WA’s first colonial settlement is spectacular at any time of year

Middleton Beach Jetty
Middleton Beach Jetty

Josh Shuttleworth is in the vanguard, bringing new blood to holiday parks. He couldn’t be on more pioneering turf, Middleton Beach. Albany, after all, is Western Australia’s first colonial settlement after Aborigines roamed their lands here for tens of thousands of years.

Whales have been wallowing, resting and birthing in King George Sound for countless centuries, and are still sighted in season from Middleton Beach.

Early-era sailing ships and whalers from the other side of the world anchored here, protected by coastal headlands and large islands swarming with seals and nesting birds.

Off Middleton Beach are Michaelmas and Breaksea islands, both nature reserves. In the cold, dark depths off Michaelmas Island is the wreck of whaler Cheynes 111, one of many local signposts to this region’s colourful past.

Middleton Beach has a life all its own. 

Tourists staying at Big 4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park, flicking through their historical brochures, discover myriad nuggets to explore in this Southern Ocean region.

Old faithful camping grounds have mostly been moved out, taken over by upmarket villas and the like. 

A patch of sand or even a strip of rough grass for a tent site would satisfy the camper and caravanner of our parents’ era. Not anymore. Camp sites and holiday parks all over Australia have moved decidedly upmarket. Others, as in Dunsborough, have been developed but local councils have moved the camp spaces away from the expensive coastline.

Josh Shuttleworth
Josh Shuttleworth of Middleton Beach

Middleton Beach Holiday Park is a proud survivor, tucked against sandhills, occupying a generous 500 metre site, modern and comfortable for seniors to juniors. Ideal for a couple of days away with the grandkids.

“We believe in the park and we are reinvesting everything back into it,” proprietor Josh told me.

Beach houses and villas that sleep up to eight have everything at the touch of a button, Caravans have brick en suites. There are general van and tent sites and swish camp kitchens, barbecues and outdoor seating.

Even if the weather turns, the kids have access to a solar-heated pool, indoor hydro spa and surround-sound mini theatre plus a games room. The play equipment is enormous.

Olde world prices will, of course, never come back but we get what we pay for. A comfortable bed, a full-size fridge for the freshly-bought produce – local veggies, fruit, honey, meat, seafood and chocolate. 

Can we stay a few more days?

On this spectacular coastline, the holiday park is only 3.2 kms from town centre. It’s really a city but looks and feel like a premier, coastal town. History buffs can view the Albany History Collection at 44 Frederick Street.

As we look out, we see those majestic, rounded islands. A ship is anchored in the calm.

These great ocean bays are alive with great whites and other sharks, dolphins, deep sea fish, muscles and oysters. Whales are sighted, both when heading north for birthing and when going south, followed by calves and tailed by predator orcas and sharks.

Sometimes a dominant whale will loudly whack the waters far out, the sign for younger whales nearer shore to cease wallowing and join the north-bound pods.

From the park is a long stroll or energetic jog along the beach to Emu Point.

Further inland, Lake Seppings has amazing bird life and long neck turtles, viewed from a bird-hide.

A boardwalk wraps around Mt Adelaide to provide walkers with some of Western Australia’s best ocean views.

Islands, whales, birdlife and ships are all sighted in the vista across Atatürk Entrance (Mustafa Kamal Atatürk being the former, respected Turkish leader and hero of Gallipoli).

For the disabled or walking wounded tourist, this steadily-rising 6km walk can be tackled from the other end by driving around Mt Adelaide and parking in one of the bays before walking back, down the incline. Highly-recommended, but of course, someone will have to collect the car.

Still awaiting in Albany: The mighty harbour, Gap, Blow Hole, Natural Bridge, wind farm, granite hills, Dog Rock, Porongorups, Castle Rock, Two Peoples Bay, Stirling Ranges, Whale World, Anzac Centre…

We’ll need more time. Rug-up and visit off-season. Visit the website www.holidayalbany.com.au