After a couple of days in Albany we took off east towards Esperance. As discussed before, the coast road doesn’t really run along the coast. Rather it runs a few miles inland through farming fields that have been carved out of the brush. One area we crossed had huge fields of yellow that were rapeseed, the plant used to make canola oil.
Esperance is a little shore town of 12,000 folks. The ocean water around the place is crystal clear and many shades of blue. The town was named after a French explorer ship, The Esperance, that took refuge in its harbor in 1792. Parts of town have cliffs with beautiful staircases down to the water below.
While we had planned out our trip with stops and things to see, you never really know what a place is going to be like until you arrive. The biggest surprise of this trip was Cape Le Grand National Park just outside of Esperance. The place was just stunningly beautiful. Pam and I had nearly the whole park to ourselves as we explored beach after beach, each more beautiful than the last one.
We climbed a granite rock mountain named Frenchman Peak because the rock looked like a beret. This photo of our ascent up the granite face is not tilted for effect. It was that steep and had those little white tags showing the way to the top. I imagine it would be impossible to climb if the rock is wet.
The 360-degree view from the top was incredible. You could see all the 80,000 acres that makes up Cape Le Grand National Park and the dirt roads that took you to all the beautiful beaches.
The sand there is pure white and squeaks when you walk on it. It is crushed quartz and is said to be the whitest beach sand in the world. Couple that with the crystal-clear blue water and the place is just drop dead beautiful.
There were several beaches within the park and so we visited them all. For such a beautiful place it was just handful of folks sharing this huge park. I’m sure it is crowded in the summer with campers and beach lovers, but it was awesome in the winter too.
Offshore there were a lot of small rock outcroppings that were home to many different kinds of marine life.
We hiked along the rock outcropping and noticed steel studs driven into the rocks with rings where fishermen could clip in and not worry about being carried away by an unseen large wave. As we turned the corner, we noticed a pod of about 30 dolphins playing in a secluded bay. While only about a quarter mile by sea to get there, we hiked around the rock about 2 miles to get to the bay.
Once there, Pam and I sat on the rock and watched the dolphins for over an hour playing in the bay. There was a lot of jumping, tail slapping and chasing going on – like our own private dolphin show. Eventually they headed back out to deeper water, probably to get some food after all that playtime.
The colors there were just amazing. I always thought some of those spectacular beach pictures you see from time to time had to be photoshopped. Now I know they were shot at Cape Le Grand unmodified.
As the sun was setting, we stumbled onto the last beach of the day. This one lead 20 miles or more back to Esperance along the beach. Some younger kids had a loaded truck with camping gear and were heading out to spend the night. It’s times like these we really, really missed the Roamer.
While the park is known for kangaroos on the beach, we didn’t see any until we pulled out of the last beach parking lot and this guy was heading towards the water.
What a gorgeous place. Cape Le Grand National Park should be on everyone’s bucket list.