After our week traveling across the Nullarbor, we were pleased to see the beautiful turquoise waters of Esperance – oh, and water you can drink and a shower block free of an armada of biting flying insects.
We had a great few days in and around Esperance. We stayed at a small caravan park near the beach. It was a nice enough park, although the park manager had the disposition of Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson from Prisoner and an unnatural fixation with the state of the lawns in the caravan park. These traits seem common for caravan park managers.
We explored the town, saw a movie, played in the parks along the esplanade and went on the miniature train near the port. After a week across the Nullarbor, we ate lots of fresh vegetables and drank lots of coffee!
After a couple of overcast days, we drove along the spectacular Southern Ocean Drive under clear skies. Impossibly white beaches meet clear turquoise waters and beautiful red rocks and cliffs. We spent the afternoon swimming at Twilight Beach. As the pictures attest, I even managed to christen my boogie board – yes, after hauling my boogie board over 7,500km, it finally got wet. My dreams of being a cool surfer dude were squashed as I struggled to catch 2-foot waves in amongst a group of primary school kids.
Next we headed out to Cape Le Grand National Park – about 45 min east of Esperance. Large granite peaks rise out of the plains and create a series of beautiful bays and beaches, all with the trademark clear turquoise water and pristine white beaches. We had lunch at Lucky Bay and explored the sand dunes. In the afternoon, the kids and Karen headed to Cape Le Grand while I headed up to the top of Frenchman’s Peak (a 262m high granite peak that provides spectacular views of the area).
From Esperance we headed to Hopetoun – a pretty, small seaside town on the edge of the Fitzgerald River National Park. This area was badly affected by the flooding in February, with large sections of roads washed away. And true to form, we arrived ahead of a major fishing competition! The kids had a ball exploring the long wild beaches and sand dunes.
During our planning for our trip, I had completely over-looked Easter. More specifically, I had little idea that most of Perth heads south for Easter – seemingly booking out every available campground along the south coast. After some searching, we found a bush camp available at the Quaalup Homestead on the western edge of the Fitzgerald River National Park. So, on Good Friday, we headed a couple of hours west from Hopetoun to Quaalup – the last 10 km were bone shatteringly corrugated.
Quaalup Homestead was built in 1858 and now includes a few cabins and a small number of bush campsites. While the facilities were pretty basic, the kids enjoyed the bush walks around the property. Oh, and Easter eggs. Luckily, the Easter Bunny found its way to Quaalup!
On Easter Sunday we had planned to visit Point Ann – which is one of only two nurseries for southern right whales in Australia. Unfortunately the road was closed and so we decided to take the 12km 4WD track from the homestead to the beach. What ensued was an epic journey through the worst corrugations we have encountered, rocks and sand… lots of sand. After lunch at the beach we contemplated the return journey. The track could only just fit one car (we have the scratches to prove it). Looking at each other, we simultaneously said: “I hope we don’t meet anyone coming the other way”. Sure enough, we encountered two 4WDs in convoy coming the other way leading us to ‘beach’ the Landcruiser on a small sand bank next to the track. You know it is tight when the passenger of the vehicle passing you had their hands over their eyes. Luckily we all got through OK… just.
And so, this morning, we finished our Easter with a three-hour drive west to Albany. We have a few days in Albany before continuing our journey along the south-west coast.
Cape Le Grand National Park
Quaalup Homestead & Fitzgerald River National Park