in the Bay of Isles
Esperance, known as the Bay of Isles, has some of the most spectacularly beautiful scenery in Australia. Around 100 islands of the Archipelago of the Recherche dot the ocean. Dramatic rock formations, white sands and bright turquoise blue water, complete the picture.
The town is the major commerce centre of the region and an idyllic holiday destination. There are numerous attractions and a variety of eateries and accommodation.
In 1792 two French ships Esperance and Recherche took shelter in the Bay from a fierce storm. Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802 named Lucky Bay after also having a lucky escape from a savage storm. Forty years later Eyre was delighted to find a French whaling ship there in 1841. Esperance has also had a colourful past with whalers, sealers and pirates. The Esperance Museum has wonderful displays of early days.
The Great Ocean Drive, a 38 kilometre ring road, takes in stunning coastal scenery via Rotary Lookout, the wind farms, Observatory Point Lookout and Pink Lake. A plaque commemorates French frigates L'Esperance and Recherche at Observatory Point -views of the bay and islands is superb. The wind farm is impressive with the state of the art windmills driven by huge 16-metre blades.
The islands in the Bay are home to Australian Sea Lions, Cape Barren geese, dolphins, seals, sea eagles and other wildlife. Diving around the islands in the crystal clear water is popular. There are various shipwrecks including the Lapwing and the Sanko Harvest. Whales visit from May to October. Visitors can stay overnight on Woody Island.
There are four national parks - Cape Le Grand, Cape Arid, Stokes Inlet and Peak Charles. All different with magnificent scenery and wildlife delight visitors.
The Dempster family were the first settlers in the area, taking up a large pastoral lease in 1863. Others followed. Gold discoveries in Western Australia in the 1890s, saw hundreds of fortune seekers flood the sleepy port. The town boomed until the Perth to Kalgoorlie railway opened a few years later. In 1912 Land was opened up for farming by the Government, however a severe drought in 1914/15 saw many settlers walk off their properties.
The new rail link to Norseman aided prosperity, but the Great Depression of the 1930s wiped out 75% of the farmers working poor soils. It would seem that the wheatbelt was not to be, but a few determined pioneers led to the Gibson Research Station being established in 1949. With trace elements and phosphates the light soils blossomed.
Today the fishing industry, agriculture and tourism are the focus. A welcome awaits visitors.
For further information, call into the
Esperance Visitor Centre