Day 129 – Cape Le Grand and Esperance

It was a perfectly clear morning, and I had this crazy idea in my head that maybe, just maybe, it was going to stay exactly like this (weather wise) until we get back to Brisbane. I thought that maybe it could nearly make up for the bad luck (not that I believe in luck) we’d had recently.

It was still before 7AM, but I was already rushing Risa to wake up, have breakfast and get started with the day. As beautiful as the day was now, I knew that it could all change within an hour. I went for a quick walk down to the beach that we’d camped by (Cape Le Grand), but the strong winds (which were testing my patience) had brought in a phenomenal amount of sea grass, making the possibly beautiful beach look positively dirty.

I really wanted to climb a small rocky peak that afforded 360˚ views of the national park, but Risa wanted to see the beaches first. In the end, she won and we went to visit some of the other beaches in the national park.

20130919_RCH_2440 20130919_RCH_2445 20130919_RCH_2448First stop was Hellfire Bay, about 10km from our campsite. This beach was phenomenal, seriously stunning. The sand was abnormally white and fine, and the water was an ethereal shade of blue. But, due to the temperature (and ridiculous winds) we only experienced with our eyes. I could only imagine being here on a calm sunny day… though, I doubt you’d be lucky enough to have it to yourself on a day like that.

20130919_RCH_2450The national park seems to be filled with these ancient granite hills, most of them had amazing caves that would be fantastic to explore.

20130919_RCH_2453 20130919_RCH_2458 20130919_RCH_2456

Lucky Bay was more white sand beaches, with clear water, but it wasn’t as pretty as Hellfire Bay. There were also lots of oddly shaped rocks (and a strange Russian man providing an interesting narrative for his home movie, at least it was interesting to my non-Russian understanding ears)

20130919_RCH_2459 20130919_RCH_2471Next stop was Thistle Cove, another 5km down the road. There was a campsite here, too. It was a long and brilliantly white beach, with the same azure waters. You could drive on the beach, so chasing the nicer (it’s all relative, as everywhere is beautiful) sand and outlook, we made our way down the beach. I was a bit lazy, and didn’t bother letting the pressure down in our tyres, but the sand was quite firm, so I thought we’d be OK. The sand did start getting quite a bit softer, and wetter, and panic alarms started going off in my head. We were never in any danger, but the car was certainly working harder than it needed to. We made it to an open section of the beach, pulled over and took some wedding photos. I wasn’t sure if the tide was coming in, or going out, but the water got rather close to the car, so as soon as we’d taken the photos that we were after, we rushed into the car and made our way for the security of bitumen. Again, no dramas, but driving on sand is a bit foreign to me, so I don’t know how close I am to trouble…

There is a fourth beach that is accessible via an unsealed track. I thought that it’d have to be the best, since it was the hardest to get to, which is completely illogical and once again, incorrect. The water here was nice and calm, but the beach was buried underneath 30cm of dried sea grass. The dried grass had lost all of its colour and was now a white/grey shade, and due to the straight shape, it looked like a beach full of shredded paper.

The clouds were well and truly starting to cover the sky, so Risa was probably correct to see the beaches before hiking the mountain. Still, I wanted to climb it, so wind and clouds be damned. It’s only a 3km return walk from the car park, but they recommend 2 hours! But, I was convinced we could do it in less than 90 minutes.

20130919_RCH_2491 20130919_RCH_2494Frenchmans Peak is like many of the other giant granite hills in the park, complete with a giant cave at the summit. However, this one was more like an archway than a cave. Amazingly, these caves were created by the ocean 250,000,000 years ago, back when the sea levels were much higher. The path meandered along the base for a while, and then finally went straight up the side of the rock. It wasn’t that hard, but we were certainly huffing and puffing long before we’d reached the top. At least the winds were doing a good job of keeping me nice and cool…

20130919_RCH_2503 20130919_RCH_2507The archway that we could see from the ground was much, much bigger up close. You could imagine an entire clan of people living up here in comfort, but now it’s just home to dozens of hyperactive swallows.

20130919_RCH_2514 20130919_RCH_2515 20130919_RCH_2520The view from the top wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but that was due to all the salt mist in the air, as well as the grey cloudy skies ruining everything. It was a true 360˚ view from the top, and the beaches/coastline was beautiful. Just not photogenic. If we thought that the wind at the base was strong, it was something completely different on the top! I was scared to jump for a photo, not sure if I’d be blown to a different landing spot. The climb back down took a little under 15 minutes, and including the time we spent exploring the caves and summit, it only took a little over an hour.

As we were leaving, it finally started raining. I realised how lucky we were to have had such a beautiful morning. I had been told about another beautiful beach closer to town that featured a large rock that can be driven up. Even though I am a 4×4 novice, at the time I was keen to give it a go. With the rain, and the panic I was feeling driving on the beach earlier, I gave it a miss. I wish that we’d been there with someone else, then I wouldn’t have been so worried if anything went wrong…

By the time we got back in to town, the skies were clearing and the sun was really shining (I actually think I got sunburnt today, though it could be wind burn…). Last time we were in Esperance, we were confined to places that we could visit on foot from our caravan park, which sadly wasn’t a great deal… This time though, we had wheels! So, we did a loop along the beaches to the west, then inland past Pink Lake back in to town.

