Excursion to Esperance

JohnM

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Red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia) is endemic to SW Australia (the genus Corymbia was erected some years ago for a group of species once lumped in Eucalyptus).

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Christmas trees prolific – and large - in farm paddocks and along road verges.

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Heading to Cape Arid NP (Cape Arid National Park - Wikipedia, https://www.westernaustralia.com/en/Attraction/Cape_Arid_National_Park/56b266a67b935fbe730e5b46), a larger and less developed park than Cape Le Grande, about 100 clicks E of Esperance the next day, which came over cloudy. Via Wharton Beach, of which half lies at the E end of Cape Le Grande NP.

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jastel

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I am aware of that. They show up when I've zoomed in. It's my Sony DSC-HX90V pocket camera that's given me a lot of grief in humid environments. It's a PITA, but I doubt that I can clean such a dinky thing. The only reason I like it is that it has a viewfinder, so I can see what I'm photographing, unlike just using the screen. All I want is a point and shoot that I can put in my pocket. It supplements my iPhone, especially for zooming.
Yeah too much hassle for a point and shoot.
I now store my DSLR in my brothers humidty cupboard with his camera gear.
 

JohnM

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Wharton Beach, in greater Duke of Orleans Bay.

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We drove all the way along the beach, on the way encountering a pod of dolphins actively feeding close to shore.

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Then negotiating some patches of soft sand at Cheyne Point to get through to Victoria Harbour. Not enough to deflate the tyres; just a bit cut up by the traffic.

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The sand seemed to be the most fine of all the beaches – like icing sugar.

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JohnM

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Moving on to Cape Arid NP. Its boundary is the easternmost extent of agriculture in WA. There is a road that runs NE to Balladonia on the W edge of the Nullarbor Plain.

We didn’t venture into the park or onto the beach; just mooched around the W end near the campground and ranger station before heading back to Esperance.

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JohnM

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Next morning it was out of Esperance and heading back W to our next destination of two nights in the Porongorup NP, deviating to the E side of Fitzgerald River NP on the way. We avoided retracing some of our outbound journey along S Coast Highway by going via Springdale Rd, a good dirt road that parallels it to the S, followed by a morning tea stop at little Hopetoun.

Typical S coast cloud and a little patchy light drizzle.

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Hopetoun founded in 1901; pub built in 1907.

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Then into the park. The E side is hillier and rockier than the W side and stops are more focussed on flora lookouts and hiking trails to the Barren Range (East, West and Mid-Mt Barren, all named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 (West Mount Barren - Wikipedia, East Mount Barren - Wikipedia).

Interesting geology as well as spectacular biology. This interpretive area was a bit of a puzzle until we worked out that the concrete area where PJM is walking represents the ocean and the semi-artform objects represent the land features.

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Plenty of Hakea victoria and the Barrens were obscured.

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JohnM

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Once at the high point of the park, the vegetation became more heath-like and less spectacular. And the road (Hamersley Drive) became dirt and was quite corrugated for about 40 clicks. It’s tolerable but doesn’t offer the casual tourist a lot more than a bumpy ride. I would recommend to anyone in a small car heading W to go back to Hopetoun and take the sealed road to Ravensthorpe to join S Coast Highway.

The Parks people appear not to grade their dirt roads or do it infrequently. There was a very emphatic sign placed by the Bremer Bay shire on a dirt road at the edge of the park outside Bremer Bay stating that it was the limit of their road responsibilities. The difference in the surfaces was considerable! I guess they got sick of people complaining about the rough road beginning abruptly and not realising they had just crossed into the park.

We re-joined South Coast Highway at its intersection with Hamersley Drive and beelined to the Stirling Range NP with a brief lunch stop at Jerramungup.
 

JohnM

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Chester Pass Rd runs N-S through the Stirling Range (Stirling Range - Wikipedia). The major attraction to the E of Chester Pass Rd is Bluff Knoll (Bluff Knoll - Wikipedia). We bypassed that in favour of taking Stirling Range Drive westwards through the middle of the park, to eventually reach Mt Barker and then head back 20 or clicks to our destination in the Porongurup NP (Porongurup National Park - Wikipedia).

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Stirling Range NP was badly affected by a bushfire last summer, severely damaging the E side around Bluff Knoll.

