Getting Rusty – Cape Le Grand et al.
Pigpen’s trip to the WA lower south-east had been an on-off affair since late January – several times we had postponed due to forecast rain. With a long-weekend at the beginning of March, we did the old “Carpie diem” thing (which I believe means seize the fish) and headed out on the Saturday, just as ex- tropical cyclone Rusty started dumping its water over Esperance. How bad can it be? Or how good – click here see the movie!
Night one we camped at Quagi Beach, a delightful spot 80 kms west of Esperance, enjoying our first Southern Ocean swim in many years – not as cold as we remembered. And it rained …
Sunday saw us heading west, to Alexander Bay 100kms east of Esperance, where we free-camped on the beach without anybody in sight, and dolphins on our doorstep. A near perfect spot, except it rained a little more. On a wonderfully sunny Monday we day-tripped to Cape Arid national park – the Thomas River camping area looked good with two camp sites just off the beach. Further east to Jardee Creek and Poison Creek proved why Cape Arid is so named.
Cape Le Grand national park is extremely popular and it is notoriously difficult to get a camping spot – no free camping allowed. So we started out early, visiting Duke of Orleans Bay and Wharton Beach area on the way, and arrived at the national park gates by 10am – rain has its positives, there were 8 sites available. We checked out Lucky Bay – very crowded with edge-to-edge caravans and campervans and then decided that the Cape Le Grand site was the go – with a better beach, just 14 sites, hot showers and the princely cost of $9 pp/night we were delighted with our spot nestled in the dunes just off the beach. By noon all camping sites were full.
Guess what – it rained again. Celebrating PigPen’s first birthday, we considered changing his name to “Rain Maker” given our weather experiences over the past year. Leaving PigPen to enjoy the big drip, we drove 22kms down the beach then onto Esperance for the day, enjoying the scenery around there and getting fresh supplies.
Next day we climbed Frenchman Peak, a good 2 hour hard walk/climb to the top which was well worth it.
We explored the bays in the national park, with our favourite being Hellfire Bay, with waves just perfect for a bit of body surfing.
Forecast for Friday – rain! Enough! Heading home!
In summary, if one likes white beaches good for swimming and driving on, turquoise waters, spectacular scenery, hundreds of offshore islands and a little rain, visit this area – we experienced many of these. If you are put off by sharks, slippery rocks, sandbars and strong currents then you are being misled by the signs – we experienced none of these.
Score – one beach bogging, one lost rear-window protector and one late night visitation by a mouse – my theory, they like vegimite.