So you know how they say West is Best? Seemingly that rings true for both Canada, and Australia.
The beaches and the coastline here are simply unparalleled. Every single stop we make it seemingly just gets better and better. And right when you think it can’t possibly get any more beautiful – it does.
Staying in Esperance was a great time. We had a really fun, young, caravan park that we stayed at called Bather’s Paradise Holiday Park which once again, was right near the beach, and also hooked up to a great bike path that led you all the way down to what’s called the Great Ocean Drive.
Great Ocean Drive | this is basically like the little sister to the Great Ocean Road that we did in Victoria. It’s a stunning stretch of 40KM that takes you from one perfect paradise to the next. We biked from our accommodations past the city centre to Blue Haven beach, passing West Beach along the way.
The beaches here that seem to take all the glory are arguably Blue Haven, Twilight Beach and 11 Mile Beach, but West Beach was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen so we circled back to hang out here. I imagine it’s less acclaimed because the swimming is quite dangerous with the rip-curls and tides, but it was my happy place to bask on the warm white-sand + sunny spots to read a book for a short while. It was pristine, and basically empty, and I could have stayed there all day.
Here is just a snap-shot of a few of the stunning beaches along this drive:
Cape le Grand National Park | here is where the best of both worlds (for me) collided with beautiful, granite, white-sand beaches (Lucky Bay is deemed the whitest sand beach in all of Australia), coupled with an amazing hiking trail to take you through from end to end of the National Park. We didn’t do the full 15KM trek, but we did see some incredible sights along the way:
Lucky Bay | this bay has what’s called “squeaky” sand because of the texture it literally squeaks against your toes and shoes. It’s also FILLED with sweet Roos munching along on some washed up seaweed, and who are friendly enough to come and say hello to the eager beachers wanting to get their close-up.
Because the sand is quite literally granite, it’s also (obviously) quite hard so we were able to drive our car along the beach and setup shop wherever we so pleased!
Hellfire Bay + Little Hellfire | to me, Little Hellfire is exceptionally more stunning, secluded, untouched, and still hosted an array of Roos to greet you. I also spoke with a few travellers who saw a pod of 16 dolphins splashing around at Little Hellfire, and well, you can’t get any better than that. This was also our starting point for our hike from Hellfire to Thistle Cove, and I really don’t think we could have picked a better spot. It was like living in a postcard.
Thistle Cove | This was the final stop on our hike, and it was most definitely a reward for the work we’d put in to get there. The route we took to get here featured vast changing terrain, and was rated Class 5 Difficult (rated out of 5). Scheduled to take 3 hours, I think we knocked it off in about an hour and half. The hardest part, where I imagine the Class 5 came in, was when we needed to literally scale the side of a rock in order to break through to the beach front, but as soon as we saw what we were moving towards, I would have scaled just about any surface to get there.
So the thing about the Cape le Grand trail, which like I said extends 15KM from end to end, is that in order to complete the 15KM consecutively, it would best be done point to point. This means you’d need two cars. Well, we have one, and so we had to do it out and back. Or I should say, we thought we had to. I’ll explain our full route below.
When we reached Thistle Cove (aptly named it turns out as we encountered quite a bit of thistle in the more forested areas of this climb haha), it also turned out to be a fairly steep climb, up and down and up and down. The cool thing was you traversed a completely different area of the coast, so the views, colours and brush were a unique contrast to the pristine beaches on either side.
From Thistle Cove, like I said we could have turned around and go back, and I’ll note with all the ups and down on this track, it quite literally would have been uphill both ways, so we created our own circuit instead. We circled back to the main road and trekked about another hour and a half to Frenchman’s Peak where we could make our way up the STEEP climb to the summit.
A bit of irony for you: I’m terrified of heights. There were points here where it got the best of me and I become quite literally paralyzed with fear. But I have a mantra, you may have heard of it, so I keep telling myself over and over, with mind over matter, “just keep swimming,” and it works, haha. So one foot in front of the other, higher up we went.
Really all you see up here is basically nothing, for as far as the eye can see it’s vast, untouched land – green with a few trees and peeks of the bays and aquamarine waters on the coast side, so was it worth it? Sure, but only for the work-out, I’ll give it that much.
From Thistle Cove you can walk another easy hour to Lucky Bay, and further on to Rossiter Bay from there (again if you were doing this point to point with two vehicles).
Nonetheless, it was absolutely stunning! Give me a beach and I’m happy, but give me a solid hike and I’ve found bliss. Chalk this one up into the top 3 of my fave days thus far!