Princess Royal Harbour is at the heart of Great Southern history. Home for thousands of years to Noongar people, the harbour also hosted Western Australia’s first European settlers, welcomed early immigrants, farewelled the ANZAC troops and accommodated a bustling port trade. Now this historic and beautiful foreshore is graced by the stunning Albany Entertainment Centre, focal point of the region’s performing arts.
A foreshore location was not always a certainty for the Albany Entertainment Centre. In 1997, a steering committee recommended building an entertainment centre in a prominent location in Albany. In 2000, the City of Albany supported a York Street location over the foreshore, which was subject to concerns about land use near port activities. The City of Albany resolved in 2003 to relocate its administration, and commissioned preliminary planning for an entertainment centre at its York Street site. The State Government committed funds to the proposal in February 2005.
Meanwhile, a breakthrough was achieved in the development of the waterfront with the State Government supporting a $12.7 million capital works bid by the Great Southern Development Commission (GSDC) in 2003 to initiate work on the foreshore.
Following the Government’s 2005 entertainment centre commitment, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure reviewed the foreshore development and invited Albany to consider locating its entertainment centre by the harbour. In September 2005, a landmark agreement brought together divergent views about the waterfront, balancing port users’ needs with other interests, enabling a workable waterfront plan that included a maritime precinct, the Anzac Peace Park and a more viable entertainment centre site.
In 2006, architects Cox Howlett and Bailey Woodland were commissioned to design the Albany Entertainment Centre as the Albany Waterfront’s centrepiece. DORIC started work in 2008 on the $70 million project, with $68.8 million in State Government funds through the GSDC, and $1.2 million in City of Albany funding. Completed in September 2010, the Albany Entertainment Centre stands proudly by Princess Royal Harbour, taking its place in Great Southern history as the region's premier performing arts and convention centre.