I love the great southwestern region of Australia. There is something so magical, mystical, and poetic about the moody weather, the breath-taking landscapes, and the old facades of the buildings that make Albany a very special place to me. The five hour drive keeps me from heading down as often as I like, but helps Albany to remain a unique escape from the urban sprawl that is Perth. Easter long-weekend meant that it was the perfect time to retreat to a slower pace, cooler weather, and picturesque scenery… not to mention, a great excuse for blog post number TWO!
Much like (what seemed to be) half of Perth, we hit the road Thursday night to arrive into a booked to maximum capacity Albany (I checked the day before, nearly every hotel and Airbnb was booked to no vacancy). Crawling into the sleepy town at nine thirty on the eve of Good Friday we had but one option and that was to check in to our hotel. We stayed at the Albany Apartments. The rooms were simple but clean, highly affordable, and we had more than everything we needed. Heather, the owner and manager of the complex was so accommodating, easy to correspond with, and very friendly. I would stay there again for her excellent customer service alone!
Good Friday is not a public holiday in America, so its still an adjustment for me to see most of the country shut down. Being a major tourist weekend for Albany, a surprising majority of the shops and restaurants were still open. But the weather was rather perfect, so after a delicious mocha and tea togo from Kate’s Place (with the cutest takeaway cups ever) we decided to spend this day out doors and wondered the fifteen minute or so drive out of town along Frenchman Bay to explore the Albany Wind Farm. The hum of the eighteen turbines and the sheer size of them is captivating enough, but what really draws me to this place is the breathtaking panoramic views of the Australian coastline. I’m not sure how these turbines scored such amazing real estate? But I’m jealous. We walked along the trails, shaking hands with the native plants, and singing songs with the buzzing bees, to find the highest look out for the perfect photo. We weren’t the only ones that took advantage of the beautiful weather. Although the car park was full, there were enough trails in this widespread park to prevent it from feeling busy.
We continued our trek through the wind farm and wondered along a bit of Western Australia’s great Bibbulmun Track. I love skipping down the boardwalk, wind blowing through my hair, overlooking a coastline of aqua waves crashing along the emerald cliff faces. Yes, this could be one of my “happy places”. We made our way to the Sandpatch Steps. I began slowly retreating, as Ryan suggested we climb down the FIVE HUNDRED or so steps to explore the shoreline. Sigh… there would be no talking him out of this. My issue was not in going down the steps, it's just that we will have to eventually go back up them.
After a series of photos and pep talks we wandered down to the beach below. Playing on the sand and rocks left us with some beautiful memories and equally as gorgeous photos, but growling bellies caused us to face the mountain of stairs back to the carpark. Ryan RAN up the whole thing! I can’t tell if I was exhausted from climbing the steps or just watching him fly up them/ By the end my legs felt like they were on fire and my lungs were going to explode through my chest but, I survived. It was definitely worth seeing (and if you’re feeling brave, worth doing).
The Lavender Cottage comes highly recommended on both Zomato and Tripadvisor, so we knew we wanted to include it in our blog. The cottage is only open for dinner on friday nights (open for lunch throughout the week) so I called to make a booking and managed to grab the last table. I adore little houses that have been turned into shops or restaurants with their cozy, welcoming vibe, and the Lavender Cottage is no exception, with its dim lighting and eclectic style. The dinner menu comes at two prices: $75.90 for two courses of $85.90 for three courses, with BYO only. After a long day of treking, we had worked up quite an appetite, so we each decided on the three course option. Upon ordering, we received a beautifully presented pastry of smoked salmon and avocado along with soft and delicious homemade bread.
For entree, Ryan ordered Coquille Saint Jacques (or scallops four ways). He enjoyed the four different options, but especially enjoyed the scallop bisque and the seared scallops with apple puree. I ordered Charcuterie Maison (or assortment of terrines and pate). I am not well versed in the culinary decadence that is terrines and pates but the portion of this entree was quite large. The homemade pate had the most beautiful creamy texture and full of flavour. The terrines were lovely, however I couldn’t help thinking that they reminded me of cold meatloaf; I guess terrines aren’t my cup of tea. Both entrees arrived beautifully presented.
Prior to the arrival of the Main, we received a delicious palette cleanser of lemon sorbet. (Insert Ryan’s witty humour, “I’m pretty sure its pronounced sorbet. The ’T' isn’t silent"). For a main, Ryan ordered the Poisson du Jour (or fresh local groper with Tasmanian salmon) on account of it being Good Friday. He preferred the salmon and enjoyed the pesto risotto that accompanied the fish. I ordered the Duo de boeuf (or prosciutto wrapped beef filet with braised beef cheek). The filet was cooked perfectly medium rare and the braised beef cheek was super tender with an excellent hint of wine. The mains were a beautiful display of two varieties of our chosen meats.
For dessert Ryan ordered the Sticky Apricot and Golden Syrup Pudding. While he was eating it he keeping repeating “I’m full” just as he would stuff another bite in his mouth. I think that speaks for itself. I ordered the Mix Berry and Apple Crumble served with cream and ice cream. It was a lovely tangy finish to the rich and filling dinner. We couldn’t leave without purchasing a sample of homemade cookies that we enjoyed over the next couple of days.
The windmill farm is always a "must stop" for me, when visiting Albany. It's easy to stay as long or as little as you like, with free entry and parking, I recommend visiting for the scenery alone. I love just letting the wind blow all around me, the turbines buzzing in the background, and the crash of the waves on the shore. The skyline seems to stretch for miles and it's easy to lose track of time wandering along the trails. As for dinner, the Lavender Cottage was a nice treat. It was our "fancy" night out in Albany. We opted on the three course meal, which was a rather large amount of food. I would have been perfectly happy with two courses, since portions are quite large. It's definitely not a place to go in a hurry, but the staff is lovely and the ambience makes you feel right at home anyway.
I was at the end of a nasty flu when we got to Albany, so the time to rest and chill out was really what I needed. The place is so peaceful and relaxing, making down time very easy to do. Unless you decide to go trekking... like we did. The wind farm was quite awesome to see however, and all the steps along the trail tired me out for the day so I would truly rest. Our dinner out that night, we decided to be a bit fancy again, and opted for a relatively authentic French dining experience. Delicious and filling with friendly service. The wait times were a little longer than I expected, but being as exhausted as I was I was pretty content on just chilling in my chair and chatting to Jess.