Our departure from Hopetoun on Saturday morning was a slow affair. By the time we arose, had breakfast, prepared for our departure then drove into Hopetoun for an early morning coffee, it was 11am before we hit the road. It was 50km from Hopetoun back onto the South Coast Highway then a further 170km to Esperance. We had one stop on the way at Munglinup for a late on board lunch arriving in Esperance around 4pm on Saturday afternoon. Finding our camp at Esperance was a wee problem as the road layout had recently changed and the GPS threw a hissy fit. Reverting back to common sense and an old road map solved the problem.
Esperance is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia on the Southern Ocean coastline. While explorers first visited the area in 1627, it was not until the early 1800s that whalers, sealers, pirates and gold miners arrived keen to exploit the free land and to cash in on the area’s gold boom. Esperance township itself was established in the 1870’s and gazetted in 1893. Agriculture, mining, fishing and tourism are now the area’s key industries. Esperance has the only port in the southeast of Western Australia and is the deepest in Southern Australia. The port area is a stunning sight. Beautiful white beaches, cafes, cycling and walking tracks and massive ships loading millions of tonnes of grain, canola and iron ore intermingle with paddle boarders, sailboarders and canoeists.
The weather has been super kind to us during our Esperance visit. The day temperatures have been around 28C to 30C and dropping to 15C at night. There has been a slight breeze each day, just enough to shift the air around. We do recognise however that it is getting hotter and the run up to Christmas is going to be a testing time in terms of temperatures and fire risks. Even now we are constantly monitoring our Fire Alert App.
We are not sure if any of you will remember the event but many an Esperance resident dines out on this bit of history. In 1979 pieces of the space station ‘Skylab’ crashed onto Esperance after the craft broke up over the Indian Ocean. The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 prize for the first piece of Skylab to be delivered to their offices. A local truck driver, then 17 years old, scooped a few pieces of Skylab off the roof of his home in Esperance and caught the first flight to San Francisco to collect the prize. Apparently he now lives in Perth awaiting his next ‘stroke of luck’. Bits of ‘Skylab’ can be seen at the town’s Museum on the waterfront.
It was great being a Kiwi in Australia on Sunday. The overnight sporting fixture results dealt a blow to Australian pride – the Kiwi’s defeated the Kangaroos in the Four Nations, the French beat the Wallabys and of course the All Blacks came up trumps against Scotland. We only took the high ground for the day of course – next weekend/next year could be a different result. We celebrated the victories with a lovely brunch at a café on the shores of Esperance Harbour.
On Sunday afternoon we unhitched the jeep and made our way into the Cape Le Grande National Park. Located 50km east of Esperance, the Park features attractive white sandy beaches set between rocky headlands and massive granite outcrops formed 600 million years ago. Inland, the Park has vast tracts of sandplains, swamps and freshwater pools. Some 40 million years ago sea levels were at least 300 metres above their present level. Many of the caves and tunnels in the granite outcrops were formed at that time by wave action and sea currents. We came across one rock that actually whistled when the wind blew through it. This is a result of the shape of the rock itself and a narrow tunnel that splits the rock. The rock was aptly named ‘Whistling Rock’.
One of the reasons for our visit to the Park was to ascertain whether or not we would be able to get our motorhome in to one of the Parks camping areas . There are some stunning camping spots but unfortunately most were designed for tents or small to medium caravans. It was a ‘no fit’ for us so we stayed put in Esperance. We were happy with our Cape Le Grand adventure – we visited Cape Le Grand Beach, Thistle Cove, Lucky Bay (voted as having the whitest beach sand in Australia), Frenchman Peak and all places in between.
We spent Monday and today cruising around the Esperance area and taking in as much as we could. When we didn’t feel like driving, and as our campsite was only about 1km out of the township itself, we were within easy walking to anywhere really. Our verdict on Esperance – it is a great little seaside town with plenty to see and do. Our four days here have been on the go the whole time.
Our plan is to leave here tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and make our way along the Coolgardie Esperance Highway toward Kalgoorlie. The journey is about 400km so we doubt whether we will do the trip in one day. We will try and find a nice little spot somewhere around Norseman to stop over for a night. Our intention is to stay around the Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Kambaida area for four or five days. The Goldfields Woodlands National Park is close by and we are keen to get into that. The fires and bad weather up that way at the moment may require us to change our plan, we shall see.