Established shortly before Perth in 1826, the oldest European settlement in the state is now the bustling commercial centre of the southern region. Albany is a mixed bag comprising a stately and genteel decaying colonial quarter, a waterfront in the midst of sophisticated redevelopment and a hectic sprawl of malls and fast-food joints. Less ambivalent is its spectacular coastline, from Torndirrup National Park's surf-pummelled cliffs to Middleton Beach's white sands, and the calm waters of King George Sound.
The town is in an area that's seen the violence of weather and whaling. Whales are still a part of the Albany experience, but these days are hunted through a camera lens.
The Bibbulmun Track ends (or starts) here, just outside the visitor centre; the exhausted and/or exuberant comments in the walkers' log books make great reading.