MONDAY 17 MAY ALBANY
It was another day of rain.
We don’t seem to have much luck, visiting Albany. Our other time here, in ’93, we had major storms and wet weather, to the extent we had to abandon the tent and hire a cabin for the duration of that stay!
After breakfast, drove to the Tourist Information Centre. Followed the coastline around, through Middleton Beach. The drive around the headlands into town was very scenic, much of it through coastal bush land, interspersed with outlooks over the bays and islands. I hadn’t realized there were so many little islands off Albany. Last time we were here, we couldn’t even see the harbour. Now, we discovered, it was lovely.
After collecting some information about the region, and some about parts further afield, we went off to look at the full sized replica of the brig “Amity”.
In 1826, this vessel brought the first settling party from Sydney, to establish a settlement at King George Sound – in case the French had ideas of so doing!
Being able to walk around inside the ship was fascinating – it was so small! It gave a really good idea of the difficult conditions of so many voyages of those times.
We drove past the Dog Rock – an outcrop beside one of the main roads. It really did look like the head of a Labrador dog.
After browsing the tourist propaganda, decided to visit the Mount Romance Sandalwood Factory. Just the name appealed. It was a 12km drive from the town centre.
There, we found out much about the nature and production of sandalwood oil in WA. The native Australian sandalwood tree was once a significant export product – to parts of Asia for making incense, on particular; and for its oil for perfumes. It had long been used by the aborigines for its anti-biotic properties and this was exploited by pharmaceutical industries overseas. But this demand stopped with the coming of manufactured anti-biotics.
Mount Romance had revived the use of sandalwood oils for a range of skin care products, soaps and so on. They saw it as a potential growth industry and were working to have sandalwood plantations established, rather than just rely on the harvesting of the tree in the wild.
Also on offer there was the Gong experience. This sounded unusual, so we paid to do that, for something different. We went into a specially built, 16 sided, conical room, and were supplied with a sandalwood infused small scarf. The idea was to relax in the dim room, on large cushions, inhale the sandalwood smell, shut the eyes and listen to the reverberations of s number of gongs being struck. A number of these had different tones and pitches. I did seem to go into somewhat of a meditative state, I thought. Anyway, the “resonance massaging” was very relaxing, as promised, and put us in a receptive mood to spend money on sandalwood products in the shop!
After that, relaxed some more back at camp.