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craven morehead

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Next morning it was out of Esperance and heading back W to our next destination of two nights in the Porongorup NP, deviating to the E side of Fitzgerald River NP on the way. We avoided retracing some of our outbound journey along S Coast Highway by going via Springdale Rd, a good dirt road that parallels it to the S, followed by a morning tea stop at little Hopetoun.

Typical S coast cloud and a little patchy light drizzle.

View attachment 239307

Hopetoun founded in 1901; pub built in 1907.

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Then into the park. The E side is hillier and rockier than the W side and stops are more focussed on flora lookouts and hiking trails to the Barren Range (East, West and Mid-Mt Barren, all named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 (West Mount Barren - Wikipedia, East Mount Barren - Wikipedia).

Interesting geology as well as spectacular biology. This interpretive area was a bit of a puzzle until we worked out that the concrete area where PJM is walking represents the ocean and the semi-artform objects represent the land features.

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Plenty of Hakea victoria and the Barrens were obscured.

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No wonder it's called Hopetoun. Waiting 6 years for the Pub to be built o_O🍻
 

JohnM

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First activity the next day was to tackle the Granite Skywalk at Castle Rock.

Lucky to snap this male Splendid Blue Wren (aka Splendid Fairy-wren) in the car park. It’s a 2.2 km hike to the base of the Skywalk; solid, but not heavy, going uphill. About an hour.

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Balancing Rock.

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JohnM

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There is a smaller, lower platform and the high one. Lower one first and looking up at the high one.


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Seemingly bizarre, the most difficult part of the ‘scramble’ to the upper platform is getting over a large boulder right at the start. I omitted to photograph it. The handles are all above the boulder. It seems strange that the construction didn’t provide for a few more handles to assist getting up onto the boulder. There must be a reason. It’s a major discussion point but nobody could figure out why more lower handles were not included.

Then there is a narrow, short chasm with a slightly difficult to scale rock at the end before reaching the base of the ladder to the platform.

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JohnM

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Then back down and a drive through the park past Stirling Range Lookout to have lunch near tree-in-the-rock and then just a bit of general looking around the area, including visiting the Sandalwood Shop (formerly Mt Romance) (Albany) near Albany.

Dinner that night at Maleeya’s Thai Café (Maleeya’s Thai Cafe – Real Fresh Thai Food), about 5 km from Karribank and something of an institution in the Porongurups. Recommended.

We could see their highland cattle in the distance from the café but the light was falling, so we paused as we drove past the next morning as we headed back to Perth via Collie and the Collie Mural Trail (Collie Mural Trail). Thanks to @OZDUCK for the recent heads-up on that.

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We were running a little tight on time as we were on a target to relieve PJM’s daughter of dog-minding duties, so apart from ‘Three Workers’ as we drove into town we only did a quick drive around Collie and a mobile scoping of town murals before heading to Wellington Dam and the biggie – which is still work in progress.

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And then the two-hour run into Perth finished a great trip!
 

OZDUCK

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Thanks for the photos. There seems to be a fair bit added to the dam wall mural in the few weeks since we were there.

We will be in Albany in 2 1/2 weeks so will try to get to the Caste Rock lookout then. We haven't been there for about 30 years.
 

Disco

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Then back down and a drive through the park past Stirling Range Lookout to have lunch near tree-in-the-rock and then just a bit of general looking around the area, including visiting the Sandalwood Shop (formerly Mt Romance) (Albany) near Albany.

Dinner that night at Maleeya’s Thai Café (Maleeya’s Thai Cafe – Real Fresh Thai Food), about 5 km from Karribank and something of an institution in the Porongurups. Recommended.

We could see their highland cattle in the distance from the café but the light was falling, so we paused as we drove past the next morning as we headed back to Perth via Collie and the Collie Mural Trail (Collie Mural Trail). Thanks to @OZDUCK for the recent heads-up on that.

View attachment 239490

We were running a little tight on time as we were on a target to relieve PJM’s daughter of dog-minding duties, so apart from ‘Three Workers’ as we drove into town we only did a quick drive around Collie and a mobile scoping of town murals before heading to Wellington Dam and the biggie – which is still work in progress.

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And then the two-hour run into Perth finished a great trip!
Thank you for the trip report; we go to Esperance in March and will check out the Castle Rock - didnt know it existed.
 
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