A Trip to Esperance, Western Australia, part 1 – Where to stay and the Cape-Le Grand National Park

So many people ask, what is the best time to visit Esperance?  Well that is a very good question, and the answer is not necessarily what most people think!!  Everybody agrees that Esperance is a popular spot for holiday makers throughout the Christmas School holidays, but then what seaside Australian town isn’t?  With Esperance being the closest ocean to inland gold mining capital Kalgoorlie, 400km to the north, it is little wonder that Esperance is a popular destination for vacationing mine workers and their families.

However, while the weather is generally fairly warm around December-January, the water temperature of the Southern Ocean is still far from balmy at that time of year.  So as a personal preference, I have always found the autumn to be the nicest time of year to visit, from March-May.  The water is warmer, the crowds have dissipated, and the winds are much slacker.  You will also find it a lot easier to get accommodation, and as such much easier to get a cheaper accommodation deal!!

There are numerous accommodation options in Esperance, ranging from backpacker hostels such as Esperance YHA, to motels such as Bayview Motel, Best Western Hospitality Inn, going up to The Jetty Resort, Esperance Island View Apartments, and Esperance Chalet Village to name a few.  For those towing a caravan, Pink Lake Caravan Park, and Esperance Bay Caravan Park have several accommodation offerings, and of course there are a lot of holiday houses available to rent also.

So what is there to do in Esperance?  Well unless you plan on staying a month, you won’t be able to see or do it all.  Our recommendation is to start with a scenic flight.  Firstly, because the weather can be very changeable in Esperance, and it would be a shame to arrive on a sunny day, only to miss out on one of the best scenic flights in Australia because you left it until your last day, but also because a scenic flight will give you a great overview of all the beautiful beaches you can visit while you are here.

The surreal Lake Hillier, on Middle Island

The Lake Hillier-Middle Island Scenic Flight is fast becoming a “must-do” attraction in Western Australia.  Lake Hillier, on Middle Island is extremely unique, in that its water is pink, and it stays this colour all year round.  With the green trees, white sand, and turquoise waters of the Southern Ocean only metres away, it is truly something to behold.   You can read up on Lake Hillier at https://scenicflightbooker.com/lake-hillier-why-is-it-pink, or if you just want to book in now to take the flight go to https://scenicflightbooker.com/lake-hillier

So if you have been lucky enough to take the Lake Hillier-Middle Island Scenic Flight, then you are ready to start exploring!!  Esperance is known for its breathtaking scenery, with the whitest beach in Australia, Lucky Bay just a 40 minute drive away in the Cape Le Grand National Park.  You can either go by road, or if you have a good 4x4 and know what you are doing, you can drive all the way along the beach from Esperance….but make sure you check the tides first.  

Lucky Bay, in the Cape Le Grand National Park

The contrasting turquoise waters of Lucky Bay will give you the opportunity to take some amazing photographs, and if that isn’t enough for you, thanks to all the visitors feeding them, there are some very tame Kangaroos on the beach who are more than happy to pose for selfies….as long as you give them something to eat!!  Once you have finished playing with the Kangaroos, get yourself a coffee at the Lucky Bean Café.

While in the Cape Le Grand National Park, there are numerous trails to explore, from the gentle walk from Lucky Bay to Hellfire Bay, to the pretty steep, rocky climb up Frenchman Peak, the prominent pyramid shaped peak that can be seen from town.  Named by Alexander Forrest, surveyor and brother of prominent explorer and colonist John Forrest, because he thought the peak’s shape resembled that of a man wearing a Frenchman’s Cap.  The local Aboriginal’s know the peak as Mandooboornup.  If you are a bit unsteady on your feet I wouldn’t recommend this walk, it requires a decent level of fitness as it is about 3km return, and 262 metres up, but if some steep trails don’t bother you, I can highly recommend it, but try to go as early in the day as possible, the wind tends to pick up late morning and it is very exposed the higher you climb. 

Frenchman Peak as seen from the Lake Hillier-Middle Island Scenic Flight

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top from the carpark, but just before you get to the summit you will find a large cave, that gives a nice view through to coast as it stretches away to the east.  From here, the last part of the climb is a bit hairy in spots, and when you get to the top, you will enjoy unrestricted 360⁰ views.  It was getting pretty blustery by the time we made it to the top, so after a good look around, a drink and a breather, we made our way back down.  It is a lot less strenuous going down the hill but your legs will feel it by the time you get to the bottom!!

If you want to stay on in the park, to do some of the other walking trails or just relax at the beach there is a camping ground at Lucky Bay and also around Le Grand Beach, and from November 1st, Online Bookings are Essential.  Go to https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park-stay to book.   A guide to the Cape Le Grand National Park can be found here https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/cape-le-grand

So that’s it for part 1, stand by for part 2, with more things to see and do on a trip to Esperance!!