Albany Heritage Park is a must-do in the Great Southern. It is home to a number of interactive and learning experiences including the fantastic National Anzac Centre.
Opened in 2014, the Centre is a well-designed building in a magnificent setting overlooking King George Sound. It is within the heritage listed Princess Royal Fortress – one of two pre-Federation fortresses built to protect intercontinental trade routes.
Having attended many ANZAC Day services in Australia and New Zealand, it was quite a humbling experience to arrive at the actual place where the ships sailed taking so many young men and women to World War 1.
Visitors to the Centre are supplied with a recording, earphones and given a card that allows them to temporarily assume the identity of an ANZAC, which immediately creates a connection. Cards are tapped on various posts dotted around the Centre and details of ‘your’ Anzac’s campaign are shown on the screen.
‘My’ ANZAC was Trooper Charles Livingstone of the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment. Trooper Livingstone was born in Fremantle and served in Gallipoli and Palestine where he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. He died at age 93 leaving four children, fourteen grandchildren and 24 great children. It was fascinating to follow Trooper Livingstone’s campaign and to read of his after-war experiences. A lady next to me, at one of the posts, became quite emotional on learning that ‘her’ Anzac had died at Gallipoli.
One of the most stunning items in the Centre is the life-sized, copper sculpture that shows a digger giving his horse a drink. Anzac Spirit was created by local artist Brad Lucas and donated to the Centre by Albany born, Perth businesswoman Rhonda Peploe.
There is so much to see in the Centre that it would be very easy to spend a couple of hours being immersed in the history of the Anzacs.
Although the 260-hectare Heritage Park has the Anzac Centre at its heart, there is so much more to discover including the Garrison Barracks, HMAS Perth Museum and Interpretive Centre and gun emplacements.
We chose to do the Convoy Walk, which connects the Princess Royal Fortress to the Convoy Lookout at the summit of Mt Adelaide. This involves a short uphill walk punctuated by large signs showing detailed information about the Anzac convoys. The lookout itself has great views over King George Sound. Near the lookout is a short trail leading to the gun emplacements. A golf buggy and driver will happily take those with mobility issues to the top of the Convoy Walk. Guided tours of the fortress are also available.
On-site restaurant Garrisons opens 11:30 to 2:30 for lunch and 5:30 until late for dinner. It also opens for breakfast at the weekend. It seems a pity that there is nowhere to have a cup of coffee or tea for morning or late afternoon visitors.
As well as being a great resource for schools, the National Anzac Centre is an excellent tribute to the Australians and New Zealanders who fought in the First World War. Everybody should visit at least once.
Address: 67 Forts Road, Mount Clarence, Albany
Phone: 08 6820 3500
Opening hours: Every day except Christmas Day – 9am-5pm
Cost: $25, concession $21 available at the Forts Store
Restrooms: Clean and accessible inside the National Anzac Centre
Parking: Large car park at the Princess Royal Fortress
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