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Explore Town


Visitor Centre:
Esperance Vistor Centre
Museum Village,Dempster Street
Phone: (08) 9083 1555
Fax: (08) 9071 4543
Visitor website:
Today Esperance is romantically dubbed the ‘Bay of Isles’ and has had its beaches declared Australia’s whitest. Visitors will find that both these descriptions fit and a short drive out to the stunning Cape Le Grand National park is a must, it will leave you spellbound as you soak up the brilliant clear blue waters and the whitest sand. From May to October visitors will see Southern Right and Humpback whales,many different type of bird species on an international wetland system and an array of abundant wildlife in their natural habitat. From September to November see wild flowers at their majestic best as the region’s flowers come alive.
It is the only port in the
south-east of Western Australia and is serviced by a standard
gauge rail system from Kalgoorlie. The port of Esperance handled over 10.5 million tonnes of product involving 230 ships last year, including wheat, barley, oats, lupins, peas and minerals. Agriculture is by far the leading industry with tourism and fishing also playing important roles.
The region has been dramatically transformed in the past few years. The once struggling farms have been replaced by rich, fertile crops and pastures. In 1954 there were only 36 farmers in the area, utilising about 8,093ha. Today there are about 600 on more than 404,686ha. This transformation came about through a combination of Australian agronomists’ know-how and American investors’ money. This American inspired land development revitalised the area. Potentially, the Esperance region could be one of Australia’s greatest producers of beef, fat lambs, wool, wheat, oats, barley and other crops such as linseed, safflower and grain sorghum.
Aboriginal people have been in the Esperance area for over 20,000 years and their descendants still live here today. The local Aboriginal people are the most eastern of the Noongar Nation whose country extends out to Israelite Bay, 200kms east of Esperance. The Aboriginal name for this area is “Kepa Kurl”, ‘the place where the waters lay down like a boomerang’.
The 1st European contact was Captain Pieter Nyuts in the ship the Gulden Zeepaard in 1627, he did not land in the Esperance area but noticed a plant species that was flowering quite abundantly, which is named after him, the Nuytsia Floribunda, or commonly known as the Christmas Tree. Captain Nyuts mapped 1500km of the south coast and named it Nuytsland.
During a gale in 1792, two French frigates on a mapping voyage of the Australian coast under the command of Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux took shelter off Observatory Point. The first ship to enter the bay was L’Esperance (meaning, “Christian Hope”), the Archipelago which comprises of 110 islands and approx 1500 islets, was named after the second ship, L’Recherche (meaning “research”).
Another early visitor to the area was Matthew Flinders in “The Investigator” who anchored at Lucky Bay in 1802 during his voyage to chart the southern coast. Flinders named several landmarks including Thistle Cove. Middle Island was also visited by Flinders and was later established as a base for sealers operating in the area, including Australia’s only known “pirate”, Black Jack Anderson who roamed around the Archipeligo in the 1830’s. The remains of his huts are still evident on the island.
In 1841, Edward John Eyre with his Aboriginal guide, Wylie, met Captain Rossiter on their epic journey from Adelaide, aboard the French Whaler ‘Mississippi’ in a bay which later became known as Rossiter Bay.
1863 saw the arrival of the first settlers, the Dempster brothers who walked overland from Northam with their families, Aboriginal guides and over 3,000 head of stock. Visit the old Dempster Homstead on Dempster Street in Esperance.
Many other settlers followed as huge tracks of land were taken up. When gold was discovered in Coolgardie (400kms north of Esperance) in 1892, Esperance became a hub of activity as miners came from far and wide to try and find their fortune. Esperance then became the principal port of the goldfields.
1908 Esperance suffered a severe setback with the opening of the Perth to Coolgardie railway and was reduced to a holiday resort and fishing town.
However, the town attracted enormous publicity in the early 1950s when American investors established large landholdings east of Esperance. The success of their farming methods caused an influx of new farmers from all parts of Australia. This helped make Esperance the prosperous town it is today.
Helms Aboretum

The Helms Arboretum is located approximately 17kms north of Esperance on the main highway to Norseman/ Kalgoorlie.

