17 December, 2019 By: Tatum Stafford
As home to one of Australia’s best beaches, the Esperance region has a lot going on when it comes to natural attractions. The coast here changes from rugged cliffs to sweeping bays with crystal clear water and pristine national parks.
Throw in art galleries, tourist drives and a farmers’ market and you’ve got a new must-visit destination in WA. Now all that’s left to do is plan your itinerary. Here are 10 of the best things to do in and around Esperance.
1. Climb to the summit of Frenchman Peak
Situated within the Cape Le Grand National Park, Frenchman Peak is 262m high and takes around one hour to climb. The trail is made up of wooden boardwalks, gravel paths and steep, smooth granite rock. Because parts of the path can be challenging to walk, it’s a good idea to check a walk trail guide before you go so you know what you’re up for.
Make it through the 3km round trip via the Peak’s east slope and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the southern coastline, the National Park and islands in the nearby Recherche Archipelago.
2. Complete the tourist loop of the Great Ocean Drive
The Great Ocean Drive begins only a few kilometres from the Esperance town centre. The full drive is 38km and showcases some of the region’s stunning coastal scenery. If you want to see it close up, there are also cycling and walking paths all the way from the Esperance Esplanade to the picturesque Twilight Cove.
Popular swimming spots on the route include Blue Haven Beach, Twilight Cove and Salmon Beach. And for those keen on snorkelling, the rock pools at Nine Mile Beach are a perfect stop-off.
3. Meet the kangaroos at Lucky Bay
Lucky Bay has also put Esperance on the global map thanks to flocks of western grey kangaroos who like to visit – and often, sunbathe. You can usually spot them lying on the grassed area or on the sand. If you see some on the beach approach them cautiously. They may look relaxed, but they are wild animals and their movements can be unpredictable.
4. Spend the day at Woody Island
Just 15km off the coast of Esperance, Woody Island is the perfect destination for those wanting to get closer to nature. Speckled with swimming bays, bush walks, snorkelling trails and fishing spots, a trip to this lush island is the perfect one-day getaway and is particularly good for families.
It takes approximately an hour by ferry to reach the Woody Island jetty. The island is only 1.5km in length, so it’s best to start at the furthest point and make your way back from there. You can start at the Twiggy’s Landing lookout, then head to the cheekily-named Skinny Dip Bay for a peaceful walk and a swim, ending with a sunset snorkel at Shearwater Bay.
5. See local artist Cindy Poole at work
The award-winning Cindy Poole Glass Gallery is only five minutes from town and home to an impressive range of contemporary, kiln-formed glass objects. Cindy’s most renowned work is the Esperance Whale Tail Sculpture, a public art project symbolic of the ocean’s importance to the prosperity of the town.
Cindy works at the Gallery’s adjoining studio space daily so visitors can see her at work creating her collection of glass artworks, jewellery and sand-filled glass souvenirs. The Gallery is open most days, but it is recommended to ring ahead to check with Cindy before planning a visit.
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6. View Lake Hillier from above
Lake Hillier (or the ‘Pink Lake’) is of WA’s most photographed and recognisable landmarks. Situated on Middle Island within the Recherche Archipelago, the Lake is landlocked, making the stunning pink salt stand out even more in contrast with the white sand and turquoise waters surrounding it.
Though you can view it by boat, the best way to view Lake Hillier is from above. Take a scenic flight in a light plane or helicopter to see this naturally-occurring beauty for yourself.
7. Visit WA's Stonehenge
Esperance Stonehenge is the only full-size replica of the original Stonehenge in the UK. Formed using 137 slabs of Esperance Pink Granite, this Stonehenge was built to align with the Summer and Winter Solstices in Esperance in December and June respectively.
The stones are visible from the road but you can also go for a stroll in the paddock to get a close-up photo. You’ll find Stonehenge a short 15-minute drive from the Esperance town centre. While you’re there, check out the gift shop with its quirky memorabilia of both the original and the Esperance Stonehenge.
8. Explore Cape Le Grand National Park
Cape Le Grand National Park is a pristine, coastal Park that is home to snow-white beaches, rugged peaks and plenty of swimming, bushwalking, camping and fishing spots. As there’s lots to explore, make the most of your trip by taking a walk on the Le Grand Coastal Trail between Le Grand Beach and Rossiter Bay, picnicking overlooking Hellfire or Lucky Bay and throwing a line in at Dunn Rocks.
The Park is 50km east of Esperance and can be easily accessed via a sealed road. Once you arrive, there are many walk trails of different lengths that take you past the Park’s main attractions.
9. Ride the Esperance Mountain Bike Track
Commonly referred to as ‘The Piggery’, the Esperance Mountain Bike Track is a scenic purpose-built track 14km north of Esperance township. Berms, jumps and other trail features are scattered across the 13.5km loop that’s also suitable for beginners.
Members of the Esperance Mountain Bike Association are frequent users of the trail, but happily welcome tourists and locals for a ride on this thrilling trail.
10. Stock up at the Esperance Grower's Market
The Esperance Grower’s Market is an Esperance institution, having hosted regular market events for close to a decade. Held fortnightly from 9am to 12pm at the Esperance Scout Hall, the Market offers a range of local goodies including organic produce, fresh bread and pastries, coffee, flowers and preserves.
The Market is free for all gardeners, growers and hobby farmers to participate in. Visitors can expect a truly unique and personable experience, as many producers are willing to share insider knowledge about the growing cycle of the goods they’re selling. But if you’re planning to visit, get in early – some growers are known to sell out!
Inspired to book your Esperance getaway?
RAC members save up to 20% on accommodation at RAC Esperance Holiday Park.