Tag Archives: Esperance

10 – I’m glad I brought my leather jacket

The Esperance beach front

The Esperance beach front

Esperance was cold. I suppose it’s to be expected. Next land straight ahead is Antarctica, and the wind made sure we knew about it. Still, there was the occasional bit of sunshine. We spent a few wonderful days with our friends on the farm. Pete messed about with the blokes doing blokey things with sheep and vehicles, while I spent the days with Charlotte. I think the most exciting thing we did was empty the aquarium. Apart from that we talked a lot.

I’ve known Joe and Charlotte since before they were married – yes, as long as that. We drifted apart for many years and it’s cute how we hooked up again. Pete and I were driving somewhere and the country hour was on. The broadcast included an interview with an Esperance farmer – and it was Charlotte. I looked her up on Facebook, and that was that. We stayed a few nights when we did our 2013 road trip. It wasn’t exactly hot then either, but it was a damn sight warmer than this visit.

Never mind. The scenery was as lovely as ever, though the photos come out better without the rain. You can check out the 2013 post here.

Seriously, nature lovers – come and visit Esperance. You’ll be glad you did. Turquoise water, silicon-loaded sand that squeaks under your feet and kilometers of bush walks overlooking the sea. You might come across a seal, and you can take trips around the islands.

And here’s a few photos.

Twilight cove

Twilight cove

It's raining on the horizon

It’s raining on the horizon

Beach at the Duke of Orleans

Wharton Beach at the Duke of Orleans

Banksias, rock and ocean

Banksias, rock and ocean at Little Wharton

Another view of Wharton beach

Another view of Wharton beach

Nature paints the rocks up here

Nature paints the rocks up here

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Wharton beach from up high

Sunset on the canola

Sunset on the canola

 

Chasing rainbows

Esperance showing the Recherche Archipelago

Esperance showing the Recherche Archipelago

Esperance is down on the southern West Australian coastline, an absolute jewel for those willing to take the time to visit. Showers accompany us along the road from Albany and rainbows appear – on both sides of the road. By this time the Pajero’s windscreen resembles the surface of Mars, with a sprinkling of craters and two cracks that inch a little further every day. It has also acquired a patina of insect bodies but even so, this rainbow is a jewel.Rainbow 1

The full arc of the rainbow through grubby glass

The full arc of the rainbow through grubby glass

We’re staying with friends I haven’t seen for twenty years, but we reconnected via Face Book and I’m looking forward to the visit. Needless to say, our sat nav isn’t much help to navigate to a farm but we follow the instructions given on the phone and find the farm entrance just on sunset. Yes, this is the right track. Well graded gravel, even the zig-zags between the wide puddles. It has been wet wet wet here. A couple of kilometres from the gate we find the third house and I get out to check we’re at the right place. We are.

The canola crop is ruined.

The canola crop is ruined.

We stay for three nights. Joe and Charlotte and their eldest son farm 23,000 acres where they plant canola and raise cattle and sheep. Their machinery shed is mind-boggling. They have headers and bull dozers and road trains and ploughs and I forget what else. The big machines cost close to a million dollars each, mostly high-tech with computer controlled functionality and air-conditioned cabs (the headers, anyway). Pete is fascinated by the sheer scale of the operation. It costs $3 million to plant a crop, and they might make $5 million. If they get to harvest. This season will be poor. Australia runs in cycles of flood and drought, and this year has been the wettest for decades. The canola stands in shallow lakes, the yellow flowers reflecting prettily in the water.

There’s always work on a farm and Pete goes to help the boys bring in sheep while Charlotte and I go off to do the tourist thing at an area called Duke of Orleans. The scenery here is breath-taking. The granite outcrops are just as spectacular as they are in Albany, but the rock seems more colourful. The sea is turquoise blue, and the beaches are brilliant white, full of silicon. The sand literally squeaks under your feet as you walk. The islands of the Recherche Archipelago dot the ocean, steep granite mounds, such a contrast to the pancake-flat platforms of the Abrolhos Islands. It’s late in the day, and the showers have stopped, although clouds still drift across the sky in groups and the wind is fresh, whisking up the white caps. I manage a few reasonable pictures and then we head for home, talking all the while.

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Next day, Joe takes us out to a granite outcrop at the top of a hill to see if we can find some orchids. It’s quite an adventure. The paddock we cross is waterlogged and despite High rock Esperance1the four wheel drive, Charlotte is not the only one who wonders if we’ll be pushing the car. Oh we of little faith. We’re a little bit early for the orchids but a few have shown their faces. These outcrops are baking hot in summer. Only the toughest plants, like the dryandra, can survive. The delicate orchids wait their turn with the mosses and lichens, responding to the first rains. Charlotte tells me her oldest son was married here, overlooking the land. What a place for a wedding.

Flowers on the rocky outcrop

Flowers on the rocky outcrop

While Joe and his son move another mob of sheep, Pete fixes Charlotte’s ride-on mower and Charlotte and I drive out to Cape Le Grande. You’ve probably noticed the French place names. The French poked around the Australian coast many times, in lots of places but they seem to have left their mark especially around that southern coast. Bruni d’Entrecasteaux visited this area in 1792, and named both Esperance and Recherche after ships in his expedition. The weather is stunning, with blue skies and light breezes, an absolute invitation to climb on the rocks and walk on the beaches. We admire the scenery and the wild flowers, and encounter a kangaroo fossicking around on the beach. She seems untroubled by our presence, apparently grazing on something. We have no idea what.Esperance beachA roo on beach

Looking over the sea at the islands I’m reminded of a story I read somewhere, that a black American pirate operated out of here. My recollection is correct. Here’s the story of Black Jack Anderson Australia’s only known pirate.

From here we’ll be heading for home, east across the Nullarbor. Join us, won’t you?