Day 154: 31 October – Spring arrives in the south of WA!

Author: Mr A

Location: Esperance & Gibson’s Soak

Stepping out of the Zone this morning it felt….warm….and spring perhaps has finally arrived in this rather cool end of WA. We had to drop the caravan off for a new ensuite door to be fitted…dé jà vu indeed. The last one had arrived in Perth damaged and so Zone RV had shipped one down to Esperance, no questions. They are good guys! 

First thing on the list was a trip to Bunnings to get another chair – they have a special on and we bought one yesterday as my chair seems to be occupied by a small cat more often than not. We were so pleased with it we thought we’d pick up another one, again for the princely sum of $5s. Bunnings is the best! 

Next I was sent into the local super IGA for some provisions, a dangerous move. I went in with the mandate to purchase two bottles of Diet Coke, and came out with four bags full! I just couldn’t resist their Cornish pasties, and the tequila and lime olives were just begging to be tested. The cheese counter had a wide selection of sheep cheese, so I thought it was rude not to stock up for Mrs A. Etc…etc…. I am approaching the Nullarbor crossing knowing there will be very little of anything but pies and the very ordinary Mrs Mac’s sausage rolls for sale along the 1800km of culinary desert that awaits us. 

We had planned to go back into town for a fish and chip lunch, something Esperance with its fleet of fishing boats was famous at doing well. However, it wasn’t to be. The number one rated restaurant had closed on Saturday and was opening again today, Tuesday at 4.30pm – way past lunch!  The four other options we looked at were all closed. It seems Esperance with a French name is looking to emulate their business hours, and double the price we paid last year for a plat de jour in a beautiful little Parisian cafe. I don’t profess to understand how everything has got so expensive here, but the European tourist is definitely noticing and not happy. 

It was time for plan B then and break out the supplies. A marvellous picnic lunch in the sun, a very relaxing afternoon before heading off to pick up the Zone. I wish we had a little more time here but time is marching on and the Nullabor beckons. 

Princess Tassie joined us for a picnic

We only had a short drive to our planned camp for the night, a field beside an old pub called The Gibson Soak Hotel. I wandered into the bar to check WikiCamps was up to date and it was still OK to pull up. It was, another very friendly bar man who was pleased with the extra custom from grey nomads I would think. Another caravan was there already and three more pulled up while we were setting up. 

Gibson Soak was named after Billy Gibson, who reportedly stumbled across the soak (spring) while searching for stock
I wonder what the story is with this stretch limo parked outside the motel!

Tassie was fascinated by the range of farm animals she had spotted out the window. Not entirely comfortable, she quickly retreated to her “safe space” behind the pillows!

We ambled over to the pub and a couple of locally brewed beers soon hit the spot (oops, forgot our dry pledge…oh well, we don’t start the Nullabor until tomorrow…). The locally caught Snapper and chips were brilliant. Finally…our fish and chip craving satisfied. 

Day 153: 30 October – Esperance finally shows us some warmth

Author: Mrs A

Location: Esperance & Cape Le Grand National Park

Distance driven: 120 km return

Distance hiked: 10 km

Finally the wind dropped this morning, with gusts around 30 km an hour instead of 70! So yes, still ‘breezy’ by usual standards, but not uncomfortably so. We had earmarked today to head to the nearby national park – Cape Le Grand – to do some hiking and so the upturn in the weather was a relief.

Cape Le Grand is named after one of the officers on the ship L’Espérance (after which Esperance is named – French for hope) which sailed here in 1792. There are rugged granite peaks and cliffs, the remains of a huge mountain range which once stretched along the coast here, originally higher than the Himalayas, but now smooth and eroded. The many turquoise bays are what it is mostly famous for, and the flora and fauna which exists here and nowhere else.

Long stretches of deserted beach

We commenced our section of the ‘Le Grand Coastal Track’ at Lucky Bay, following an extremely scenic route along the cliffs to the next bay, Thistle Cove. Lucky Bay has been voted the whitest beach in Australia, with sand so fine is literally squeaks as you walk on it. A beautiful bay which stretches round in a great arc, its coastline stretching out to the archipelago of islands off the coast.

Incredible colours
Soft sand and gentle waves – the water is very cold though!

Everywhere we looked was stunning, and barely anyone else about either, certainly not on our walking track. Birds, kangaroos, wildflowers and lizards often tried to block our view of the great blue, but we managed to dodge past them.

One very chilled out roo on the track
Nobody here but us!
An Ornate Dragon basks on the warm granite rocks

We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the white sand beach at Thistle Cove, before retracing our steps back to Lucky Bay. We called into the serenely named Hellfire Bay on our way back to Esperance…no hell or fire, just more turquoise water and glaringly white sand.

We are moving on from Esperance tomorrow, heading further east. We will be travelling across the Nullabor Desert, so this afternoon popped into the local supermarket to stock up on supplies, mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, as these will be few and far between on our 1,300 km (808 miles) journey.

This evening we treated ourselves to a meal at the local Chinese. Once again, our first and second choices of restaurant were both closed (!), but the Chinese was delicious. No more mention of wine for a while – we have been alcohol-free since dinner on Saturday. We have decided to abstain until we reach South Australia. A dry desert crossing if you like!

Day 152: 29 October  – Esperance: cold and closed but oh so beautiful!

Author: Mr A

Distance driven: about 55 km

We wandered along the coast road this morning into Esperance along Ocean Drive (how did they think of that name?) and were blown away  – literally and figuratevely. The wind has again gusted to just under 70km an hour (44 mph), trees were down and I was gripping the wheel of the rig like a mad thing – again. When we reached the ocean though the view was….I must use a word other than about stupendous!