A large area displays flowering native shrubs and trees with a collection of pines from various countries. In spring, there are guided wildflower walks and the orchids are spectacular. Picnic facilities are in a superbly serene setting.

Bandy Creek Fishing Boat Harbour

This harbour is located a couple of kilometres east of town, near the racecourse and on the way to Cape Le Grand National Park. A very scenic spot and well worth a visit.

Great Ocean Drive

One of Australia’s most spectacular scenic drives.

The circular loop drive is 38kms long and includes some of the region’s best known attractions, including spectacular beach and coastal scenery, Rotary Lookout on Wireless Hill, Twilight Cove, Observatory Point, Wind Farms and the unique Pink Lake.

See the Great ocean Map, under the Maps link

Pink Lake

Follow Pink Lake Road to this unique lake. One of the attractions of the Great Ocean Drive. The colour is attributed to high concentrations of salt tolerant algae, dunalella salina.

Table salt is harvested from solar ponds on the eastern end of Pink Lake. Huge stockpiles can be seen from Pink Lake lookout.

Cape Le Grande National Park

56kms east of Esperance. Outstanding scenery and some of the most beautiful beaches on earth - Lucky Bay, Hellfire Bay and Thistle Cove. There are several granite peaks with outstanding views, including Frenchman’s Peak for an island panorama.

Other features of this magnificent park include excellent coastal and bush walking trails, wildflowers and friendly kangaroos.

Two camp sites with all facilities (caravans welcome).

Cape Arid National Park

One of a number of national parks in the region. All have superb views, seasonal wildflowers, camping, picnicking facilities and walking trails. Contact the Visitor Centre for more details.

Observatory Point and Lookout

Located on Twilight Beach Road, this is where, in 1792, the two French Frigates, the L’Esperance and the Recherche, sheltered from a storm, before going on to explore the region. The Esperance Bay Historical Society has placed a memorial plaque at the top of the point.

Woody Island and Recherche Archipelago

The Recherche Archipelago is a large collection of 110 offshore islands spread along the coast to the west (and mostly) to the east of Esperance. They feature a vast variety of wildlife and offer cruising, diving, sailing and snorkelling opportunities. Local cruise operators offer treks around this Bay of Isles, involving sightseeing of dolphins, seals and sea lions. See 'Things to Do' section for more information.

Such services include a stopoff at Woody Island, which is the only island of the archipelago open to visitors. Woody Island is a very relaxing ecostay camping resort, situated 15km off Esperance in the Recherche Archipelago.

Choose from Safari Huts on raised platforms with queensized bed and double bunks, plus private deck with table and chairs or fully erected tents with mattresses supplied. A camper’s kitchen with gas BBQs, stove and sink is available exclusively for campers’ use, while two modern ablution blocks are a hot water source for showering. Other facilities include the new Woody Island Visitor Centre which houses a kiosk, deck areas, information and souvenir displays.

Masks and snorkels can be hired for a fantastic underwater view of fish, coral and wrecks. A glass bottom boat operates and two jetties provide the best access for keen fisher folk.

Access to the Island is via the daily cruise aboard MV ‘SeabreezeII’. Woody Island Ecostays is open from September through to April.

Tanker Jetty

The jetty is located on the town foreshore.

New Zealand fur seals and Australian sea lions often visit the jetty in the hope of finding fish scraps thrown into the water by the many anglers who use the jetty.

Rotary Lookout

Located on Wireless Hill.
Spectacular views of the ‘Bay of Isles’, Pink Lake, the Esperance township and rolling farmland. This structure provides a magnificent 360° view.

Don’t forget to take your camera.

Stokes Inlet National Park

80 kms west of Esperance. Three camp sites with some facilities. Stokes Inlet, in the 10,667 hectare Stokes National Park, is one of the most picturesque and interesting estuaries along Western Australia’s southern coast. It is the largest estuary in the Shire of Esperance and one of the deepest in the South Coast Region.

