Esperance

A coastal port and the only major town on Western Australia's south east coast.

At Norseman, after crossing the Nullarbor Plain, motorists heading for Perth have the choice of taking the shorter inland route via Kalgoorlie, or south via the south coast and south-west corner of the state. The first town you reach if you take the latter route is Esperance.

The ocean here is crystal clear, the waters are a deep aqua colour; the coast is lined with stunning pink granite outcrops and offshore there are a myriad islands. Seals, dolphins and whales (in season) abound. It is one of Australia's most serenely picturesque stretches of coastline.

Lookouts

The Rotary Lookout Esperance is located high on a granite outcrop on Wireless Hill, and offers expansive views of the surrounding coastal town and its magnificent beaches. Doust Street, off Twilight Beach Road.

At Observatory Point and Lookout a plaque commemorates the occasion in 1792 when the French frigates L'Esperance and Recherche sheltered there. The view of the bay and its islands is excellent. It is located on Twilight Beach Rd (access is via Great Ocean Drive).

From Six Mile Hill there are fine views of Esperance and of the coast and its offshore islands. The lookout is located at the northern end of town, just beyond Warden Lake (via Norseman Rd).

Events

March: Annual Classic Fishing Competition

August: Esperance Music Festival

September: Esperance Wildflower Festival

October: Esperance Agricultural Show

About Esperance

Esperance is located on the south coast around half-way between Albany and the South Australian border. Its population is around 14,000 people, and its major industries are tourism, agriculture and fishing.


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Where Is It?

Esperance is 950 ikm by road from Perth via Coolgardie and Norseman.


The only port in the south east of Western Australia, the Esperance Port Authority completed an A$54 million dollar upgrade in 2002.

Approximately 7.5 hours' drive or a 1.5 hour flight from Perth, the capital of WA, Esperance is a popular annual vacation destination for families living Perth. It is also around 4 hours' drive south from the Goldfields mining town of Kalgoorlie, and as such offers a convenient get-away for weekends for the mine workers.

Climate

Esperance has a Mediterranean type climate typically with hot dry summers and cool wet winters. In summer the average maximum temperature is in the mid 20s (degrees Celsius), however on occasion, hot, dry northerly winds can blow off the arid interior of the state to the north-east, raising temperatures upward to 40 degrees or above. The winter climate is generally less prone to extremes. The dominant influence is the cool, moist winds from the Great Southern Ocean to the south, bringing lower temperatures and the bulk of the annual rainfall in cold fronts. The average maximum temperatures are in the high teens.

Things To See And Do

Great Ocean Drive

Esperance is set in the middle of a coastal region known for its many attractive beaches, offering surfing, scuba diving and swimming in sparklingly clear water. Nearby are a number of salt lakes, including the Pink Lake, which gains its rosy hue from red algae living within its waters.

These can all be viewed on the 38 kilometre circular route known as the Great Ocean Drive. One of the best drives in Western Australia, we suggest you take a picnic and make a lazy day of it, or unpack the surfboard and ride some of the best waves in the country.


Recherche Archipelago

Offshore from Esperence is s string of 105 islands known as the Recherche Archipelago. These islands are protected as a Nature Reserve as they are teaming with sealife, including New Zealand fur seals, tammars (a species of Bandicoot), Recherche Cape Barren Geese, dolphins and Minke whales in season.

Woody Island, which is the only island of the archipelago open to visitors. Options include day trips, serviced-hut accommodation and camping with ablutions block, barbecues and a playground. The island has glass-bottom boats, disabled facilities, water slide, snorkel hire, an interpretive centre, a cafe and a kiosk and offers opportunities for bushwalking, swimming and fishing. For more information ring (08) 9071 5757.


Museum Village

The Museum Village is an interesting collection of historical buildings which covers an entire block. Apart from the old railway station and yards there is a former doctor's surgery, a school master's residence, a church and a private home, all located on an imaginary historic street.

The village incorporates a cafe, art gallery, a blacksmith's, craft shops and the town's visitor information centre.


Esperance Museum

Esperance Museum displays material relating to local history, including pioneer memorabilia, a 1951 coal-fire locomotive, shipwreck items, pieces of the US Sky Lab, which fell to earth in the Esperance region in 1980, Aboriginal artifacts, a room with antique musical items, a display of antiquated communications equipment and agricultural machinery. Location: corner of Dempster St and James St.


Dempster Homestead

The first European settlers in the vicinity were the Dempster brothers who drove horses, cattle and sheep into the area in 1863, taking up a large grazing lease in 1866. The former Dempster Homestead, located at 155 Dempster Street, is listed on the National Estate as an important relic of the early history of the area. Built in 1863 by the Dempster brothers it is rough in construction having used local limestone and a design based on needs rather than aesthetics. It has been restored and is now in private ownership but can be viewed from the street (there is no access to the grounds or interior).


