The Great Southern Ocean

Oh Gerry if only you’d known when you introduced this song to the pop world. I love this song – such a haunting version and how apt for these difficult times. Bet you didn’t know that we can thank Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for writing it for their musical Carousel.

We moved on from Fraser Range to Esperance with a stop in Norseman (annual average rainfall 270mm) for a cuppa and a bun. Norseman is the western point of the Nullarbor and an old goldmining town now making a bit of a revival with gold and nickel. The story goes that it is named after Hardy Norseman a prospectors horse that kicked at the ground and unearthed a large gold nugget. As expected though it is a little hamstrung with its rainfall. Esperance is two hours south west and at the start of the south west coast of W.A. To say Norseman and Esperance are chalk and cheese is an understatement.

Esperance is a quaint little town of 12,000 people which boasts Australia’s whitest beach in Lucky Bay. They all looked dazzlingly white to us and an astonishingly aqua sea when the sun shone. It was once a whaling centre and now tourist town offering seal and whale watching tours amongst the 110 stunningly beautiful islands of the Recherche Archipelago.

The name of the town came from the French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec who in 1792 sailed into the bay in the good ship Esperance. Matthew Flinders also arrived in 1802 and sailed the Bay of Iles. It is at the foot of the wheatbelt and the port is an export point for nickel, iron ore and wheat and for unloading fuel and fertiliser. The town is also the point where in July 1979 the spacestation Skylab fell to earth scattering its pieces around the town. The council fined the US Government $400 for littering. The San Francisco Examiner offered $10,000 for the first piece of Skylab to be delivered to their offices. Seventeen-year-old Stan Thornton scooped a few pieces of Skylab off the roof of his home in Esperance, caught the first flight to San Francisco, and collected the prize. True story.

Esperance Main Beach with the town and port in the background

We had five wonderful days in Esperance before moving on to Bremer Bay following a tip from a fellow camper. Bremer Bay is at the mouth of the Bremer River and on the doorstep of the Fitzgerald River National Park – one of Australias largest and most botanically significant parks with, at last count over 1800 plant species. The bay is a fisherman’s paradise and one of only three places in Australia where the Southern Right Whale comes to calve. Orcas are common and the bay itself is breathtaking with bleached white sand beaches and turquoise blue seas. And you don’t go thirsty or hungry here. Local man Zane Mitchell has just opened a craft brewery and restaurant which along with the local resort and two other restaurants means BB has four watering holes for its 200 person population. We cycled out to the Museum Restaurant on the 8km Native Snail Trail (named after the Native Snail that lives here) for lunch. Before we got sucked into a wine and beer trail we left for Albany.

7 thoughts on “The Great Southern Ocean

  1. Hi Mike & Margaret, Hope you get to Quobba – one of our most favourite places back in 2005. Probably popular now. To the left of the blowholes and past the shacks. We had our own private beach spot complete with shelter. Dave & Melody


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s