Driving to Albany, WA

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
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Trip End Mar 15, 2007


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Monday, November 20, 2006

I picked up the car and headed south out of Perth towards Albany.  Getting used to driving on the (to me) wrong side of the road again was interesting.  Every time I came around a corner I said to myself, "keep left, keep left, leep left". 

On the way I stopped at a Wool and Craft shop in the community of Williams set on the banks of the Williams River.  This is a charming little town rich in history. It was once a vital stopping place for visitors traveling between Albany and York, it was then later used as an important link in mail and telegraph communications between these two centers. Williams is situated in the timber, sheep and cereal grain growing region.
 
While visiting Williams, one can experience the sheep farming industry at the Williams Woolshed and can learn all about sheep farming and shearing and then have the opportunity to purchase some wool products from the wool retail outlet "The Wool Station of Williams". Primarily I stopped there to eat a meal (cheese/ham sandwich and salad) and it was a very good one at that.  It was filling, inexpensive and did not take much time. 
 
I also stopped at Kojunup which is a small town in the South West corner of Australia, surrounded by unique bush reserves, historical landmarks and significant sites.  I walked through the Rose Maze there.  The roses were well past their prime; however, the story of three women of the area was told through the history of the roses.  The history included an English woman, an Italian woman and an aboriginal woman.  The story starts out with the aboriginal woman in the area before settlement.  The story continues in diary format with the English family arriving and initially befriending the aboriginal people with societal values changing and the aboriginal woman becoming a servant to the English family.  The Italian woman and her family arrive and history progressing to the first war.  The English husband goes off to war and is killed at Gallipoli.  The Italians are sent off as enemy aliens.  The aboriginal woman's husband, I believe, turns to drink and her son gets into a fight and is killed.  The life of the Aboriginal family is pitiful.  All the women eventually pull together and through the second war and up to present day the story continues ending only with the deaths of all three women and their diaries or memories marking how far they have come since their lives began.  It was a very moving display. 
 
I went through the Kojunup museum with an Aboriginal guide by name of Jack Cox.  I believe he was formerly a light heavyweight boxer and sheep shearer.  One of the Aboriginal sites notes that he is famous for his storytelling, billy tea and damper and his knowledge of bush tucker and bush medicine. His vision is to promote his birth place, Kojonup to visitors. Jack is most at home in the bush and has planned a series of tours in local reserves where he shows visitors how the bush is used to provide shelter, food, recreation and health. He uses his unique story telling ability to share his bush knowledge with others. A tour with Jack is becoming a highlight for many visitors to Kojonup (it certainly was for me). His stories will be preserved for future generations to learn about the bush, the Great Southern Region and history. This will lead to sustainable economic development opportunities, increased responsibility and respect for Aboriginal Elders form their families and the wider community.  This is a simlar thing the First Nations peoples in my part of Canada are doing as well and Jack and I talked a bit about this. 
 
The Albany Youth Hostel is a very neat place to stay.  Very relaxed and clean.  The managers, Peter and Kathy were just super and knew a great deal about the area and where to go to find things (such as a photocopy machine, CD burning place, etc.  There were so many people of many different ages and from many different walks of life.   
 
I had dinner out at the Earl of Spencer Pub (www.earlofspencer.com.au).  An advert says "If old English style of Pubs is high on your agenda, you will need look no further than the Earl of Spencer in the centre of Albany; it is as good as you will see and enjoy any where, complete with English beer and great meals."  I looked at other places but kept returning to that one.  Meal and environment was as much like an English pub as I have seen outside of England. 
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