Cannery Arts Centre

The Cannery Arts Centre is the major arts exhibition space in Esperance. It displays local and touring exhibitions and possesses studios in use by local artists. There is also an arts and crafts shop. It is located on Norseman Rd, just beyond Tanker Jetty.


Esperance Yabby Farm

Located at the north-western end of town, near the southern edge of Lake Warden, is a yabby farm which is open from Tuesday to Saturday. Call (08) 9071 3675 to arrange a time to visit.


Monjingup Lake Reserve

This reserve, centring on Monjingup Lake, is situated amid attractive bushland and offers walking trails, picnic and barbecue facilities, springtime wildflowers and birdwatching opportunities. It is located on Telegraph Rd which runs off the South Coast Highway to the north-west of town.


Telegraph Farm

Further along Telegraph Rd is Telegraph Farm which offers visitors a chance to view a working farm with such wildlife as red deer, kangaroos, emus and water buffalo. They have a protea plantation and a coffee shop. Ph: (08) 9071 1146.

Surrounding Area


Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand National Park (56 km east) a major nearby tourist attraction, just 56 km from the town centre, which boasts a stunningly picturesque coast of largely granite terrain and sheltered white sandy beaches. It is a popular spot for beachcombing, recreational fishing, and is enjoyed by four wheel drive enthusiasts and hikers. One beach here even has a family of resident kangaroos that feed on seaweed on the beach - no wonder they call it Lucky Bay!

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Cape Arid National Park

Cape Arid National Park (120km east) offers more spectacular coastal scenery dominated by granite outcrops. Being home to more than 160 bird species, it is an important park for the conservation of birds in Western Australia. There are plenty of coastal walking trails to various fishing and swimming spots.

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Speddingup Farm Wildflower Sanctuary

Located 45 km north of Esperance this nature sanctuary highlights the fine wildflowers of the southern sandplain. Visitors can meander along the pathways at their own volition or take a guided tour. It is open from August 1 to November 1 with morning and afternoon teas available and can be found at the intersection of Norseman Rd and Speddingup East Rd, tel: (08) 9075 6053 or (0429) 990 176.


Helms Arboretum

Located 18 km north of town, along Norseman Road, is a sizeable area of trees and flowering native shrubs, with a focus on pines collected from around the world. Guided walks are available in springtime.


Peak Charles National Park

Over 100 km north of Esperance is Peak Charles National Park, which centres on two ancient granite peaks - Peak Charles and Peak Eleanora. They offer excellent views over the surrounding sandplains with theie heaths and salt lake systems. No fees are charged for camping but there are no facilities at the designated camping area (other than toilets) and no water.


Condigup

67 km east of Esperance, along Fisheries Rd, is the small settlement of Condigup which features a tavern and general store. Due south is Duke of Orleans Bay.


Duke of Orleans Bay

Further east (85 km from Esperance) is Duke of Orleans Bay, which occupies a very beautiful part of the coastline.The is nestled between Cape le Grand and Cape Arid National Parks about 89 kms from Esperance. The sand of Wharton Beach is clean and white, the sand clear blue water and four wheel drive vehicles have access to the beach. There’Äôs a camping ground at Duke of Orleans Caravan park.


Stokes Inlet National Park

Located about 80 km west of Esperance, Stokes encapsulates about 10,000 hectares of gorgeous coastal scenery, ocean fishing and fine beaches for swimming. The park's vegetation consists principally of coastal heath, scrub and areas of dense low forests. Access to the Park is on good gravel roads from the main highway to gravel camping bays close to the inlet. Other roads within the Park are four wheel drive tracks only. Please note that caravans are restricted to the gravel roads.

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Ten Mile Lagoon

Ten Mile Lagoon is a fantastic swimming beach because a rocky shore acts as a natural breakwater in front of which is a long shallow pool that's often warmer than the ocean (be warned, Esperance seas are notoriously chilly). A little further down you'll find a naturalist beach, if you're that way inclined. Ten Mile Beach and Lagoon is about 14kms from the town.

History of Esperance

European history dates back to 1627 when the Dutch vessel Gulden Zeepaert, skippered by Francois Thijssen, passed through the blue waters off the Esperance coast. French explorers are credited with making the first landfall near the present day town, naming it and other local landmarks whilst sheltering from a storm in this area in 1792. The town itself was named after the French ship, L'Esperance, commanded by Bruny d'Entrecasteaux. Esperance, roughly translated, is French for 'hope'.

In 1802, British navigator Matthew Flinders sailed the Bay of Isles, discovering and naming places such as Lucky Bay and Thistle Cove. Whalers, sealers and pirates followed, as did pastoralists and miners, keen to exploit the free land and to cash in on the gold boom in the goldfields to the north.

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