Our drive to Esperance was quite the journey. The crazy weather we’ve been experiencing caused a whole string of road closures, including a collapsed bridge on the main highway. We actually had a pretty hard time trying to find a detour between Albany and Esperance. The route we eventually had to take was a massive detour, bringing us all the way to Lake King, along hundreds of kilometres of gravel road, and through a small river. In some ways it was an annoyance to have to go so far out of the way and use so much more fuel, but in other ways it was definitely an adventure. We even got to see some emus crossing the road, which was pretty exciting!
After all that it was certainly a relief to arrive in Esperance where, thankfully, the sun was shining! Better yet, we found that there is a fortune of things to do in the area.From its miles of coastline to its quirky shops, its certainly a town worth visiting!
Observatory Point on The Great Ocean Drive
The town of Esperance is situated right by the ocean. The esplanade runs along the length of the bay, and is a bustling street filled with people walking, fishing, and enjoying the scenery. There are parks, an indoor mini golf course, and jetties to walk down. One of my favourite spots was the Coffee Cat, a coffee van on the esplanade that’s a local favourite. The Esperance museum was surprisingly cool, with a really massive collection of historical items from shells to a whole steam train. It’s situated right next to the museum village which is a model historical village containing some pretty cool unique shops.
One of our favourite spots in Esperance was the Lucky Bay Brewing company. This brewery is as local as it gets. The barley comes from local farms, each variety of beer is named after a local beach, and the brewery itself is essentially a farm house. The people are friendly, the beer is good, and they can make up one litre cans or growlers to take away. You won’t regret getting a tasting tray.
The biggest can I’ve ever drank!
Great Ocean Drive
Esperance is famous for its magnificent white sand beaches, and there’s plenty of them to choose from. The Great Ocean Drive is a 40 kilometre circular drive that begins near the centre of town at the Esplanade and winds its way around the wealth of perfect beaches in the area. The are plenty of look out points, access to four wheel drive beaches, and even a nudist beach along the way! One of the most popular beaches is Twilight Cove, a beautiful bay with sparkling blue water and a large “rock with a hole in it” that people were jumping off of. We had lunch at the picnic tables there and had a lovely walk through the soft sand. This beach is patrolled by life guards so it’s safe for the kids too!
The rock with a hole in it
Also on this drive is Esperance’s Pink Lake. Now, if you’ve looked at visiting Esperance you’ve probably seen photos of a strawberry milkshake coloured lake. That’s lake Hillier and it’s located on an island off the coast of Esperance. Pink lake, despite its name, is not nearly as pink. The pink colour of these lakes is caused by a type of bacteria found in salty lakes. Lots of the bacteria coupled with high temperatures equals a very pink lake! Apparently Pink Lake hasn’t been particuarly pink in quite a while. The day we saw it it did have a pale peach kind of colour. Not quite a strawberry milkshake, but still worth taking a look at!
The not so Pink Lake
Cape Le Grand
About an hour East of Esperance is Cape Le Grand national park. It’s a place of perfect white beaches and majestic granite peaks, a sprawling space where bushland, mountains and sea all collide to create a haven of nature. The most famous of beaches in the park is Lucky Bay. Home to a friendly family of kangaroos, the whitest beaches in Australia, and a coffee van that whips up your order directly on the beach, it’s no wonder this bay is so popular. Best of all, it has a national park campground that has hot showers, a camp kitchen, and flushing toilets for $10 per person a night! When we were here the recent storms had wreaked havoc on the beach, there was seaweed all over the shore and the sand was almost like mud in parts. But as soon as we got into the water it was beautiful. It felt like we were in Hawaii, surounded by granite peaks and with water so clear we could see our feet, it was an awesome experience.
The Kangaroos are friendly in Cape Le Grand!
If you’re into hiking there’s plenty to do in Cape Le Grand. We were eager to do Frenchman’s Peak, which looked very cool from the ground and promised breathtaking views across the park. But, of course, we were greeted with a thunder storm just as we were planning to set off. Thankfully the park is close enough to home for us to do it another time.
Snow White Sand in Cape Le Grand
Cape Arid is another park that the weather negatively impacted on. The park is mostly four wheel drive and of course the recent rain fall had resulted in plenty of road closure. Nevertheless we camped in one of the more easily accessible campsites in the park, Thomas River Fishery. There are actually two campsites on Thomas River. One that used to belong to the shire, and one that has always belonged to the national park service. Go to the national park one! The shire one needs a serious upgrade in terms of the facilities on offer and they’re both the same price. From both campsites you can walk to the beach, have access to four wheel drive tracks, can see lots of nature, and are generally surrounded by beautiful wildlife.
Thomas River in Cape Arid
Our time in Esperance was unforgettable, punctuated by beautiful scenery, wildlife encounters and awesome food and drink. Without a doubt, there’s something in this gorgeous coastal town for everybody to enjoy.
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