Photo Essay: Esperance and the Golden Outback in 10 Must DoExperiences
Escape to exotic beaches and one of the last true wilderness areas on Earth.
As you leave Perth’s cityscape and enter the Golden Outback, the horizons spread ever wider and your view is ever-changing. Rolling fields of wheat, wildflowers and striking granite rock formations give way to enchanting wandoo woodlands. Continue on through vast salt lakes and outback plains, and you’ll discover the legacies of gold rush pioneers, incredible wildlife encounters and some of the whitest beaches on Earth.
Step out onto the vast salt bed of Lake Ballard in the early morning or late afternoon, and watch the light play and shadows shift across the 51 steel sculptures that transform this landscape into one of the world’s largest outdoor galleries. For a fantastic overview, climb the hill and see the sculptures disappearing into the distance, each connected by the footprints of visitors.
Follow the spring wildflower trail to the north-west Goldfields and keep your eyes on the horizon as the world’s largest rock monolith rises from the outback plain. Twice the size of Uluru, Mount Augustus has an 860-metre-high summit to climb and a 49-kilometre scenic base trail. Catch the light display at sunrise and sunset, and you’ll see the colours change from cool greens and blues to golden glows.
Head south to Esperance and the view changes dramatically again. Passing a string of picturesque bays, where vivid turquoise waters contrast with rust-red granite outcrops, you’ll reach the whitest beach in Australia, Lucky Bay. And while you sit on the squeaky-clean sands admiring the seascape of the Recherche Archipelago, don’t be surprised if you’re joined by some of the friendly resident kangaroos.
Here are some of our top Golden Outback moments.
Seeing Australia’s biggest rock surrounded by carpets of wildflowercolour
After good winter rains, it’s possible to see the world’s largest rock monolith surrounded by a sea of purple as the largest collection of wildflowers on Earth begins to bloom and transform the vast outback plains with a plethora of colours.
Taking a detour to snap some of the quirkiest roadsideart
Many Kulin locals have expressed their creativity in their own paddocks with a series of kooky horse sculptures. Known locally as the ‘Tin Horse Highway’ their eclectic collection of art stretches along 12 kilometres of road, and makes a fun detour on the way to Wave Rock or Esperance.
Seeing in the solstice as the Celtic Druids did at Esperance's own StoneHenge
See all the wonder of a winter or summer solstice shining through a stone altar as it would have in 1950 BC. These gigantic stones of Esperance Pink Granite create the only full size replica of the original Stonehenge.
Seeing the gold rush ghost towns and imagining yourself as an early pioneer, seeking your fortune in theGoldfields.
Walking through the restored precinct of miners’ cottages, huts and shops, the Gwalia Museum and the historic Sons of Gwalia gold mine, it’s easy to picture what life may have been like if you’d landed in Western Australia’s Goldfields during the gold rush of the late 1800s.
Pose on the rock face and surf a 15-metre-high solid granitewave
The remarkable Wave Rock crests above the vast outback plain, and has been over 2,700 million years in the making. Visit after the winter rains, and you’ll see the wave surrounded by a sea of colourful wildflowers.
Finding your own ‘caveman room with a view’ looking out over 110 untouchedislands
Climbing Frenchman’s Peak, 35 minutes from Esperance, rewards you with incredible views of Cape Le Grand’s stunning seascape. From the mouth of the cave at the summit, imagine the scene over 40 million years ago, when the sea was at least 300 metres above the current level, and the peak was an island.
Saying hi to the resident kangaroos of Australia’s whitest beach at LuckyBay
There aren’t too many places in Australia where you’ll find kangaroos just hanging out at the beach, but it’s part of their daily ritual at Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park. And they’re quite happy to come up and say hi, especially the more curious youngsters.
Taking an aerial tour over the brightest bubblegum-pink lake onEarth
No filters are required on a scenic flight over the pristine wilderness of Esperance’s Recherche Archipelago. The spectacle of Lake Hillier’s strawberry milkshake-coloured waters creates the most striking contrast against the deep blues of the Southern Ocean surrounding Middle Island.
Taking a moment to feel the Earth turn, surrounded by a billionstars
Make the half-hour drive from Esperance in the late afternoon to reach Cape Le Grand National Park as the sun sets over the Recherche Archipelago, and watch the stars and constellations stretch across the vast outback sky.
Finding the one that looks like you in one of the world’s largest outdoorgalleries
In the early morning or late afternoon, as the shadows stretch across the vast white salt plain at Lake Ballard, it’s the perfect time to explore and photograph the Inside Australia exhibit – 51 individually cast steel sculptures stretching across 10 square kilometres by Antony Gormley.
We embarked upon the 400km red earth road to Western Australia’s highest peak, Mt Augustus. We were blessed with a timeless scene; a magnificent view of the world’s largest rock slowly transforming through a medley of reds in the morning light.
Fleur Bainger is a freelance travel and food journalist. She lives in the inner-city village of Leederville, which she loves for its wide open spaces, hip cafes and boutique clothing shops. Here she shares her local tips if you've got three days to spend in Perth.