As is typical of Australia, the scenery also changed dramatically as we moved from flat, inland plains to the coastal region where Esperance sits. Water is everywhere. Our first afternoon was cloudy and overcast (and, to us, beautifully cool - under 20'C!) but the magnificence of the coastline was still evident.
|Twilight Beach, Esperance|
We reached Esperance mid-afternoon and after checking into our accommodation, explored the town (which didn't take too long) and drove the 30km coastal drive that takes in Twilight Beach, above; a windfarm, below; and many stunning views along the way.
|Esperance wind farm|
Esperance accommodation is expensive for what you get, and as we were there for only one night, we opted for somewhere relatively basic. Ocean Beach Holiday Units are set one block back from the beach and within walking distance of the town centre. We found our one bedroom unit very spacious, clean and well equipped, and the dated decor was worthwhile for the savings in price.
Our unit had a full kitchen but after self-catering in Hyden and having a picnic-style lunch on the drive across, we were keen to purchase food rather than prepare it ourselves. Alas, while Esperance has many dining options, restaurants are in relatively short supply. There are plenty of take away and fast food places, and several pub-style hotels, but only a couple of restaurants. As they were of the fine dining variety, we opted for take away instead. Kung Fu Noodles won us over with their approach to preparing customised stir fry dishes as you watch, and we enjoyed our resulting noodle boxes.
|Cape Le Grand national park|
The next day, Sunday, we drove a little further east to Cape Le Grand national park. One of Esperance's major drawcards, the park is home to a number of stunning beaches and granite outcrops.
We started off by climbing Frenchman's Peak, which at 262m high is relatively modest in size. Indeed, I scoffed at the 'difficult' label attached to the 3km return walk, and the 1.5 - 2 hours recommended for its completion. 1.5 hours to walk 3km?! Ridiculous...or so I thought.
|On the way up...|
I now retract all my scepticism and have a new appreciation for just how difficult 3km of walking can be. Climbing Frenchman's Peak bears nearly as much resemblance to rock climing as it does to bush walking. The 'path' is simply markers up a granite hill, and in several sections it was steep enough to have me covering ground on my hands and knees. You would not want to do this walk in heavy rain!
The challenging climb did make the views all the more rewarding, and we had glimpses of the scenery below and across to the coast.
|Views from the top|
We were fortunate to have the peak to ourselves, but on our way down we passed a group of walkers heading up. One had nearly reached the top when we were back at the car park, and they help give scale to the image below. If you look to the right of the summit, you can just spot a tiny person.
The walk took us an hour and a quarter, and at the end of it, we were very hot and more than a little tired. Views of Hellfire Bay, which I have shown previously, were just the thing to revive us. I think Hellfire Bay may be the most beautiful beach I have visited. The water is vivid turquoise and the sand as close to white as you are likely to see.
We didn't make it to all of the bays in the park, but left feeling entirely satisfied that this was the one we got to.
Back in Esperance, we ate lunch at the Dome Cafe before driving on to Kalgoorlie. Dome is a Western Australian cafe franchise, and eating there on holiday is a sign that the town in question is both big enough to have a Dome, but small enough to be lacking quality local cafes.
|Mango salad and a soy cappuccino|
On this occasion, it served us well and I was grateful for the shot of cafe-quality caffeine. Once fuelled, we left town at 2pm, perfectly positioned to reach our final destination for the trip - Kalgoorlie - that evening.
|Roast vegetable wrap|
What is your favourite beach?
And have you ever been taken aback by the difficulty of a walk or hiking trail?