Churning turmoil of ocean

The first thing we (i.e. my lovely artistic wife) noticed were the colours, every shade of blue (apparently – I thought blue was blue). The waves were huge and smashing against the rocks, it was all very dramatic.

Wind and long hair do not mix
Hold on tight!
Much warmer and less blowy behind glass

Although Tassie was quite unmoved by all the fuss. We arrived at the caravan park, called Bather’s Paradise. We looked at each other and shivered at the very thought of bathing. The temperature was supposedly 17 degrees (at midday) but that wind was bitingly cold. Anyway the park seemed nice, and we ploughed into a laundry mountain. Keeping the washing from leaving the line and not providing clothing for some deserving person in Darwin was our next challenge. 

It was a Sunday and we had read the market was on. But it was closed because of the wind. Bloody wind. We needed to do a food supermarket shop. But they were closed because it was a Sunday. We needed to buy some things at the pet store. It was closed. The chemist was closed. Target was closed. The restaurant we planned to go to was closed, the plan B for dinner was the chip shop that had been recommended…it was closed. The fresh fish shop at the harbour….you guessed it. Esperance is either deeply religious or stuck in a 90s time warp. I’m betting on the latter. 

So its a pre-cooked curry from the deep freeze and a (another) quiet night in. Good job I’m such remarkably exciting company. 

Day 151: 28 October – Snakes on the way to Paradise

Author: Mrs A

From: Munglingup Beach

To: Paradise Farmstay, Dalyup

We left early this morning, blue skies overhead but continuing strong winds. I had not had a good night’s sleep due to a pinched nerve or similar causing pain from my neck to my right arm – I’m hoping this is not going to be a regular thing – it seemed to get better during the day.

As we drove out from camp we spotted our first snake in a long while – a sunbathing diamond python along the roadside – this one is not venonmous. He posed for some photos. Not long after spotting this beauty, we crossed paths with an actual venomous black snake, which reared up at our rig and slithered quickly into the bush – no photo of that one!

Diamond Python

We continued our journey eastwards towards Esperance, stopping at Paradise Farmstay along the way. We had some difficulty finding the location due to the lack of signage, but once we had settled, found out from Tom the farmer/butcher that he wasn’t allowed to advertise due to the Esperance caravan parks. Thank goodness for the Wiki Camps App!

We settled in for the day – I had an hour’s catch up nap, then we purchased some organic sausages, fresh eggs and some diced steak from Tom. We cooked up three of the sausages for brunch – delicious! I swear there is a difference from the usual butcher or supermarket sausages. The strong wind continued so we mostly settled inside out of the breeze (strong breeze which prevented the awning from going out and blew over chairs and stools outside!). Tassie loves it here though – no dogs or anything threatening – she had a great day strolling around the paddock or dozing in the sunshine.

A fine campsite
One of us loses a chair again!
Dog free zone, hurahh!

At 4pm we congregated on Tom’s deck for happy hour with the other people camping here. We have a couple from the NSW Central Coast, a family from Southerlandshire, also in NSW, and a couple from Mackay in Queensland. We all shared drinks, nibbles and stories for a couple of hours, before retiring to the mobile apartments to cook dinner after enjoying a proper bush sunset.

Mr A and I have a beef rendang, cooked with our local organic beef (we are trying to disassociate dinner from the cattle strolling around in the next paddock), and the remainder of last night’s delicious Brash Vineyard Shiraz.

It’s hard to beat these WA sunsets

Day 150: 27 October  – A campsite and pristine beach all to our ourselves

Author: Mr A

From: Hopetoun

To: Munginlup Beach

Distance driven: 113 km

Distance walked: 7.5 km

All these little towns off the main tourist trail are just so friendly. We got a smile at the local IGA, and useful local information on road conditions from the bakery. We just had to buy a sausage roll to start the day. After talking to a a couple of friends yesterday who described themselves as ‘hitting the gym’ and ‘eating healthily’ we aren’t looking forward to Christmas around the pool together! 

After an hour’s drive we decided to head down to a little bay (Munginlup beach) on the coast for some lunch. Arriving, we saw a well laid out campsite, new toilets, and noone else. So…we thought let’s stay here the night. Tas was keen to explore so a walk to the ocean was in order. 

Rich dunes
The most colourful rock pools ever
Not even grey skies can stop this water looking incredible (sorry for the sloped horizon!)

After a spot of lunch and a read (John Le Carré’s new one for me, it’s a cracker) it was time to hit the beach minus Tassie. The wind was howling but it was a stunning vista that awaited us as we walked along. Not a single footstep was visible. We marched up the sand and came to a lagoon, again not a sign of anyone. 

Tas wasn’t too keen on the sight and sound of the ocean, but loved digging in these dunes

Heading back to the caravan we decided to use up some pancake batter and try making Yorkshire puds in our oven. Worked out very tasty – washed down with a Chardy from Mt Barker’s Plantagenet winery. Main is a chicken Pad Thai, absolutely yummy, so we decided it needed something special to show it off. I fished out the Brash Vineyard 2014 Shiraz. More medals than Usain Bolt’s mantelpiece. 


It’s so nice to have a place all to ourselves, with only the sounds and smells of the ocean keeping us company.  This is a great time of year to be travelling along this part of the coast. The weather may be not the most beachy, but hasn’t often stopped us from getting out and about. I would trade sunbaking and swimming for less crowds any day.