The Proposed Heritage Trail
The Frenchman Bay Association has developed a detailed plan for a circular heritage trail to run along the top of the escarpment at Whalers Beach, down a flight of stairs and on to the beach. The trail extends along the beach to meet another flight of stairs that would lead walkers to the top. Altogether the walk should take about 30 minutes for those who want a brisk walk and for those who want to study the interpretive signs or take in the scenery it may take a bit longer.
Why do we need this trail?
Visitors would be able to enjoy not only in the panoramic scenery but also the rich and largely unknown history of the location.
There are no signs to indicate the existence of the Vancouver Dam, the Norwegian Whaling Station, or wrecks that are visible from the shore. Nor is there any awareness that two centuries ago vessels from Britain, France, the United States, Norway and other European countries anchored here under the watchful eyes of Noongar men and women. What brought them to Whalers Beach were the safe anchorage and the fresh water springs that flowed onto the beach, even at the height of summer. For some years sailing and steam ships drew their water from the springs and in Albany’s early years residents themselves were dependent on these springs for the town water supply. There are many stories to be told about the fresh water springs and the people who were drawn to them. These can be found elsewhere on our website.
The signage we have in mind would describe:
- stories of the use of this place by the Noongar people and their early contact with Europeans;
- the critical importance of the fresh water springs to the seafarers Vancouver, Flinders, Baudin and the others who followed;
- the Vancouver Dam and jetty that were so important to the development of Albany;
- the quarantine camp on Mistaken Island;
- the Norwegian Whaling Station of which so little remains;
- the wrecks on the beach;
- the hostel popular with honeymooners in the 1940s;
- the history of the islands- some is colourful and some dark – seen from the escarpment; and
- the work of the early botanists, the visit of Charles Darwin and other scientists.
This location should become a major tourist destination. There are few sites along the Australian coast that have so much history concentrated into such a small geographical area. However, the rich history of this area is not well publicised and is in danger of being lost. We believe that there is the potential make this place a major destination for visitors from around Australia and overseas when they visit Albany.
Where are we up to? In 2014 the Frenchman Bay Association received a grant from Lotterywest which enabled us to engage H + H Architects to undertake a feasibility assessment for us. We also consulted widely with stakeholders. The feasibility study was completed in 2015 and the recommendations of the environmental consultants were taken into account. Quantity surveyors estimated the cost of the construction. We are now waiting for approvals from the key stakeholders to begin to approach potential funding bodies.
If we are successful this will be our second project in this area of Goode Beach. In 2002 the Frenchman Bay Association joined the City of Albany and the Water Department in constructing the trail leading from the Lookout on Vancouver Road that presently provides a panoramic view of Frenchman Bay.
If you like the idea of the Heritage Trail, send us an email!