As we are Travelling Western Australia, we explored Albany and the National Anzac Centre. The museum and memorial are dedicated to Australian and New Zealand soldiers who served in World War I. Whether you're a military history buff or just interested in learning more about this significant moment in Australian and New Zealand history, the National Anzac Centre is well worth a visit.
Our day today started with all the serenity you would imagine at a beautiful seaside community in an exceptional bay. The community is Albany and the bay is Frenchman Bay. Overlooking the deep water channel into the port is the National Anzac Museum situated high up on Mt Clarence at the original site of the Princess Royal Fortress which is one of only two pre-federation fortresses established to protect the early trade routes into Australia. This day of serenity I speak about was not always the case here in Albany and it should be noted that this community is steeped in a rich history that has been at times turbulent and hectic.
Albany was the destination and departure point for more than 41,000 troops, horses and equipment from Australia and New Zealand bound for WW1 and Gallipoli on 38 ships. Most of these troops had never left our shores and many would never return but would be immortalized in the military history of Australia and New Zealand as ANZACS.
The National Anzac Centre has been established to document, display and follow the paths of these 41,265 troops as you make your way through this truly remarkable centre. Tickets are $25 or with a concession of $21 and this will admit you to the path of one random Anzac as you pick a name and interactively follow his or her story through this horrendous time of war. The technology used and the interactive equipment is without a doubt amongst the very best we have seen and this museum is not to be missed if you pass through this area.
Walking into the memorial room will be a deeply moving experience. A moving display lists the names of every person, nearly 42 thousand, scrolls endlessly, taking eleven days from start to finish. A poignant reminder of those who gave their lives.
Although there is an emphasis on the Anzac story at the centre, one of the original buildings of the Princess Royal Fortress is also home to a wonderful display of stories and items about the famed Rats of Tobruk. Other original buildings are opened for public display and the walks and trails are dotted with history and artifacts from the Fortresses' heyday along with guns and gun placements, Lookouts and observation points that guard the beautiful coastline.
There are monuments for all types of military achievements none better than the monument to the Desert Mounted Corps atop Mt Clarence. This is an impressive memorial commemorating those who fought at Gallipoli during WWI.
After you have finished the museums and memorials a visit to the Fortress Store should be on your agenda to peruse the well-stocked military memorabilia.
We headed then to the Garrison café and restaurant for a coffee and a light snack while we enjoyed the view and talked about what we had just experienced. This morning for myself as a former serviceman and also for Jennifer as a patriotic educator was quite emotional and is a must for all who believe as I do that:
“What we do for ourselves alone dies with us. But what we do for our families, our mates, our country and our world remains forever and makes us immortal”
Location: 67 Forts Road, Mount Clarence, Albany
Phone: 08 6820 3500
Opening hours: Every day except Christmas Day – 9am-5pm
Cost: $25, concession $21
Continuing our journey Travelling Western Australia
As we continue our journey travelling Western Australia, it’s impossible not to be amazed by the historical significance of the area of Albany. Don't miss this town, you will learn so much about Australia's history.