Albany’s hidden history crucial to understanding city in present day

Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
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New artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit.
Camera IconNew artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit. Credit: Kellie Balaam/Kellie Balaam

Albany has a rich Aboriginal and European history, both of which are crucial to understanding the regional city as it is today.

The buildings, the stories that reside within their walls and the ancient Menang Noongar culture with sites dating back tens of thousands of years — few regional cities in Australia have so much heritage value.

Albany became WA’s first European settlement in 1826 — three years before the founding of the Swan River Colony.

It was where the Anzacs gathered in 1914 before setting off for the horrors of World War I.

WA’s first Anzac Day dawn service was held atop Mt Clarence by WWI chaplain Padre Ernest White in 1930.

This brings me to the news of some exhibits that have just been unveiled at the Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum.

New artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit.
Camera IconNew artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit. Credit: Kellie Balaam

The Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibition officially opened on Saturday, made possible by the first major upgrade to the museum since it was launched in 1979.

One display shares the history of the Australian Women’s Army Service formed in 1941 “to release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units”.

Women filled many roles — they were mechanics, drivers, cooks, typists and telecommunications officers.

Another display tells the story of Captain George Charles Everett, who played an important role in commanding the Fortress on Mt Adelaide.

Some people might know the story of the grocery store on the corner of Stirling Terrace and Spencer Street still known today as Everett’s Corner.

New artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit.
Camera IconNew artefacts on display in the Hidden Stories of the Fortress exhibit.

Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum curator David Theodore told the Advertiser at the opening that the exhibits featured collections of photographs which had never been seen before by the public.

“There’s a big significance for the large family collections of soldiers who served here to bring them out on display all together, from 1893 to World War II,” he said.

“To say that the stories in there is the end of the story is an understatement — we’ve got so many more stories.”

In a town steeped in Aboriginal and European history, many stories remain hidden.

This new exhibition has brought important pieces of our past into the light.

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