After Kalgoorlie I headed south towards the costal town of Esperance. This is around a 400 kilometres drive.
Almost exactly half way there you will come to the town of Norseman. Norseman makes a great little break/lunch stop.
It is a small town with a supermarket and a couple of cafes. You can drive up a steep hill to the town’s lookout – Beacon Point – where there is a carpark, picnic benches and a short well-marked walk out of the car parking area, just right to blow the cobwebs off and reenergise you for the rest of the drive.
I stopped here and ate my little packed lunch before carrying on with the rest of the journey.
The drive into Esperance felt long, with no mobile reception and barely another car on the road. Just when I felt like I was never going to get there my phone suddenly pinged into life and there was the sea on the horizon.
Esperance is a small slightly arty town on the south coast of Western Australia. It has a small strip of hotels along the sea front, a high street full of shops on the next street back and the usual things you’d expect to find in a town of this size (i.e. there is a McDonald’s, Subway sandwich shop, Woolworths, etc).
I stayed here three days/four nights. I was struggling to fill the third day but really only because the weather was bad.
It is possible to get a bus here from Perth, but there is not much to do in the town itself and no public transport system. The tourist office offer some excursions, but only if they reach the minimum persons required to run. You need a car here.
What to do around Esperance
Esperance is famous for its pink lake. Spoiler alert: the lake is not pink but just a murky grey. There is a board explaining why pink lake isn’t pink anymore (it’s to do with building a road between the two lakes and changing the eco system).
If you are desperate to see a pink lake, one of the outlying islands has a genuine one. However you are not allowed access to the island and the only way to see it is to take a plane or helicopter ride over.
Tourist Loop Drive
Luckily the surrounding beaches more than compensates for the lack of the pink lake. There is a 40 km drive you can do along a loop road, known as Great Ocean Drive, which takes you along the coast and back past the pink lake. I spent a day doing this; you could do it in half a day it just depends how long you want to spend at each stop. There are lots of pretty little coves, all with really pristine white sand, some lookout points, some walks and a collection of wind turbines to enjoy along this route.
Cape Le Grande
The other main thing to do in Esperance is to visit the Cape Le Grand National Park around 50 kilometres away to the East.
Cape Le Grande contains a few beaches and some great walks. The most famous beach is Lucky Bay. Lucky Bay boasts incredibly white sand which crunches under your feet like a warm version of snow.
It also boasts some friendly little kangaroos, who come right up onto the beach and hang out with you. This place certainly was the highlight of my trip to Esperance.
If you are looking to make a quick stop on the way to the National Park, there is Esperance’s tribute act to Stonehenge. Made with local pink granite, this Stonehenge has all its stones intact. It is aligned with the solstice, just like the real thing but offers far better photo opportunities than the real one, with no crowds, no barriers and no ridiculously high entrance fee.
Other things to do/see
There is a museum and heritage trail. I was there for Sunday market (doesn’t run every Sunday so you need to check) but really it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I spent an hour here, including a stop for breakfast.
There are a number of small artisan workshops that you can visit. To be honest, I only did this because it was raining on my last day there and I was looking for rain-friendly activities. Prices are high if you want to buy things, but you are paying for handmade quality products.
About the most interesting was Mermaid Leather, where they make leather out of fish skins and then sell various products made from this leather. There is a short video that you can watch there about the process and then, of course, a shop. I didn’t buy anything but I do think it’s interesting how they are finding ways not to waste anything at all from the fish. And, no, the leather doesn’t smell of fish.