The signature powdery white sands and bright blue water ensure Esperance’s beaches consistently rate among the world’s best. Check out the picture perfect Twilight Beach, as well as West Beach in Hopetoun. Hellfire Bay and Lucky Bay out at Cape Le Grand National Park all have phenomenal beaches with that same trademark squeaking sand. Follow the Southern Ocean Road east of Hopetoun to breathtaking granite coastal lookouts and beaches with quiet pools for fishing or swimming, including Mason Bay and Starvation Bay. You’ll want to stay a few weeks.
Your experience here will be nature-based, whether you’re whale-watching, admiring the multitudes of colourful springtime wildflowers, or spotting frolicking sea lions in the waters around the Esperance town jetty and foreshore, or surfing West Beach. Set on Mary Ann Haven, its south-facing beach protected by a reef, Hopetoun is a great place to launch a boat, and gateway to the Fitzgerald River National Park Biosphere Reserve, one of WA’s biggest parks, housing 15 per cent of the state’s endemic plant species.
- View the Hopetoun seals at the Southern Ocean Discovery Centre.
- Cruise over to Woody Island for the day or the night.
- Snorkel and dive in some of the best cold-water sites in the world.
- The Esperance Museum features everything from 17th century shipwrecks to space station wreckage.
- Australia’s first windfarm can be found at Esperance’s Ten Mile Lagoon.
- Join the locals by night and catch squid off the floodlit Esperance Jetty.
- Drop in on the resident ‘roos at Lucky Bay, in Cape Le Grand National Park.
- Sunbathe and picnic on Esperance’s enchanting Twilight Beach.
- Hike the 12km Le Grand Coastal Trail.
- Visit the striking replica of the UK’s world-famous Stonehenge… on an Esperance cattle farm.
See more at scooptraveller.com.au/EsperancetoHopetoun.
EAT AND DRINK
In Esperance and Hopetoun you’ll find a good selection of a la carte and fine dining restaurants, cafes, tearooms and seafood eateries, plus fish and chips, counter meals, wood-fired pizzas, light refreshments and gourmet Italian ice-cream. Saturday mornings is market day in Esperance.
For more, visit scooptraveller.com.au/EsperancetoHopetoun.
Fiona Shillington, owner of Esperance Chalet Village
Jump in a 4WD if you can. We often take guests to Cape Le Grand – that experience of flying up the beach as far as the eye can see is quite unique. I love it that I can go to the beach at Christmas, peak time, and have it all to myself.
DO AND SEE
Deep-sea fish species include red snapper, pink snapper, breaksea cod and samson fish, to name just a few. Anglers fishing off the beach or rocks can get stuck into herring, salmon, mulloway, silver trevally, King George whiting and numerous other species that make for good tucker.
Photography Jason Bennée
RECHERCHE NATURE RESERVE
More than 100 islands and 1500 islets less than 1km offshore protect Esperance from the Southern Ocean swells. Take a boat or wildlife cruise through the beautiful archipelago, and view New Zealand fur seals, sea lions, and dolphins. The largest island is Woody Island, and it is accessible to visitors for camping, bushwalks, snorkelling and fishing.
CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK
This stunning park is a major attraction, 70km east of Esperance. Climb Frenchman’s Peak via a steep track for an amazing view. If you have a 4WD, give the 28km Cape Le Grand Beach a go.
Stretching 5km, pristine Lucky Bay is rated one of the country’s best beaches. Chances are you’ll meet kangaroos, or you might see dolphins. Divers can walk in off the beach.
FITZGERALD RIVER NATIONAL PARK
Renowned for rugged scenery and 1800 species of spring wildflowers, the Fitzgerald River divides the national park of the same name. Point Ann and Cave Point are good spots for whale sightings. Safari tours run to the park from Hopetoun.
Lake Hillier on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago is a very ordinary 600m in length, with a typically diverse range of fish. But this little lake is world-famous for its astonishing pink colour. Scientists speculate the stunning rosy hue comes from a pigment created by microalgae in the salt crusts. View Lake Hillier by boat, or by aircraft from above.
TIP Get stuck into herring, salmon, mulloway, silver trevalley, whiting and more…
CROSSING THE NULLARBOR
If you’re up for a road trip, crossing this mesmerising and treeless plain is the quintessential outback experience. Eyre Highway is the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, but if you are well prepared, this road trip is its own reward. Watch wooded hills flatten into plateaus with mobs of kangaroos; visit vast cattle stations, historic homesteads and remote railway outposts; spot rare birds, see whales and catch fishin Fowlers Bay; and sleep overnight in one of the roadhouses or camp under a blanket of bright stars. You’ll need a 4WD to venture through more remote areas.
Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show and Spring Festival
One of the world’s largest displays of wildflowers, with more than 600 specimens in their natural setting and on show. Sep.
Esperance Wildflower Festival
Wildflowers, indigenous plants, craft stalls, photographic exhibitions, school art and musical performances all feature at this festival. Sep.
Festival of the Wind Esperance
Wind is a constant in Esperance and this three-day festival of music, film, food and arts events celebrates the town’s dynamic culture, with a focus on sustainable living. Biennial, Oct.
- Camp within the Cape Le Grand, Fitzgerald and Stokes national parks.
- There are caravan parks in both Esperance and Hopetoun.
- Get to know the locals by staying in one of the many B&Bs or farmstays.
- Self-cater in a holiday house or apartment.
- Find a hotel or motel to suit your budget and level of luxury.
DROP IN ON THE LOCALS
1. Walk trails
- For a short trail try Kep Warri walk in the Esperance Lakes, or Woody Lake Nature Reserve Walk Trail.
- There’s a 12km coastal walk trail at Le Grand beach and Lucky Bay.
- The 8-10km Thomas River trail gives you great vistas of the coastline and passing whales.
2. Whale Watching
From June to October, southern right whales stop in wide sweeping bays where females can calf. Try protected Yokanup Bay, headlands such as Dolphin Cove lookout or Point Anne in Fitzgerald River NP.
3. Spot the Wildlife
Look out for the endemic western ground parrot, and the rare brush wallaby. There’s also a large seal population on the islands, while the whale-watching here is spectacular.
- There are many routes to drive to Esperance – the shortest is 700km from Perth.
- TransWA offers coach services to Esperance, Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun.
TIP The two-day Esperance and Lakes self-drive from Perth takes you on a journey past lakes, historic towns, picturesque farmland and outback wineries.