Located just over 700km by road from Perth on the beautiful southern coast of Western Australia, the town flourished with the discovery of gold in the Eastern Goldfields in the late 19th century. Today, Esperance is renowned for having some of the whitest beach sand in the world, framed by the turquoise waters of the Great Australian Bight.
What’s more? Five national parks with awesome scenic wonders are within easy reach. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound (in the Cape Le Grand National Park, you may be sharing the beach with sun-loving western grey kangaroos!)
Here are seven highlights from a trip to Esperance.
1. Explore Cape Le Grand National Park
Spectacular Cape Le Grand National Park is located about 50km east of Esperance. The descent into the park offers some breathtaking views of Lucky Bay – reputed to have one of the whitest beaches in Australia. It’s not hard to see why.
Unlike most beaches (which are made up of minute particles of shells and other mineral ‘fines’), the sand at Lucky Bay consists of quartz particles. It’s so clean that it squeaks underfoot and literally shimmers in the sunlight. If you’re lucky, you may see one of those kangaroos lazing the day away on the beach and posing for photos.
2. Walk to Rotary Lookout for the spectacular views
Take a walk along the Esplanade foreshore and up to the Rotary Lookout, where you can enjoy sweeping 360o views across the town, the vast coastline and stunning beaches. There are two walking trails that go around Dempster Head and offer even more incredible views of the deep blue ocean. This is also a spot to enjoy some magnificent sunsets.
3. Cruise the Great Ocean Drive
Not to be confused with Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, and offering its own brand of sublime coastal magic, Esperance’s Great Ocean Drive is a 40km must-do day trip. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the coastline and the many tranquil bays and beaches that are within easy reach of town. Just stop where you want to along the way. It’s definitely worth pulling in to see Twilight Beach – one of the most highly rated and popular beaches in WA. With its golden sand and smooth granite boulders, Twilight is the perfect place to relax or take a stroll along the water’s edge.
The Great Ocean Drive loops back inland towards town, and passes by one of Western Australia’s ‘pink’ salt lakes – sadly not so pink these days. The bio-composition of the water has changed and the lake is no longer the vivid shade of crimson that it once was. However, it’s still a beautiful area, and a haven for wildlife.
4. Visit the Historic Museum Park Period Village
Step back in time in the Esperance town centre by paying a visit to the Historic Museum Park Period Village – a quaint collection of small historical buildings from various eras. The structures have been relocated over time from various locations around the town, and now house a range of boutiques. Every second Sunday the Museum Park hosts the Esperance Markets, and vendors set up their stalls between the old buildings. Enjoy the festive atmosphere and mix and mingle with local creatives.
5. See the remains of Skylab
The Museum Park is also home to the Esperance Museum, which documents the European history of the region. Interestingly, it holds some of the debris from Skylab – a US space station, which broke up on re-entry to the earth’s atmosphere and crashed on the southern coast of Western Australia in 1979. Debris was scattered across the Nullarbor and Eastern Goldfields and Esperance was put on the map as the place to visit to see the wreckage.
Fun fact: The Shire of Esperance had a light-hearted dig at NASA for littering the town, and sent them a fine of $400 – which is still unpaid!
6. Climb to the top of Frenchman Peak
If you are feeling fit, take the time to climb the 262 metres to the top of Frenchman Peak. The windswept, rocky mount dominates the landscape in Cape Le Grand National Park, and offers fabulous views. It’s a grade 5 walk, so wear your hiking boots and take plenty of water. A jacket is a good idea as it can be breezy at the top.
Be warned that it’s quite a climb, but once you conquer the summit, you’ll be rewarded with those stellar views. Take your camera. Nature has carved out a hole in the cave at the top – which offers more wonderful photo opportunities.
7. Wine and dine on local specialties
After a big day of exploration, wind down over some of the tasty treats to be found around the region. Experience the relaxed atmosphere at Lucky Bay Brewing, which is named after the famous bay. This boutique brewery serves craft beers brewed from locally grown barley and other ingredients. Set amongst natural bushland, and with lots of native birdlife, it’s a relaxing setting in which to finish the day.
Not far from town you’ll find Yirri Grove, which grows a variety of olives. The fruit is handpicked, pressed and bottled on site. Yirri Grove’s farm shop and restaurant are open Friday through to Monday (closed mid-year).
You’d expect to find exceptional seafood in this neck of the woods, and Fish Face doesn’t disappoint. Dine in or grab some take away and head across The Esplanade to one of the picnic tables along the oceanfront.
Accommodation in Esperance
Are you planning a trip to one of Australia’s more remote and tranquil holiday destinations? Comfort Inn Bay of Isles boasts a 4-star Esperance accommodation with a range of room types to suit all types of travellers. With the Cape Arid National Park, Cape Le Grand National Park and Esperance ECO Discovery Tour nearby, Comfort Inn Bay of Isles is the perfect place to stay in Esperance, Western Australia.
About the writer
Dixie Lamers is a Coffs Harbour-based freelance writer and travel blogger. When Dixie is not writing about travel, you will find her enjoying an Aussie caravanning lifestyle.