Esperance and Kalgoorlie

Esperance and Kalgoorlie

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.

Camel

Camel

Actually the schist is quite interesting so here is a photo of it.

Kyanite staurolite schist

Kyanite staurolite schist, near East Mount Barren

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.

West Beach, Esperance

West Beach, Esperance

There is a drive along the coast west of the town called the Great Ocean Drive which is well worth doing.

West Beach, Esperance

West Beach, Esperance. The pipe is storm water, not sewerage!

There is a sequence of beaches each as good as the previous and mostly empty.

The other end of West Beach, Esperance

The other end of West Beach, Esperance

If this was Europe it would be packed with hotels all along the road.

Twilight Beach, Esperance

Twilight Beach, Esperance

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.

Chris at Whistling Rock

Chris at Whistling Rock

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.

The way down to Thistle Cove

The way down to Thistle Cove

Chris on the beach at Thistle Cove

Chris on the beach at Thistle Cove

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.

Hellfire Cove, Cape Le Grand National Park

Hellfire Cove, Cape Le Grand National Park

Cape Le Grand National Park is not only magnificent beaches.  There are also some interesting hills such as Frenchman Peak.

Frenchman Peak, Cape Le Grand National  Park

Frenchman Peak, Cape Le Grand National Park

The whole area around Esperance is wonderful with lots of flowering trees.

Flowering trees

Flowering trees

Flowering eucalyptus

Flowering eucalyptus - close up

And there are relatives of mistletoe which are rather more spectacular than the British sort.

Nuytsia floribunda, the Australian mistletoe

Nuytsia floribunda, the Australian mistletoe

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.

Heritage building in Kalgoorlie

Heritage building in Kalgoorlie

For me the most interesting thing was the gold display in the museum. In the cellars was their gold vault.

Gold Specimens, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold Specimens, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold Specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold Specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold Specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

Gold Specimen, Kalgoorlie Museum

The outdoor highlight of our stay in Kalgoorlie was a visit to the Super Pit which is currently 520 metres deep.

The Super Pit

The Super Pit - note the drills at the bottom of the pit

Drills at the bottom of the pit

Drills at the bottom of the pit

The Super Pit

The Super Pit - it incorporates many small underground mines, some of whose workings are intersected by the pit walls

240 ton trucks in the Super Pit

240 ton trucks in the Super Pit

A rather large loader undergoes on site maintenance

A rather large loader undergoes on site maintenance

240 tons of ore comes out of the Super Pit

240 tons of ore comes out of the Super Pit

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.

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