Guide to Esperance, Australia

The 8 most popular tourist attractions in Esperance

Lined with some of Australia’s most delightful beaches, the small town of Esperance is about 720 kilometers southeast of Perth. The town takes its name from the French ship, Espérance, which was anchored here in 1792. Nature is a star attraction along this spectacular coastline adorned with turquoise. Three national parks are in the Shire of Esperance, including the stunning Cape Le Grand, the most famous national park in Western Australia. Kangaroos often hop along the beautiful boulder-covered beaches, where surfing, snorkeling, swimming, and fishing are popular activities.

Just offshore, the wild and rugged Recherche Archipelago, a clutch of 105 granite islands, shelters rock wallabies and Australian sea lions. Inland, with arid landscapes stretching to the vast, treeless Nullarbor Plain, nature lovers can hike the many hiking trails, hit and grind on a four-drive adventure, or bask in the solitude and beauty of the windswept sandy sands.

See also: Where to stay in Esperance

1 Cape Le Grand National Park.

Cape Le Grand National Park.

Of the three national parks in the Shire of Esperance, Cape Le Grand, 30 minutes east of Esperance, is a dazzling beauty queen. Long beaches with squeaky white sand, turquoise seas, flower-covered heaths and granite peaks are among the highlights. Insanely beautiful Lucky Bay, a pristine stretch of coastline where sunbathers can share a patch of sand with resident kangaroos, often tops the list of beaches with the whitest sand. The main activity in the park is a 3-kilometer hiking trail up gentle slopes to Frenchman’s Peak, which rewards hikers with spectacular views of the park and the Recherche Archipelago. Another popular hike, the challenging 15-kilometer (one-way) Coastal Path runs from Le Grand Beach past Hellfire Bay in Rossiter Bay, with spectacular views of the coast. The park’s narrow bays and beautiful coves entice many water sports enthusiasts and anglers.

Official website: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/cape-le-grand

2 Twilight Beach

About 7 km west of Esperance, Twilight Beach is an exquisite slice of white sand and turquoise sea, surrounded by rounded granite boulders. This stunning stretch has been voted the most popular beach in Western Australia and resembles the boulder-strewn strands in the Seychelles (without the rustling palms). The granite islets lie offshore, and the wide, flat shoreline and shallow sand bar make for ideal conditions for families with young children-it’s the safest beach in Esperance for swimming and surfing. Lifeguards patrol during the summer months.

3 Esperanza Museum

Esperanza Museum DON PUGH / photo modified

A visit to the charming Esperanza Museum is a gust of all the treasures in Grandma’s attic, but with space junk thrown into the mix. This quirky little gem describes the region’s social history in keeping with the theme, from antique farm equipment to early telephones, old railroad vehicles and even kitchen appliances. Perhaps the most unique exhibits show debris from the Skylab that fell to earth near Esperance in 1979. Interestingly, Esperance fined NASA $400 for the debris. It’s been 30 years, but the fine has now been paid in full.

Hours: open daily 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Good Friday and Christmas

Location: corner of James Street and Dempster Street, Esperance

Official website: http://www.esperancemuseum.com.au/

4 Great Ocean Drive.

Great Ocean Drive by Larry W. Lo / photo modified

Travelers to Australia have probably heard of the Great Ocean Drive, a scenic route along the country’s south coast. The Great Ocean Drive is Western Australia’s version of the nearly 40-kilometer tourist route that stretches along the pristine Esperance coastline and loops back into town. Along the way, sightseers can enjoy panoramic coastal views and stop at elevated beaches to surf, swim, picnic or fish. Highlights include Rotary Lookout, perched on a granite outcrop with panoramic views of Esperance and the Recherche Archipelago, Twilight Family Beach, Western Wind Farms, and Pink Lake, which changes color because of the salt-resistant algae in the water, though it wasn’t pink after a while.

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5 Cape Arid National Park.

Cape Arid National Park.

Crystal clear seas, sparkling beaches, and cobblestone bays are the main draws in Cape Arid National Park, 120 km east of Esperance. This huge park is best accessible by four-wheel drive and is just east of Cape Le Grand, with similar coastal scenery. The granite capes shelter white-sand beaches that offer fantastic fishing and water sports in the summer.

From the top of Mount Arid , sightseers can enjoy spectacular views of the coast and small islands in the eastern part of the Recherche archipelago. In the north of the park, the rocky Russell-District rises from Pickle Scrub with 600m Tower Peak at its highest point. Coastal walking paths and inland trails are a great way to explore the variety of plants and animals here, which include many birds such as the mulga parrot and purple lorikeet. In late winter and spring, migrating whales swim right ashore. At the eastern end of the park, the windswept dunes of the Nuitsland Nature Preserve drop into the vast Nullarbor Plain Wilderness .

