Sunday, March 23, 2014

Esperance, Western Australia

After seeing Hyden's Wave Rock, we drove another 4 hours east to reach Esperance. In contrast to the tiny 200-odd population of Hyden, Esperance is home to nearly 15,000 people and has multiple accommodation options, cafes and shops. The contrast was pronounced!


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.
 
Frenchman's Peak

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.

Hellfire Bay

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?

21 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting trip - I had to give my computer screen a clean to check that the speck was a person and not a bit of dust - looks like quite a climb - I think I would stick to the beaches - did you find out why such a beautiful beach was called Hellfire? I think it is typical of Australia that the population skyrocketed as you came out of the dusty inland and into the coastal areas.

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    1. The person is definitely speck sized in the photo ;)

      The national park website suggests Hellfire Bay got its name from "St Elmo's fire – a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above ship's masts". I confess I didn't really understand that explanation though, which is why it didn't make it into the post itself!

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  2. Oh man stop with those pictures! They are gorgeous and making me want spring so so badly! Sounds like a cool trip though :)

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    1. Sorry, Gabby! Spring will be with you soon!

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  3. Hellfire Bay is stunning, absolutely stunning. It must be the same beach that I keep coming back to in pictures, as it just takes your breath away.
    As for favourite beach, ahhh, there have been a few!

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    1. Stunning is absolutely right B. It really is an amazing place.

      Too many beaches to choose from is a good position to be in :)

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  4. You've shown me some places I really must see and even though that walk looks challenging, I'd like to do it so I could experience the view. What an incredible beach! The water looks absolutely pristine and very inviting - love the colour of it. What a shame Esperance didn't offer more in terms of dining options; I really can't stand it when there's nothing in between fast food and fine dining - surely the bulk of the population wants something in between xx

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    1. I agree Charlie - I am always perplexed when the food options are so polarised! There would definitely be a market for a casual late night restaurant in Esperance if you're in the mood for a sea change ;)

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  5. So many beautiful views and scenery!! Sounds like a fun weekend getaway!

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  6. More gorgeous scenery - thanks for sharing these. Would love to get there some day.

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    1. I'm glad to provide inspiration :)

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  7. What a beautiful place! I'd love to go running and hiking there :)

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    1. We saw a running group while we were there actually - there seemed to be a casual group run happening on the Saturday afternoon. It's certainly a beautiful spot for it!

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  8. Whenever I get up to a wind farm, I'm always so suprised at how big they are. I never understand why though. That trip looks so awesome. You're making me want to get in the car and not come back!!

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    1. I kind of wanted to just keep driving and never come back myself :P

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  9. Lots of great information and inspiration. Congratulations to you :)

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  10. Wow that was one serious climb you did up to Frenchman's Peak. It must have felt like such an achievement to reach the top!
    Hellfire Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen too. Hopefully I'll get to visit it in person one day x

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  11. It’s a very good post, thanks for sharing this. Essae-Teraoka Ltd has around 30 years of experience in floor scale.. We are the leading manufacturer, supplier and trader of weighing machines and systems, including analytical balances, precision balances, crane scales, weighbridges, etc

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  12. It’s a very good post, thanks for sharing this. Essae-Teraoka Ltd has around 30 years of experience in floor scale.. We are the leading manufacturer, supplier and trader of weighing machines and systems, including analytical balances, precision balances, crane scales, weighbridges, etc

    ReplyDelete

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