In 1826, two years before the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the British sent Major Lockyer and a team of hopeful colonists to settle Albany's strategic harbour where they built the Princess Royal Fortress. It was a hasty pre-emptive response to French exploration of Australia's Southwest, and the small colony, originally called Fredrickstown, was allowed to grow at a natural pace – thus avoiding the vicissitudes of "Swan River Mania" that plagued Perth in the 1880s, when thousands of starry-eyed settlers poured into the riverside shanty town. Prior to the establishment of Fremantle Harbour in the 1890s, ALBANY's huge natural harbour was a key port on the route between England and Botany Bay: a coaling station in the age of steamers. It was also the last of Australia that many Anzacs saw on their way to Gallipoli in 1914.
Now serving the southern farming belt, Albany has also become one of the Southwest's main holiday areas. Factors such as proximity to Perth, moderate summer temperatures, a surfeit of natural splendour and historical kudos all combine to make an agreeable and genuine destination, largely bereft of bogus tourist traps.