6 Fitzgerald River National Park

Graeme Churchard Fitzgerald River National Park / photo modified

About 3 hours west of Esperance, Fitzgerald River National Park is a botanical wonderland. This expansive reserve is home to more than 20 percent of recorded plant species, including many orchids and proteins. Some of the species are found only within the park. The scenery here ranges from sparkling coves, great for swimming and fishing, to undulating plains and rocky coastal peaks. In spring, especially in September, fields of colorful wildflowers bloom, creating fantastic photo opportunities.

The Fitzgerald River cuts through the Barren Range , which lies along the Southern Ocean, with distinct rock faces and steep slopes. From the peaks, hikers can enjoy great views of the coast; Point Ann is the main attraction for whale watching from July through October. Scenic drives are a great way to explore the park. South of Hamersley Drive, winds past some of the best coastal attractions such as 4 Mile Beach, Barrance Beach, Barrens Lookout and The Cave. An impressive network of walking and hiking trails depart the park for those who like to hike.

Official website: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/fitzgerald-river

7 Stokes National Park

Stokes National Park.

Stokes National Park, about 80 km west of Esperance, covers the calm waters of Stokes Inlet , a deep estuary with fantastic fishing, kayaking, singing, boating, and bushwalking. Long dune beaches and rocky ledges fringe the coast, while low hills roll into the depths. Many species of plants and waterfowl thrive on the banks of the hollow and neighboring heathlands and wetlands. Anglers can cast their lines for black bream, King George Whiting and Australian salmon. At the 4.3 km Heritage Trace, hikers can enjoy beautiful views of the entrance and learn about how the area has evolved over time. The park’s main entrance is suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles, but the rest of the park requires 4WD.

8 Lake Worden Keppwari.

Birders and nature lovers will love the Capwari Trail Walk, a 5-minute drive from downtown Esperance. Bush-edged trails and forest passages weave along the wetlands for 3.6 miles (one way) through banyans, sedge lands, and over dunes. Along the way, interpretive signs share information about the wetlands, and two bird hides provide a quiet sanctuary for serious birders and photographers to observe the many waterfowl. Travelers can complete the return trip in about two and a half hours.

Where to stay in Esperance for sightseeing

We recommend these centrally located hotels and apartments in Esperance, with easy access to the beach and town:

    Esperance Island View Apartments: medium-sized apartments with beach views, attentive staff, modern style, well-equipped kitchens, BBQ.

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Esperance Attractions (Australia)

Esperance is a city in the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the center of the county of the same name. Its population is 9,536 (according to the 2006 census).

Climate

Esperance is located in the south of Western Australia, on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

History

The first people – Australian Aborigines – appeared in these places about 20,000 years ago. They were the Nungar tribe.

Europeans first came to the area of Esperance in 1627 when a Dutch expedition led by Pieter Nuijts on board the Gulde Zeepaard sailed through here. French sailors were the first to go ashore, looking for a place of refuge from the storm. They came in two ships, L’Esperance and Recherche. This happened in 1792. The French named the area “Esperance” after the ship “Hope”. The nearby archipelago was named after another ship.

In 1802, Matthew Flinders and his crew sailed along the southern coast of Australia, including a visit to these places.

Throughout the nineteenth century the area of present-day Esperance served as a base for whale and seal hunters coming from Van Diemen’s Land as well as from America and France. Fish, kangaroo and geese were the main sources of subsistence.

In 1841 Edward John Eyre visited here on his way from Adelaide to Albany.

In 1863 the Dempster brothers settled here and one of them, Andrew Dempster, in 1866 took title to 100,000 acres (approximately 404.7 square miles).

After the discovery of gold deposits in Western Australia in the late 19th century (around Kalgoorlie, Dundas and Coolgardie), life in Esperance changed dramatically. Esperance became a staging post for miners and adventurers on their way to the Goldfields area. By 1897 the area had two newspapers, a brewery and four inns. But there were not enough hotels for everyone, and some adventurers had to sleep in tents or under the open sky on the beach.

They were followed by farmers and in 1912 there were already 60 farms around Esperance. The development of the fertile Mally region began, but the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s devastated 75 percent of the farms. Economic recovery in the town was slow at first, but in the late 1940s it was discovered that land north of Esperance hid deposits of copper, zinc, and superphosphate. In the 1950s and ’60s steps were taken to create an entire agricultural region of Esperance. Nowadays, industry, agriculture, tourism, and fisheries are the main sources of revenue in the city.

Population

According to the 2006 census, Esperance has a population of 9,536 people, of whom 4,626 are male and 4,910 are female. The proportion of the aboriginal population is 5.1% (483 people).

Transportation

The city is connected to the East-West Transport Corridor by a rail line to Kalgoorlie. The city also has a seaport and Esperance Airport.

