restaurant offers a hot buffet breakfast and dinner, a 24-hour take-out shop, and a do-it-yourself tea and coffee station. same. But the most notable feature is the sleek and bright bar overlooking the waterfront, which is sure to woo locals and visitors alike this summer.
Beach house in Bayside
It’s not hard to see why The Beach House at Bayside has won multiple tourism awards. Owners Sally and Craig Pullin provide true warmth and an authentic local experience, with the creation of a tailor-made stay to meet guest needs. Inspired by travels in Italy and France, the hotel has a Mediterranean-style courtyard and the 10 luxury rooms and suites exude a typical European atmosphere. Some are equipped with a spa accessible from the bathroom and the bedroom. Other luxuries include heated towel racks, high quality linens, an evening supply of chocolates and port from the local Wignalls Wines. Plus, homemade treats are delivered to your room daily.
When it comes to on-site catering, Sally’s close relationships with Albany producers and suppliers ensure fresh ingredients for hot, continental breakfasts, prepared on demand. As the name suggests, the hotel is a short walk from the famous Middleton Beach. Listen to the waves from your Juliet balcony or explore the coastal paths with a free hotel bike.
Hiking along a trail
Whether you are a serious hiker or an amateur, you will be spoiled for choice with the trails in the Albany region. Nearby Porongurup National Park is home to Australia’s oldest mountain range (over a billion years old). Climb Castle Rock to see the granite outcrop up close, or take in epic views of Karri and Marri Forest to the coast from the Granite Skywalk – the suspended walkway is considered a marvel of modern engineering. You can also travel an hour north to climb Washington State’s second highest peak, Bluff Knoll, which is part of the Stirling Range. Stirling Range National Park is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with over 1,500 species of flora. It’s also home to Mount Trio, where a walk and run to the top is a rewarding half-day hike.
For a coastal experience, hike the Bald Head Trail in Torndirrup National Park, with a moderately difficult 12.5 kilometer round trip taking in spectacular coastal scenery. For a more leisurely stroll, consider a trip to Little Beach, a locals favorite, in Two Peoples Bay Nature Preserve, which is a 40-minute drive from town. Park at the visitor’s center before following the Two Peoples Bay Heritage Trail to Little Beach and back. Be sure to stop for breakfast or lunch at the Little Beach Store, located in the Old Marron Farm.
Meet the local producers and producers
Start your weekend off on the right foot by heading to the Albany Farmers Market on Collie Street to meet local producers and stock up on products from the Deep South like raw and sustainable WA Bush Honey; natural yogurt from worksite 86; and premium dried fruits, grass-fed lamb, chutneys and jams from Gloria Dieu. First, though: grab coffee from Shot Callers Espresso’s converted horse cart (using beans from the award-winning local roaster Beck and Call) and a buttery treat (like a strawberry meringue croissant) from the Bred Co. The stand also sells pumpkin sourdough, acacia seed and potato pasta, Akoya oysters, and a riesling pie, so you’ll want to bring a few bags with you.
Connect to country
Take a tour of Kinjarling (Albany) and the surrounding area with a guide from native tour operator Kurrah Mia (meaning ‘home of the red tailed cockatoo’). While in the land of Menang Noongar, you will visit important cultural sites and learn about bush foods, medicines, artefacts and stories related to the land. Kurrah Mia also has an art gallery and shop in the city center, where you can shop for Aboriginal art, hand-painted maps, silk scarves, hats, bags and more.