Apart from Albany, Esperance is the next biggest town on the southern coast of WA. With a population of 30,000 the following pics will show you why that number could double in the southern summer :) We were there in early Nov & the weather was still only a chilly 23* max with a decent wind blowing. Only the southerners would find this warm & we northerners would be staying out of the surf. The town also supports a huge grain industry with triple trailer trucks rolling into town 0600 - 2200 - past our van park - wrong choice of van park again :(
Esperance has a long jetty - I never did find out why the last few mtrs at the end of the jetty is separated from the rest - deliberate tourist attraction is my guess. Under the jetty is a favourite place for sea lions to take time out from fishing. I think the under the jetty is Sammy the sea lions home :)
As Esperance is on the coast line, she of course will have a beach or 3..... This is called 'Great Ocean Drive'.
Magnificent beaches & bays for that summer relaxation.
There's a lookout on a hill on the edge of town to view the town & 1 of the beaches.
This is West beach, just a few kms from town. There's even a cycle track along the Great Ocean Drive.
There's a fine line to the right of centre, that's the tower at the lookout we were at earlier for views of Esperance.
Twilight beach was voted Australia's best beach in 2006 is only 11 km from town.
For obvious reasons there's 10 Mile Lagoon. A protected area for smaller swimmers. That's a rock shelf, worn down over millions of yrs by The Southern Ocean.
During our travels we have visited numerous National Parks. In the last few weeks it has been no different & we've seen some magnificent national parks. I decided to separate them from the Southern Coast - besides most of them here are inland any way.
Porongurup Nat Pk (pronounced prong grup) is just 40 kms north of Albany. The granite in the Porongurup range is more than 1,000 million yrs old. It is a small park - just 12km long, several hundred mtrs wide & 670 mtrs at its highest peak. The park encompasses over 18 peaks, with 13 of them named. Over 90% of the park burnt in a wild bushfire in 2007 which is very sad as where there were wildflowers under the Karri forest trees, some areas are struggling with weed control.
We climbed Castle Rock. It was only 1.5 kms from the car park, but the gradient was from 260 mtrs at the car park to over 600 mtrs in that 1.5 kms. Quite steep & challenging on the stamina. I had to take dozens of breaks to rest the aching calf muscles.
To get to the top of Castle Rock was a further difficult climb through a narrow crevice. My knees didn't enable me to go further up. Those who do make the last climb get to walk along a man made walk way over the granite boulders.
Rod managed to climb the last few mtrs & this is the great walkway bolted into the granite.
After climbing down, I took this pic looking up, unfortunately the stairs are now over exposed once I change the crevice exposure.
The next day after a good long rest ...... we chose an even longer walk..... similar gradients to the previous day, but the stops were to look at the magnificent scenery along the way. We headed for 2 peaks in the 1 walk trail.
After climbing & meandering for sometime, we managed to get to the 1st peak - Hayward Peak. Nothing really significent in the granite peak except for plain granite rock covered partly in moss & some shrubs growing.
What was spectacular was the views to the north ... that's the Stirling Range National Park ... another 40 kms in the distance.
Hayward Peak joins Nancy Peak, without having to go all the way down the 1st to get to the next peak.
Once we reached the previous sets of boulders, we were confronted with another higher set of boulders :(
Then there was another higher set of boulders again. Devastating to our psychic :(
After 2 lovely days @ Porongurup Nat Pk, we headed another 40 kms north to Stirling Range Nat Pk.
Geologists say the Stirling Range formation was deposited between 590 - 540 million yrs ago. The sedimentary beds that form the range began to rise within the last 100 million yrs. The main roads with in the 60 km wide national park were ancient rivers. There are over 14 Mts that are over 700 mtrs high, with 2 over 1,000 mts.
Mid afternoon we went in search of some orchids along a flat trail. I had to search hard & ignored some stalks that were in fact orchids - stems that look like asparagus with tiny little orchid flowers up the 15 cm stalk. Quite amazing.
Whilst out, another storm was brewing - esp around Bluff Knoll, tallest Mt in Stirling Range. The Mts are magnets for more storms than 10 kms away at the van pk where the rain fall is 1/2 than that on the Mts.
The next day we headed for the tallest mt of Bluff Knoll @ 1095 m high. The walk trail was good & the upward gradient not as taxing as the day before. I still needed plenty of stops :) Take some pics, admire the view etc :) We still had to climb 600 mtrs to get to the top ( starting ht was 360 mtrs) The expected climb was 3.5 kms & 3 -4 hrs.
Along the way these creepies were covering our trail.
Admiring the views whilst recovering the calf muscles & catching breath.
We're almost up in the clouds that are still hanging around - this is the view towards the van park 10 kms away - almost basking in sunshine
As we climb higher - we start having cloud around us
After 20 mins going down, the bl.... weather started to clear.
After lunch we decided to take the 100 km scenic drive around & through the National Park. We had glorious views of several of the mts. The flora was also very pretty.
The next national park we visited was Fitzgerald River National park - about 1/2 way between Albany & Esperance on the southern coast. Die back is a major problem in a lot of WA's national parks. Fitzgerald River is trying to control the spread of the fungus - we had to wash down the car & van at the designated place outside the park.
This National park is over 329,000 hectares, much of it not accessible to the public. There are 62 species of plants endemic to the area & 48 species rarely found any where else. I only recognized 1 of them as being endemic to that area .........
This is Point Ann - a popular area for whale watching whilst Southern Right whales calve in the bay during winter.
Our last national park in the southern regions of WA was Cape Le Grand National Pk. Cape Le Grand is only just under 32,000 hectares & an hrs drive SE of Esperance.
The south-west section of the Park is dominated by rock outcrops of gneiss & granite. These form a distinctive chain of peaks including Mount Le Grand (345 m), Frenchman Peak (262 m) and Mississippi Hill (180 m). Exposure by erosion & movements in the earths crust over the past 600 million yrs. The sea levels were also some 300 mtrs higher about 40 million yrs ago, so the 3 large peaks would have been under water.
The largely granite shoreline and white sand beaches are picturesque features of the area. There are several bays with beautiful white sandy beaches & granite outcrops.
This is lucky Bay - where there is a popular camp ground. These were the views down from our camp spot.
Lucky Bay gets it's name from Captain Mathew Flinders when he took shelter during a storm when exploring the southern parts of Oz
There was plenty to explore around Cape Le Grand, like this area called Thistle Cove - a moderately easy 1.5 hr walk from Lucky Bay up & over more boulders.
We took a drive to Hellfire Bay. Doesn't that water look beautiful against the granite.
Mt Le Grand was just another large round boulder in the ground that happened to be 345 mtrs high.
Cape Le Grand beach was just another white sand beach that stretched for 20 - 40 kms towards Esperance. No pics of these as they didn't look as special as the above pics :))
On our way back from Cape Le Grand, we stopped for me to take a look at a lake near the road not far from Esperance. To my amazement there were hundreds of black swans in various sizes................, some ducks & pelicans, but mostly swans. This is just 1 section of them.
That's all for the southern parts of WA. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring it all - well apart from the chilly windy weather - even in the national parks.
Next is Kalgoorlie & The Nullabor Plains.