Wind Farms

Western Power’s Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm at Esperance was the first commercial wind farm in Australia. It was established in October 1993, following five years of successful operation of a much smaller experimental wind farm at Salmon Beach, Esperance.

Being an isolated town, Esperance is not connected to the South West Interconnected Grid which distributes electricity from large gas, coal and oil fired power stations. Before the installation of wind turbines, the electrical needs of Esperance town and surrounding districts were solely supplied from a diesel power station.

The Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm works in conjunction with the power station and reduces the amount of electricity generated by diesel power.

Esperance, being on the south coast of Western Australia, lies in the northern extremities of the Roaring Forties winds. Thus they experience reliable winds with a mean annual average of more than 7.5 metres per second, an excellent wind resource forthe generation of electricity.

Situated on a coastal ridge 16kms west of the town, the Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm, installed in 1993, has nine 225kW turbines. A new wind farm at Nine Mile Beach, installed in 2003, has six 600kW turbines. Together both farms provide approximately 22% of the power needs in Esperance and surrounding districts. Great care has been taken in the design and construction of both wind farms to ensure the least possible disturbance to the natural environment. Wind turbines, in producing no greenhouse gases, do not contribute to global warming and provide a clean, renewable form of energy.

Duke of Orleans Bay

Magnificent coastal scenery, superb beaches and lush farmland. 88kms east of Esperance.

Wildflower festival

200 varieties of wildflowers have been recorded around Esperance and the National Parks. Best shows of wildflowers to be found from September to November.

The Wildflower festival is held between 14th - 17th September at the Anglican Parish Centre, Andrew Street, the Wildflower Festival celebrates Spring and the spectacular wildflowers of the region, displaying over 250 local species. The festival includes a range of attractions which vary from year to year.

Esperance Historical Village and Municipal Museum

Home of the Esperance Visitor Centre and located right in the centre of town, just off Dempster Street.

The historical village contains the Museum Park Art Gallery, various historical buildings which house craft shops and cafes, etc. The museum is recognised as one of the best in regional Western Australia. There are a huge range of exhibits including a special focus on the ‘Skylab’ space station, which plunged to earth in the area in 1979.


There are many popular walking trails. Locations include Cape Le Grand National Park, Monjinup Lake Reserve, Helms Arboretum, Stokes Inlet and Cape Arid National Park.

Whale Watching

From July through to October is the time of year that the huge Southern Right Whales and to a lesser extent the Humpback Whales can be seen in the many bays surrounding Esperance.


The waters around the coastline of Esperance are a diver’s dream with beautiful clear waters and endless diving locations. The wreck of the 33,000 tonne Sanko Harvest that sank in 1991, is easily accessible and provides a unique experience.

The Sanko Harvest wreck, which split in two, can be dived from 13m to 28m, and is believed to be one of the most exciting wreck dives to be experienced anywhere in the world. Professional dive charters operate.


Esperance has two golf courses each boasting 18 holes and superb grass greens. Visitors are made most welcome and green fees are extremely modest.


Welcome to fisherman’s paradise! Catch herring off the Tanker Jetty or try some beach fishing anywhere along the coast. The waters are teeming with salmon, skippy, herring, mulloway, tailor, groper and others. Charter fishing boats operate in these waters.


Esperance has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and when the wind blows it can provide excellent conditions for windsurfing. The water is so clear that you can see your shadow on the bottom while you are powering along.


An overnight stay at Woody Island in the right season could have Flesh-footed Shearwater land at your feet as they come in to roost. Also on the island are Peregrine Falcon, Brown Quail, Brush Bronzewing, Golden Whistler, New Holland Honeyeater, Red-eared Firetail and the Little Penguin.

Please exercise restraint when walking near seabird areas, especially in spring and summer. When birds become agitated, nests could be abandoned or left open to predators.

The Artisans of Esperance

The location of Esperance is often the cause for the unusually high number of talented and diverse artists making their home here. The small town feeling and relaxed atmosphere is conducive to the inspiration of art in its many forms. Artists revel in the unique landscape, flora and fauna that the region offers making their artwork one of a kind in its colours, texture and content.