Notable residents and natives

  • Dan Paris. – Australian actor
  • Quinted Lynch. – Australian soccer player
  • George Harrison, guitarist for the Beatles, visited these places

Twin Cities

  • Saint Martin de Rey, France

A tourist’s tip

We’ve travelled hundreds of kilometers over two spectacular oceans, lush eucalypt forests and wineries, and by the end of the first week we’d left the Great Southern Region – or just the South Coast of Australia – of Elbany, almost 500 kilometers to the eastern outpost of Western Australia, beyond which, heading towards Adelaide, the great Nullarbor begins.

This is the most scenic part of the South of Western Australia itinerary, an area of the whitest beaches, endless outback, remote human settlements and isolated national parks.

If you drive from Elbany parallel to the coast, well, not really parallel – the road goes 70 kilometers inland, you can make some pretty good side-trips, say, in Bremer Bay or Hopetoun. But you need a couple of extra days, to organize overnight stays in these tiny, but quite noteworthy towns.

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First of the lows, Bremer Bay is also the starting point to Fitzgerald River National Park, which covers nearly 3,500 square miles including the Barren Mountains, Eyre Range and the Fitzgerald River Valley (those interested – download the park brochure at the end of the story) A trip through this area must be clearly planned and prepared, so, with limited time, we skipped everything along the South Coast Highway and walked five hundred kilometers in one breath to the town of Esperance, the easternmost town on the south shore of Western Australia (as strange as that may sound).

The distance to Perth is 720 kilometers by the shortest route, through the outback, salt lakes and the town of Hyden with its Wave Rock and strange sculptures made of old steel barrels – we drove those kilometers on the way back to Perth. Esperance can be reached by plane from Perth – local airlines Skywest fly, you can also travel by bus or rental car – which is the best option, but it’s a long drive, both from Perth and much less from Adelaide (2100 km). But it’s really worth it, because Esperance is a real jewel of Western Australia.

The question of what a man has forgotten in such a wilderness, which is not suitable for agriculture and yet is halfway from Perth to Adelaide is quite interesting. That is, of course, Esperance in the 18th century provided access to the sea for the gold-rich interior of the continent, the so-called “gold belt”, but the first settlers who settled this land in the 1870s were in some ways heroes.

In general, the area was first described by the ubiquitous Dutch as early as 1627, when one of the early expeditions passed along the coast. Then there were the French, who more than a century later by chance found themselves in Esperance Bay, waiting out a storm. Actually the name of the city repeats the name of the French ship Esperance (hope) on which one of the most famous French explorers of Australia Bruni d’Entrecasteaux made his expedition. The name d’Entrecasteaux is another popular toponym on Australian maps, which was named by another Australian explorer of the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the early 1800s it was Matthew Flinders, who described the land and did the initial topography on behalf of the British Crown, and then the region, not Esperance itself of course – it was founded towards the end of the century, attracted settlers for free land and gold.

The city of Esperance first officially appeared on maps in the 1890s and almost immediately received a powerful impetus to development – gold was found in the interior and Esperance became the port city of a major gold mining region. In the 1890s, the city pier was built, which still stands today.

It is now, of course, exclusively for tourists and many fishermen – it feels like one of the most popular activities for city residents to come to the pier to fish on weekday evenings. Visitors to the city have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the sea lions that live by the pier on the city’s beach. In the evenings, several of the beasts roam in the water around the fish cleaning tables bolted to the pier.

The 20th century saw an agricultural boom in Esperanza – fertilizers were discovered that made the local soil suitable for growing crops, so the city built an elevator and built a port to export the produce. So now almost daily you can see huge ships standing in the local port for loading.

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One of the most interesting events in the history of Esperance, which got into all the guides “curious facts” about Australia, was the fall in 1979 of the American space station Skylab, which is a memorial monument in the city park. The city officially issued a $400 fine to the U.S. for “illegal dumping of debris” and the fine was later paid by some enthusiasts on behalf of NASA. The city park, by the way, is quite an amusing collection of sculptures – from ancient tractors, to modern tanks, and of course a schematic model of the Skylab space station.

There’s not much to do in Esperance itself, and if the Western Australian townspeople forgive me, there’s only one decent eating place – the Dome (the Dome Café chain in towns in Western Australia would be the deciding factor “for” if I was asked to live in the state), the best (in a number of competitions) restaurant in Western Australia (yes, in the middle of nowhere, not Perth – called Loose Goose, see link at the end) and endless hotels and motels. Plus the excellent Tourist Information Centre, which gives out some great brochures and itineraries around the area.

The brochures say there are several beaches in the city limits, not really – the best beaches start just outside the city limits if you drive west on a tourist route called Great Ocean Drive. It’s a 40-kilometer loop through incredibly scenic beaches, a wind farm, Pink Lake and lots of other interesting things.

