The isle-wrapped vista surrounding Esperance is one of the dreamiest scenes in Western Australia. With some of the whitest beaches and clearest waters in Australia, this southern gem is worth the drive.
By Fleur Bainger
Remote and utterly remarkable, the town of Esperance has a coastline that would rival any in the world. Fine quartz sands edged by tumbles of rounded boulders meet placid ocean and endless islands. Esperance is also the closest town to the beach of Lucky Bay, where kangaroos regularly come to sunbake on its white sand.
- Spotting sunbathing kangaroos on the sand
- Driving beside hundreds of uninhabited islands
- Discovering coastal Aboriginal culture
How to get there
Things to do and top attractions in Esperance
Explore Esperance town
The town of Esperance faces a scattering of gently sloping islands known as the Recherche Archipelago, and it’s this view that makes the town so beguiling. Stop in at Taylors St Quarters for lunch and gaze out to sea, then drive the 38-kilometre (24-mile) Great Ocean Drive as it loops past a dozen blindingly white, fine sand beaches, motionless bays and fragrant native scrub. Keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the glassy ocean and stop at local favourite, Twilight Beach. For something a bit different, head to the full size Stonehenge replica and finish with dinner at the delicious Loose Goose restaurant.
Meet the sunbathing kangaroos at Lucky Bay
There’s a reason kangaroos lounge on the far end of Lucky Bay. Not only does it have some of Australia’s whitest sand, but its translucent blue waters are more dazzling than a picture perfect postcard. It’s also devoid of any signs of civilisation, other than a campground among the coastal escape. There are free barbecues, solar-heated showers and toilets here. Drive 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of Esperance to find the beach inside Cape Le Grand National Park.
Pretend you’re a castaway on Woody Island
None of Esperance’s 100 islands are inhabited, but you can day trip or stay on Woody Island Nature Reserve, where bushwalking, swimming, snorkelling and fishing are all that matters. Safari huts overlooking the ocean are open during school holiday periods and general camping is open between September and April. Keep an eye out for bandicoots and wallabies – you are likely see many of these.
See the beaches through indigenous eyes
The local Aboriginal people, the Noongar, are deeply connected to the Esperance area’s natural attributes. A Kepa Kurl eco discovery tour with a traditional Aboriginal owner will introduce you to their hunting and gathering practices, honed over millennia. You'll walk along bush trails and begin to see the native bush in a new light, as you spot wildlife along the coastline. You’ll also get to see some of the country’s most southern rock art, taste bush food and drink billy tea. Half and full-day tours run on request, and accommodation pick-up is included.
Marvel at a bubblegum-pink lake
The fuchsia pink water of Lake Hillier needs to be seen to be believed. The lake sits behind a scrubby rise on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, and can be seen on a scenic flight or boat cruise (departures on demand) that stops on the island. As you wander up the walkway towards it, ask about the island’s dark past – it was once home to Australia’s only known pirate Black Jack Anderson, who arrived from Massachusetts in 1826. His campground is still there.
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