Our plan for this morning had been a 3 hour scenic wildlife cruise in the archipelago. A couple of days ago I had a message from the cruise company asking if we could go on Monday (yesterday) because the forecast for today was not good. Unfortunately we did not have that flexibility in our arrangements and cancellation of the cruise for today was confirmed yesterday. This morning was cloudy and the gusty wind was building. It was not a good day to be on the water.
We had a slow start, sleeping until 7 am. While Majella showered I washed a little of the accumulated dust off the car. Majella poached a couple of Roslyn’s eggs to add to our breakfast. Then we relaxed some more until John and Lynne joined us around 9 am.
Our plan for the afternoon had been to drive to Cape Le Grand National Park. We advanced that to the morning and Majella drove us east after filling up with fuel.
Access to Cape Le Grand is about 50 km east and south of Esperance and then the road runs further east through the park with side roads to access different inlets. The beaches are famous for their white sand and turquoise water and we learned from signage in the park that the whiteness results from the quartz sand derived from the surrounding granite being ground fine over time with its surfaces roughened. The colour of the clear water is enhanced by the whiteness of the sand.
Entrance to the park was monitored for entry fees but our pass took care of that. A little way down the entrance road, Majella spotted one of the mallee bushes with the four winged red blossoms so we stopped for a closer look.
Majella had expressed concern that the overcast sky might mute the colours of sand and water. Her fears were confirmed by the colours of the sea at Cape Le Grand Beach, our first stop. We walked down to the beach but were almost blown back up by the gusty wind. We were glad not to be out on the water today.
Majella drove back up the road and turned right past Frenchman Peak, named for the rock at top that looks like the cap worn by French revolutionaries, toward Lucky Bay. We took the side road to Hellfire Bay where we found a well set up visitor facility with covered area and extensive brick tiling. Perhaps the clouds were letting more sunlight through at that point; the colour of the water was much more what Majella had been hoping to see, turquoise against the white sand. We walked on the beach and nearby rocks for a while there before moving on.
The next side road led to Thistle Cove, named for John Thistle who had been on Flinders’ expedition and found fresh water in that location. There were more turquoise waters and white sands, granite rocks, wildflowers, and a monitor lizard that somebody drew our attention to.
Our final stop in the park was at Lucky Bay where there was a wide expanse of the whitest sand with waves breaking onto it from the turquoise sea. The foreshore had a variety of flowers, including some we had not seen previously.
We drove back into Esperance, happy to have seen some of what the park had to offer though perhaps not at its best in the overcast and very windy conditions. Lunch was at the Pier Hotel where Majella ate salmon bruschetta, Lynne ate grilled fish, John ate fish taco, and I ate a burger that was large enough to challenge my dexterity in managing to eat it as well as my capacity.
After lunch John and I walked about a kilometre to the jetty, out to the end of the 415 metre curved jetty, and back to the hotel. The jetty had originally been built in timber and extended at various times over the past century and a half. Most recently it had been used for the import of oil from tankers but that use had been taken over by the new port. Teredo worm and the elements had caused it to become unsafe so it was removed and a new steel and concrete structure was opened in 2021.
Meanwhile, Majella and Lynne had explored some shops but they were back at the car when we returned. Majella had been in touch with Roslyn and had arranged for us to go to her place after 3:15 pm.
That left a little more than an hour to fill which we did by taking the Great Ocean Drive. Majella drove west to Dempster lookout where we paused to climb the tower and then on along the coast past several beaches. We paused at some for a closer look. The wind farm was listed as a feature and signposted but the viewing point was adjacent to three tall towers with no blades and showing signs of wear. We found later that when it was established in 1993 it was the first wind farm in Australia but those elements were decommissioned in 2003 as they aged and better equipment became available. Esperance is not connected to the grid so its power is generated locally using wind and gas turbines.
On the way back toward Esperance we passed the Pink Lake which is no longer pink. That is a consequence of its salinity being decreased through removal of salt by mining and an increased inflow of fresh water from the adjacent wetlands.
We were back in time to visit Roslyn just after 3:15 pm. Mothers were still collecting children from her home daycare but that was soon done and we spent time visiting with Roslyn, her daughter Leearrah, and grandchildren Ada and Leo. Ada had been in daycare and had helped Roslyn to bake some muffins that she served with tea and coffee. We enjoyed those as we talked and played with the children.
Back at our accommodation we decided that none of us needed dinner after a large lunch. Instead Lynne and John joined us for snacks at 5:30 pm. We enjoyed conversation with wine, cider, cheese, crackers, dips, and hardboiled eggs until it was time to part a little before 7 pm. We have distance to cover tomorrow and will want an early start.