A trip to Esperance is not complete without visiting Cape Le Grand National Park. All the tourist photos you see of kangaroos on the beach? That’s Cape Le Grand. Pristine beaches, untamed coastline with dramatic rock faces and flat beaches perfect for driving. All Cape Le Grand.
Like Cape Arid National Park, entry is $12 (more if you are camping) and the road in was lined with beautiful native Christmas trees in bloom. There is a range of activities and sights to see in the park and we chose to visit the four main beaches on our day there.
Of the beaches we visited, Thistle Cove was truly impressive and our definite favourite. We started by exploring the stunning rocky coastline and the intriguing ‘whistling rock’ before walking down to the beach. Access is down a steep slope of rock but you can still get great views of the cove from above.
The path down to the top of the beach is surrounded by native plants, some in flower depending on the time of year. They are so perfectly arranged, with a great variety of species, it almost looks deliberately landscaped. It’s worth taking the time to admire the scenery of green before taking in the blues and whites of the beach.
Once on the beach, hubby went in for a dip and the review was ‘refreshing’, which generally means really cold. I got my feet wet taking photos and that was enough. It was enjoyable to simply be in such a stunning place.
After all the hype, we were expecting something special. But, to be honest, Lucky Bay didn’t do it for us. Granted, we were there for an hour on a single day, which isn’t enough time to come to a firm opinion so a longer term stay might change our view. It was quite a windy day and a lot of seaweed had piled into the sheltered area of the bay. Coming from sheltered, pristine Thistle Cove, we felt Lucky Bay had let us down a little
It was still a stunning location, with the same beautiful blue waters, white sands and it was great for driving along the beach. The coffee van set up on the beach looked like they had the best view for any cafe in the state. The sand is hard enough that you can sit and enjoy your coffee at tables chairs right on the beach.
The camp grounds are quite new so some sites have little shade. Apparently more are due to be built in the future. It’s an option we might consider for camping in the future.
Another stunning spread of white sand and turquoise waters. Hellfire Bay was similar in layout to Thistle Cove, with great expanse of sheltered bay and alluring waters. There are picnic facilities and toilets available and it seemed to be a popular spot for families and people having lunchtime Christmas parties. We didn’t swim but that didn’t stop others and it was another location to simply enjoy the scenery.
Cape Le Grand Beach
Cape Le Grand Beach was not as dramatically beautiful as the three previous sites we visited but featured the same crystal waters in a protected location. Camping is also available here but we did not stay long enough to have a look. We were onto the beach and drove all the way back to Wylie Bay, traveling across hard sand, softer sand and piles of seaweed overtaken by nesting terns.
Cape Le Grand can’t – and probably shouldn’t – be done all in one day. Staying at the campgrounds would be a great way to take in more of the vast and beautiful park. We only caught glimpses of Frenchman Peak and missed the chance to enjoy any of the walk trails around the park. We will definitely be staying longer next time.