Esperance, Western Australia
One of the “Top Things to Do in Esperance” mentioned over and over again in brochures and guides was the Great Ocean Drive. Our new friends, Del and Mark, loaned us their car for the afternoon and suggested we take the 40km (25 mi) loop drive. How could we refuse such an offer? We downloaded a map with key stops noted and off we headed.
There are at least nine pristine, white-sand beaches on the route that are all easily accessible and picture-perfect gorgeous. We stopped at each one in turn and despite overcast skies and intermittent rain sprinkles, it would have been impossible not to enjoy the natural and unique beauty of each place.
Despite the stunning beaches, this is still the unpredictable Southern Ocean. All sorts of signs warned of rip currents and large, freak waves among other dangers to keep swimmers alert.
The waves at Fourth Beach were good sized. We watched surfers and boogie boarders held out for the right wave.
Somewhere out there is the Cyclops, known among surfers worldwide as one of the world's most deadly waves. We did not surf it. We did not even see it. But I did nick a pic off the net for you.
Probably the most picturesque beach of all was Twilight Beach, a sweeping shoreline and aquamarine water.
Looking at the waves crashing off the chain of tiny, off-lying islands and reefs was beautiful from our vantage point high atop of the lookout at Observatory Point. When we're sailing through them with Nine of Cups, however, we have a totally different view. Markers at the top of the observatory platform commemorate the arrival of the French explorer, Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, who anchored in this bay with his two ships, Recherche and Esperance in 1792.
Ten Mile Lagoon was really interesting. We didn't see anyone taking advantage of the nude bathing offer, but several 4-wheel drive vehicles certainly churned up the sand.
Esperance had the first electrical wind farm in Australia, built as a research facility in 1987. We could see the wind turbines of Western Power now situated strategically on the hill above the Ten Mile Lagoon churning out kilowatts.
Eleven Mile Beach concluded the necklace of beaches along this route, but it was absolutely stunning.
From here, we traveled north, then west, back to Esperance. The northern loop of the route passes by Pink Lake. According to the lady at Visitor Info, the Pink Lake has not been very pink since a massive flood several years ago, however we thought with a little imagination we could pick up a rosy tinge. The color is attributed to high concentrations of salt tolerant algae, dunalella salina. It's still a pretty view with banksia lining its shores.
It may have been a short trip, but touring along the Great Ocean Drive was a fantastic way to sample the essence of the Esperance coastline from the land for a change, instead of our usual view from the sea.