Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cape Le Grand

13 December 2012 till 5 Jan 2013

Cape Le Grand is a national park just 30km from Esperance and we’ve been describing it as Girraween meeting the Whitsundays. For those not from QLD this means there are enormous granite hills/mountains dipping into the sea that are surrounded by white, white sand and turquoise clear water. We’ve been here 3 weeks and it’s been a beautiful spot to stop. We still haven’t done everything there is to do here and could easily come back and stay another couple of weeks! 

We’ve been told by other travellers we’ve reached our peak in terms of amazing beaches.

We’ve celebrated Christmas and New Year’s here, met some lovely families also travelling around and had lots of new experiences.  Both Hugo and Isobel have caught a few waves on a surfboard, Hugo and Simon have gone out on a sea kayak, they’ve gone boogie boarding, dug enormous holes in the sand, built elaborate sand castles, made their own Christmas decorations, walked a granite peak, spotted lots of exquisite wildflowers, survived 45 degree heat on the beach and explored the nearby bays, coves and beaches.  There is one beautiful bay after another around here.  Cape Le Grand beach, where we’re camping, has a beautiful beach which has been perfect for the kids to snorkel, swim, and jump waves in; it’s really safe swimming here.

We’ve spent a day out at Cape Arid National Park which is 100km further east and had a fabulous day. Yokinup Bay is enormous and staggeringly beautiful then there is the tiny Dolphin Cove and Little Tagon Beach which are secluded and covered in white sand and more turquoise water (but really rough).  We took the 4WD track to Tagon Beach and crossed through banksia forests and sand dunes to have a little BBQ on the beach. We walked to the rocky headland and found debris from boats, rock pools, sea birds and lots of things that caught our interest.

We’ve spent far too many days in Esperance town itself doing shopping, washing, etc. Highlights have been seeing Sammy the Sealion and his family on the beach/water just a few metres walk along the long Tanker Jetty. It was a real treat.  The town beaches west of Esperance are staggeringly beautiful, just one beautiful beach after the other. They didn’t bother naming the fourth one from town, it’s just known as ‘Fourth Beach’. Twilight Beach has a surf life saving club, a beautiful protected beach and a granite rock just off shore. The day before New Year’s some people were caught on the rock as a 5 metre white pointer shark was touring around. They had to collect them with a boat. Much to Otto’s annoyance we haven’t yet been to the nudie beach which is a few km up the Twelve Mile Beach.  

Getting into town has been fun too – it’s quicker to go along the beach than to go via road.

Another day we’ve headed out to Stokes National Park which is about 80km west of Esperance. One of the rangers in town said this was heaps better than Fitzgerald River National Park so we thought we’d take a poke around. At first we were disappointed as it didn’t look that much different to the other places we’d been, banksia forests, a beautiful beach and cove but it had taken lots of time to reach it because of the rough 4WD track.  But then we took the track to Shoal Cape. Wow!

At one point we came out of the banksias and had an amazing view across a valley, to some towering sand dunes and a view of the ocean. We went down the steep descent and came up the other side to Cape Shoal. A few people were camping in the day use area and I can’t blame them – it was a beautiful spot. There are stairs all the way down to the beach and there’s an outer reef that stretches a few hundred metres either side, then an inner reef.

Simon is a champion and trudged back to the car to get all the snorkel gear and we found a quiet rock pool within the inner reef just off the beach that was perfect for the kids to try their hand at snorkelling and not just seeing sand!  It was an amazing world under the water with at least 7 different types of fish, with lots of stripes and fancy bits dancing in the water, fish hiding in the rocks, beautiful plants growing on the rocks and at one place I could look over a rocky ledge into a underwater wonderland filled with plants and fish and rocks. It was very special. And even more special to share it with the kids – even Otto wanted a go at snorkelling but we’d left his little set at home.

And now our time has come to an end. The canvas shop has made us a new stone chip guard and it’s ready to be collected today. It’s overcast and grey and the beach is rough so we won’t be going to Little Hellfire today. Disappointing that our last day here at Cape Le Grand is like this – we should’ve spent the day at the beach yesterday when it was gorgeous and sunny instead of going into town and tidying the tent. Oh well.

Our new plan is to go back to Stokes so we can have a few more days snorkelling in our little rock pool as the kids loved it so much. Then we’ll move onto Fitzgerald River National Park for a few nights, perhaps a few nights at Bremer Bay and then onto the Stirling Ranges and then Albany. 
We’ve got a great New Year ahead of us!

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