Northern Beaches, and Cape Le Grand National Park

Esperance Travel Blog

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We started the day driving the Great Ocean Drive, not to be confused with the Great Ocean Road. The drive takes in the 10 beaches in northern Esperance, though we only did the first few; First Beach, Salmon Beach, Twilight Beach and the look-out over the coastline. It was a beautiful day, but we could see a long line of clouds obscuring the horizon so we raced back to town to grab stuff for lunch and started the drive to Cape Le Grand National Park.


By the time we arrived it had clouded over, so it was the perfect time to do the 3km hike up Frenchman's Peak, while it was cooler. The hike was a little nerve-wracking, being over such steep granite, it was almost like rock-climbing at times, and my vertigo almost made me turn back in fear of not being able to get down again. I'm so glad I carried on though, because what awaited me was one of the most beautiful things I've seen in Australia.


At the top of the rocky hill, there is a wide cave that overlooks and frames the beautiful landscape. The cave itself is very important to the Aboriginals, and I can see why anyone would be drawn to such an outstandingly beautiful place. It would have provided a shelter, both physical, and spiritual. Certainly I felt deep in myself that such an experience was enriching for my soul and I spent as much time as I could sitting in the centre of the cave staring out at the view.


We walked above the cave to the summit, where you could get a 360 degree view of the hills and mountains, coastline and disappearing inland landscape. It was pretty windy up top though, so I returned to the cave for a time, where I felt it was still more beautiful, before eventually we had to start the steep downhill walk.


The walk down wasn't anywhere near as frightening as I expected, and the steep bits I had been most afraid of returning by I didn't notice. I was so reluctant to leave the hill that I sat again on the steep incline and looked out on the view, trying to commit it to memory. Before finally we had to return to feed the clamouring bus passengers who were no doubt hungry by now.


We drove the short drive to Hellfire beach, a beautiful beach of brilliant white sand, crystal clear blue water. The sand was as fine as icing sugar and it squeaked if you kicked it or slid your toes across it. 'Squeaky clean white beaches' so the book tells you. After a barbecued lunch, we relaxed after our early starts on the tour and most people fell asleep on the sand for the afternoon, played football or swam. The water was icy cold, but despite my usual reluctance to get in cold water, the heat and beauty of beaches in Australia have definitely changed my refusals to a more determined attitude. I splashed into the water at high speed and splashed everyone else venturing tentatively, until we were all shivering and gasping, fully submerged. The water warmed up eventually!


We found a whale bone at the far end of the beach; the jaw bone of a giant Southern Right whale. Shortly after we drove to Lucky Bay, though it was too windy to be comfortable, so we drove to Thistle Cove, a more secluded beach for the rest of the afternoon.


Back at the hostel we rushed to get ready for our 'final night' dinner. We had booked at the Pier Hotel next door to the Blue Waters Hostel where we were staying, and I satisfied a long-held craving for a roast dinner. It was damn good at only $13.50 for as much as you could eat, though we could only eat one plateful! Although several people said they were not up for drinking, we managed to convince them to come down to the pub for 'one' and Sandra, Deborah, Darren and I had a very amusing couple of hours playing pool and putting stuff on the jukebox while the others drank in the non-smoking area.


Back at the hostel we all sat outside in the central courtyard chatting till around midnight when we all turned in eventually in preparation for our 6am start tomorrow to drive back to Perth.


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photo by: surfoz