We should be used to the distances in Australia by now but it still takes me by surprise. The direct route is 300 miles and the way we took, with a diversion to Hopetoun, was 385. The diversion to Hopetoun was to look at some kyanite staurolite schist which was interesting but not THAT interesting. It did give us the chance to see some (tame) camels, our first in Australia, other than in sausages.
Actually the schist is quite interesting so here is a photo of it.
Eventually we arrived at Esperance, which is rather a nice town despite being at the back of beyond. It describes itself as having the best beaches in the world and this may well be correct. If you like white sand beaches of squeaky clean quartz, surrounded by granite boulders and with clean blue sea, this is the place for you.
There is a drive along the coast west of the town called the Great Ocean Drive which is well worth doing.
There is a sequence of beaches each as good as the previous and mostly empty.
If this was Europe it would be packed with hotels all along the road.
And if you go east of town to Cape Le Grand National Park the beaches are even better. The best we found was at Whistling Rock and Thistle Cove.
Whistling rock acts as a sounding board. Stand in front of it and you can hear all the sounds of the sea focused on you and amplified. Quite magical.
Thistle Cove is named after John Thistle, one of the officers in Flinders mapping of Australia, who found fresh water in the cove.There are other beaches which are more populated such as Lucky Bay and Hellfire Cove.
Cape Le Grand National Park is not only magnificent beaches. There are also some interesting hills such as Frenchman Peak.
The whole area around Esperance is wonderful with lots of flowering trees.
And there are relatives of mistletoe which are rather more spectacular than the British sort.
But after three nights in Esperance we set off for Kalgoorlie which has been a mining town since the 1890’s. It has had its ups and downs but is currently, like the rest of Western Australia, booming. To British eyes its heritage buildings are rather recent but they are still interesting.
For me the most interesting thing was the gold display in the museum. In the cellars was their gold vault.
The outdoor highlight of our stay in Kalgoorlie was a visit to the Super Pit which is currently 520 metres deep.
After Kalgoorlie it was a 7 hour drive to Perth where we, once more, met our friends and prepared to do a proper geological excursion into the interior. This will be the next post but as we head for New Zealand and another overland trek, it may be a little while before it appears.