That’s the route to start with. We head west and back to Esperance on Pink Lake Road.

The route begins at Rotary Lookout.

Then there are the beaches: West Beach.

You can swim, but we didn’t see any lifeguards. The wave is quite strong and dangerous – there were cases when it was necessary to carry out mass rescue operations.

Almost all the beaches of the water stick out stone reefs – the foot of the ancient rocks, long ago destroyed by the southern ocean. They form natural backwaters, something like a bay inside the bay, with the wave freely rolls over them and, leaving on the sides of the cliff, creates a very strong eddy currents – rips, which can easily drag people from the shallow water. There have been cases where people have been rescued by the dozens…

Blue Haven Beach

Twighlich Beach (Australia’s whitest beach in 2006)

Cape Observatory Point with a viewing platform. Quite a popular place for local youth to burn the tires of their Holdens and Fords, judging by the tracks on the pavement.

From one of the beaches, there is a dirt road that takes you to Old Wind Farm.

Which can be seen from everywhere. It’s not as epic as the wind farm at Albany or Cape Nelson in Victoria, but it does blend in with the landscape.

Nine Mile Beach is the westernmost of Esperance’s beaches.

And 10 Mile Lagoon (I mean, it’s 10 miles from Esperance) and the famous local nudist beach with the telling name of Free Beach.

Esperance can be returned by the same road, or you can take the northern part of the scenic drive and see the local landmark, Pink Lake.

This salt lake, under certain conditions and temperature gets pink color due to algae Dunaliella salina living in its water, which accumulate beta-carotene and “efforts” of Halobacteria cutirubrum (approximately in the same way we can explain pink color of salt lakes, for example on Taman Peninsula and in Crimea).

We were not so lucky with the Pink Lake – it was getting close to sunset and in this light it was not pink at all, unfortunately.

Well, the sunset in Esperanza can be watched on the city pier, where we returned. You can get some hot food in the mobile wagon – it’s pretty cold on the South Ocean coast at night, even in summer, so some fisn’n’chips will come in handy.

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The continuation of the Esperance story will focus on Cape Le Grand National Park, its unparalleled beaches and Frenchmen Peak.

western australia white sandy dunes

Esperance is a small town with a population of about 15,000 people. It is located on the southern coast of Western Australia. Despite the fact that it is very small Esperance is a rich city. The main sources of income are agriculture and tourism.

Esperance has a sunny and warm subtropical Mediterranean climate, which is very suitable for growing grapes and citrus crops. Summers in Esperanza are long, sunny and warm, while winters are short, mild and humid. Temperatures range from 17°C in July to 26°C in January. From October to April, the weather is suitable for the beach.

esperance beach western australia

Tourism in Esperanza is developing exceptionally fast. Visitors are mostly upper-middle-income people who, like in Albany, are attracted by the quality wines produced here. But Esperance’s main asset is its magnificent beaches. They attract many tourists and despite this, ever visit this place you are likely to find the extensive beaches almost empty. You will never see huge crowds like you will in many other places. And Esperanza’s beaches are truly amazing and are considered to be some of the most beautiful on the continent. Snowy white sand, clear sea, a variety of fish and other marine life make it one of the most beautiful and attractive places in Australia. Here you can surf, dive or just swim in the clear water. While there are many other benefits, the ocean is what has turned a small seaside town into such a popular tourist destination. The small population in the area spares the environment and you are unlikely to find another town in such a developed country whose nature is so well maintained and preserved. Another important attraction in Esperance is Pink Lake (Pink Lake). It is a small brackish water basin, colored in a delicate pink. The reason for the pink hues of the lake is still unknown. We only know that it is not related to red algae, as previously thought. Although the lake is of interest to all who go to Esperance, probably no one will disturb your quiet stay here. Not far from Pink Lake there is a golf course that stretches 1.8 km. long. About 15 minutes west of Esperance is Cape Le Grand National Park. The place is unique in that here lives and breeds a running emu bird, which due to its large size has completely lost the ability to fly. Tourists often compare it to the African ostrich or to the running nandu bird, which runs in the steppes of Argentina, although the emu is much smaller than both birds. It is important to know that Esperance is not a mass resort. What sets it apart from the main resorts is that there isn’t as built-up hotel

near esperance australia

base and crowds of visitors, because Australia relies more on quality people service than the number of guests it encounters. Most accommodations are concentrated mostly near the Indian Ocean coast, and the options range from a caravan to a luxury villa, depending on the finances with which tourists have. How to arrive in Esperance? Esperance is a small town, but despite this it maintains regular air links with the rest of Australia. Every major urban center in the country could come here. And if you don’t want to fly again after your visit to Australia, then there are other alternatives. The roads in Australia are well maintained and there are also railroads to Esperance.

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