Esperance Explorer From Perth in Ten Days
If you’re looking for things to do around Australia’s Golden Outback, here’s where I would go on a 10-day journey.
Australia’s Golden Outback stretches from Mount Augustus and the stunning Kennedy Range in the north to the southern beaches of Esperance where I grew up. It covers some of the most amazing landscapes and incredible coastlines – perhaps the best in the country. It’s very biodiverse as well, and endlessly surprising – you never know what to expect.
I lived in Melbourne for five or six years before taking a year off and travelling around Australia looking for another place to live. In the end I came back to Esperance. It’s just such a lovely spot to live and it’s a great place for the kids to grow up.
Fitzgerald River National Park
First, if you’re coming from Perth, stop and spend the night at Fitzgerald River National Park, about 200km out of Esperance, in Hopetoun. It’s kind of a little town, with one pub and maybe 1400 people. There are lots of camping sites in the National Park and it’s a magical spot with wonderful lookouts. It’s very, very pure.
Next, on to Esperance to spend two nights exploring the town. The coastline and the beaches are incredible. Two or three days wouldn’t be enough, obviously, there’s a lot to do!
There’s a 38km tourist drive called the Great Ocean Drive that goes right around the coast and back in to Esperance. There are half a dozen, maybe 10 beaches – all different and all wonderful. It’s definitely worth checking out.
There aren’t many other places in the world where you can get so close to nature. There are kangaroos, dolphins, seals and whales. In wildflower season you’ve got lots of orchids and native plants flowering away. We went for a scuba dive the other day and a pod of dolphins popped up just metres away and started mimicking us – we’d turn our heads and they’d turn theirs. It just wonderful to see them swim along with us.
When you’re ready to move on from Esperance, stock up on supplies and head out to Lucky Bay for a few nights.
Lucky Bay is the reason most people come to Esperance. It’s absolutely sensational. Even the kangaroos like to hang out on the beach. All the campsites, which they’ve just spent a lot of money doing up, have ocean views and it is a really, really popular spot. It’s part of the Cape Le Grand National Park, which is unlike anything else in the world. It’s easy to spend three days exploring the hills, nature walks and beaches.
Lucky Bay is only half an hour from Esperance and is one of my favourite camping spots. The sand is crushed quartz, so not only is it very white, it’s really pure as well – in fact it won ‘Whitest Sand in Australia’ a few years ago. Because of the white sand, the water is the bluest blue and so crystal clear you could drink it if it wasn’t salty. Even though I grew up here, the intense blue of the water just knocked me over when I came back to Esperance after so long away.
Cape Arid National Park
Cape Arid is a favourite of mine. It’s an hour east of Lucky Bay, and a great spot for adventure. There’s lots of beach driving, some wonderful campsites and sensational fishing – the locals go there for shark fishing! Come September, it’s also one of the best spots, if not the best, to spot humpbacks and southern right whales.
Back to Esperance
On your way back to Perth, stop in Esperance for a night to catch your breath and break up the drive. The Pier Hotel is one of the main pubs, and a great place for dinner, and we’ve got a really nice restaurant called the Loose Goose.
When the salmon run, we go out in the evening, light a fire on the beach and go salmon fishing until it gets dark. It’s just fantastic – the kids play, there’s a bit of warmth from the fire, and we get great sunsets. Out here, the detail in the night sky is amazing.