Our journey to Esperance started early, and was delayed by a flood near Ravensthorpe. This meant we had to take a very cautious 7km detour over a gravel track, which luckily the van seemed to survive unscathed. Amazingly the sat nav’s paved alternative to this was a 11 hour detour!
An hour further east from Esperance is the Cape Le Grand National Park, which we made our first stop. Entrance to the huge park was a very reasonable $12(£7.50) per vehicle. Given our limited time, we only visited the park’s most well known beaches but we could have easily spent a full day or more there.
Lucky bay is the parks most popular attraction and it was immediately obvious why. The beach has been voted the whitest beach in Australia, with both the sand and clear blue water glistening in the sunlight. It really has to be seen to be believed, with the photos barely doing it justice.
The sand is so fine and compact it squeaks as you walk on it, and you can even drive across it (4×4 only, we didn’t risk the van). We walked the 1.5km across the length of the beach, reaching a viewing platform from where the views were even more impressive.
Just a five minute drive around the coastline is Hells Cove, where we also made a quick stop. Yet again we were greeted with perfect white sand and clear blue water. The only thing making the cove seem less stunning, was that it has the misfortune of being right next to Lucky Bay.
We spent the afternoon completing the 32km Ocean Drive, which starts and finishes in the centre of Esperance and takes you on a tour of even more of the areas incredible beaches.
Highlights included the huge West beach as well as Twilight beach, which was voted Australia’s best in 2006 – Lucky Bay can’t have been entered that year!
The best views were to be found from the wooden platform of the observation point where you get an incredible panoramic view of the surrounding coastline. The sort of place you could easily spend a long time just sitting and watching the waves.
The stops on the route also include the Pink Lake, which we were confused and disappointed to find was actually a very normal shade of blue. The type of algae that makes the huge salt lake appear pink only does so in very high temperatures, whereas for our visit it was a rather chilly 27 degrees
We ended the day at a campsite in Salmon Gums, by far the best town name we have come across to date. As we drove into the town we were treated to another incredible sunset across the salt pans alongside the road.
Later than night we ventured into the towns only pub, which was surprisingly friendly. We met some fellow campers, who invited us to join a campfire singsong that evening. This involved us sitting around a fire pit singing along as the very talented Bruce playing hits such as American Pie and Wonderwall on his guitar.