20130919_RCH_2525 20130919_RCH_2526It was hard to believe that a beach this beautiful could be in a town, not in some far and remote location. We parked at West Beach, ate lunch, and just sucked in the amazing views.

20130919_RCH_2529 20130919_RCH_2531 20130919_RCH_2532Next beach was Twilight Beach (I’ll always think of lame vampires when I hear twilight now). There was what looked like a group of high school students out there learning to surf, and at that moment, I was incredibly jealous. I still haven’t learnt to surf… I’d made myself a resolution last spring that I was going to learn last summer… Twilight Beach was just as beautiful as West Beach, though the surf was a little gentler. This was the end of the beautiful beaches though, after Twilight the surf became increasingly aggressive, and the beautiful sand was replaced by rocks.

20130919_RCH_2547I was happy with the quick stop in Esperance (you could easily spend much more time here relaxing), so we continued with the journey, this time into uncharted (for us) territory. We made it a little past Norseman before it was dark enough for us to give up. I feel much more awake driving in the evenings, but the risk of hitting an animal is too high. The moon was fantastic, but it was teasing us for the longest time, only partially visible through the trees. Finally crested a hill and got the vantage that I wanted, though by then the moon was well above the horizon, and the light had changed from the beautiful sunset hues.

129日目  9月19日(木) エスペランス、リベンジ!

わーい! 風はかなり強いけど、ご希望通りのお天気♫

まずは、Hellfire Bay この辺りは、溶岩が海に注ぎ固まった場所なので、Hellfire(溶岩)の湾なわけです。

真っ白な砂に空の青が透き通り、息をのむ程とてもきれいなパステルブルーの海の色。  まさに写真で見た通りのとってもキレイな海。

風が強いので波がかなり荒く、白波が多く立っているのが残念ですが、そのおかげで、波しぶきが太陽に反射し、虹色のたてがみのように見えたのがとっても幻想的でした!!
海のパステルブルーと白浜とのコントラストで、一瞬でとても弱いので写真には撮れないけど、一生印象に残るとってもすてきな瞬間でした☆☆

次のThistle Coveは、奇妙な岩がゴロゴロ転がったビーチではなく岩場。 風が服と口笛のように音が聞こえる岩というのがあったけど、風が強すぎるのか聞こえなかったなぁ〜(何語かで大きな独り言いってる龍って書いた帽子をかぶってるへんなおじさんはいたけど笑)

お次ぎは、Lucky Bay ここは、今までに見たビーチの中で1、2を争う素晴しく美しいビーチでした!  車で少し砂の上をドライブして、2kmほど進むと全く足跡もなにもない、手つかずの美しい白浜が。 そしてパステルブルーというかグリーンの海。 お急ぎの為ルートを変更したので、ここエスペランスに戻ってくるかどうするか迷ったけど、やっぱり戻ってきてよかった!!  オーストラリアで1番美しいビーチと呼ばれるだけ、本当に1日中ずーっと眺めていられる程キレイです。  風が強くて寒くてとっても泳げる気温じゃないけど、いつか夏にこのビーチで泳いでみたいなぁ。。。

その後は、Frenchman’s Peakという岩山登山をしてきました!

なんかスマーフっていうキャラクターの帽子みたいな、ソフトクリームの先っぽのような変な形をした頂上の溶岩山です。

風も強いし、天気も曇ってきたしであんまり乗り気じゃなかったけど、往復3kmの登山だし頂上からの景色が良さそうなので挑戦してきました。

前にファミリーホリデーで登ったNSW州にあるハゲ岩と名前のついた岩山のように、表面がとてもざらざらとしているので、斜面45°の岩だけど、不思議と滑らず登れます。  ひたすらハゲた岩山の斜面を登るので、階段をひたすら登る様な私の嫌いな登山とは違ってさっさと歩けるので登りやすかった!

頂上は大きな目のような窓のような、洞窟状になっていて、たくさんのツバメが、ちょうどよい感じに空いた小さな穴に住みついていました。

頂上からの景色は、360°エスペランスを見渡せる絶景でした。

海の青と、白い浜のコントラスト、牧場の若い緑、森の濃い緑。とてもカラフルです。

下りは、ひたすらブレーキなので膝がちょっといたくなったけど、久々に運動をしたので、気持ちがよかったし、なんともいい景色でした♫

国立公園を後にして街に戻り、エスペランスの街の周囲のGreat OceanDriveというループのドライブコースを回ってきました。

こちら側は、波がかなり高く、(高いのは3、4m位あったかな) サーフィンをしている人々をちらちら見かけました。

有名なTwilight Beachという場所には、ジンベイザメが大きく口を開けている様な形をした岩がありロスくんかなり気に入っていました。

この辺りの10マイルラグーン、11マイルビーチなどなども、風が強かったので、車窓から見ただけですが、とってもキレイで再度エスペランスに戻ってきて良かったねと2人で納得。

その後は、Pink Lake(これは、前にみたPinkLakeと違ってピンク色はしていなかったので残念) を通り過ぎ、街へ戻り給油を済ませ先へ急ぎました。

この先は、オーストラリアで最長の超ストレートな何も無い道路が待ち受けています。

今日はそこまでは行きませんでしたが、エスペランスからひたすら300kmほどドライブ。

今日は、そういえばお月見の日らしいですね。 今晩はとっても大きくてキレイなお月様がみえました!

明日、あさっては、見所なしのひたすらドライブ移動日の1日になりそうです。

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