Kangaroos living on the beach, pirates, explorers, gold, and the biggest wave in Western Australia; ‘The Cyclops’. It seemed like my childhood story books were starting to come true.
I was on my way to Esperance, in a clapped out 80’s model BMW named Delilah, chasing a job, and a dream of living by the sea. I’d been used to long drives before but this one was really starting to make me ache, 7 long hours from Perth and another one on the way.
Eating Sour Peach Sweets to keep me awake and my eyes focused on the open road, I powered on. Strange street names passed me on the way; Christmas Well lane and Poison Pass. The landscape changing on leaving Perth, tyres tied around the bottoms of trees, dirty roads, open yellow fields, and flood warning signs in the dry landscape. It would be all worth it when I got there, I kept telling myself, I had heard that it Esperance was a coastal gem of a town and the best place to for backpacking jobs I had seen.
As I watched the golden outback meet the Southern Ocean and the landscape change to green I could see why people had said it was ‘the most beautiful part of Western Australia’. I found myself on Great Ocean Drive, following a string of beautiful white-sand beaches including Blue Haven, Twilight Cove, and Observatory Beach. It was in this area that the Cyclops Wave was reported to lurk; a near vertical wall of water before moving into shallow ramping reef. It was apparently so dangerous that the wave been named as one of the top 10 deadliest waves in 2009.
Further along the route I also found Pink Lake and Nine Mile wind farm decorating the horizon. The views are truly breathtaking. A place full of white sand beaches framed by rocky cliffs and a visible Archipelago in the distance. Altogether it is 38 kilometres in a circular loop drive, and super close to the cosy town centre where I had managed to get a job and a place to live.
Another half an hour away in the opposite direction I found Cape Le Grand National Park home to Lucky Bay, where a family of Kangaroos play on the beech. They seemed to enjoy the hot cross buns I had with me. It’s a perfect place for picnicking, beach strolls, watching people fishing in the ocean, and taking part in some bushwalking trails. I adventured to Frenchman’s Peak which was a 2 hour walk to the summit. The area had received it’s name after being discovered by French Explorers in 1792, and the peak because of its resemblance to the French military hats of the time. It is also an important part of Aboriginal mythology, and described in dreamtime as and eagle over looking the 2 rocky islands who represent children.
The whole area holds a fascinating history of the first European explorers to land here. Matthew Flinders was an English navigator and cartographer who anchored his ship ‘the investigator’ at lucky bay in 1802, giving name to it, Thistle Cove and several other landmarks in the area. It is said that Australia’s only known “pirate’ Black Jack Anderson also roamed around the Archipelago in the 1830s, and the remains of his huts are still evident on the island. Miners also flocked to the area in search of gold fields in the north.
I couldn’t have felt luckier to have stumbled across such a gorgeous place to stay. It’s laid-back lifestyle allows you to stay close to nature and have adventure right on your door-step. There was no doubt that the next three months were going to be working months well spent.
Written by: Joanne Olivia Fountain
Joanne Olivia Fountain is a Manchester-based writer and photographer whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. You can follow her at @SwamiFontanna. And check out her blog The Gypsy Tearoom, featuring lots of field notes from her adventures around the world.
Joanne Olivia Fountain