Three nights in Esperance is a good time to allow. Although the town itself is very small, there is plenty to do around here (as long as you have a vehicle).
Helms Arboretum – 15kms out of Esperance towards the airport has a number of rare orchids growing in the ground in the shade of the trees. Get a detailed map from the Tourist Office as you definitely need to know where you are going and where the orchids are to be found. It is hard enough to find them even when you know where to look they are so tiny. You can find spider, enamel, cowslip and donkey orchids here at the right time of year.
Wished I had seen:
White Bunny Orchid (late March to June and, King Spider Orchid (Sept/Oct – but I think they have just gone over. The Esperance Wildflower Festival is 24th – 28th September, which tells you what the best time of the year to visit Esperance is if you are interested in the flora.
In 1979, the Skylab Space Station fell out of the sky onto Esperance. The US was fined the princely sum of $400 for littering, which was eventually paid in full 30 years later not by NASA but by public donations as a result of a radio program in the US. You can see some of the debris at the Esperance Museum. This is a good place to find out all about Skylab and the original pioneers.. Interestingly, the museum has only a tiny section on the aboriginal heritage – just a few boomerangs and an aboriginal necklace. It strikes me that I haven’t even seen an aborigine yet – the closest I have got is the artwork in Esperance. Where ARE they and what is their history all about?
Glad I didn’t see:
Black spear grass. “An innocent looking plant with a seed that catches on one’s socks and then slowly corkscrews its way into one’s ankles where the body’s natural humidity causes it to germinate … occasionally, very nasty infections result, with a plant eventually erupting on the other side of one’s leg.” Robert L.Strauss – Cutting Teeth in Queensland
I thought I might have found it when I strayed off the path a bit on the way to Luck Baby, but it was something else that scratched my leg (I think …?!)
Give it a miss:
Pink Lake – it hasn’t been pink for 13 years. Increased salt concentrations combined with decreasing water levels from evaporation in the Summer months trigger the appearance of the pink hue helped by the algae Dunaliella salina. Commercial salt mining and increased groundwater inflow due to clearing in the catchment area turned it back to boring old blue. The pink lake that is close to Esperance is at Middle Island – only reachable by plane or boat. A flight will set you back $385 AUD each – we decided it wasn’t worth anything like that much – there is just so much else to explore in this part of the world.
Stonehenge Yes – someone has actually built a replica of it on the road from Esperance to the Cape le Grand National Park. It could never compare to the real thing, so we gave that a miss too.