Cape Le Grand National Park
Earth : Oceania : Australia : Western Australia : Goldfields-Esperance : Cape Le Grand National Park
Cape Le Grand was established in 1966 and is now one of the most popular national parks in Western Australia.
The cape was named in honour of an officer on the French ship L'Esperance who climbed the tall ships mast during a storm to identify a safe place to wait it out in 1792. British explorer Matthew Flinders also dropped anchor in Lucky Bay in 1802. Rossiter Bay is named after the captain of the French Whaling ship Mississippi who saved explorer Edward John Eyre and his Aboriginal companion Wylie from starvation after they had completed their famed crossing of the Nullarbor Plain in 1841. Less notable accounts exist of whalers, sealers and pirates using the bays and isles for their trade over the past few hundred years.
Flora and fauna
It can be bitterly cold, thrashed by the frigid Antarctic winds in the winter. Spring is a good time to visit as the sun brings out the wild flowers.
The main entrance to the park is around 50 km by road from Esperance. Take Fisheries Road, then turn off at Merivale Road and on to Cape Le Grand Road to the park entrance.
The second entrance at the Le Grand Beach campsite is accessed by driving 30km along the beach from Wylie Bay. A 4WD is essential and be sure to check tides as parts of the beach can be cut off by the rising tide. Numerous people have lost their cars to the sea.
Seafarers can enter the park from the Southern Ocean. The park lacks jettys to dock at so you will have to drop anchor at a suitable spot offshore and make land fall on a smaller craft. Lucky Bay has been a popular sheltered water for centuries.
An fee of $11 per car is collected at each entrance gates. The ticket booths are generally staffed between 8AM and 4PM, but may close early or not be staffed during quiet periods. If ticket staff are not on duty you can still pay using the self service ticketing envelopes and deposit box at the rear of the ticket booth. The ticket is valid for the day of purchase but if you are camping and don't leave the park you only need to pay for the day you arrived. Make sure you keep the ticket displayed on your dashboard as park rangers sometimes do spot checks of vehicles inside the park.
The entry fee not required if you arrive on foot or from the ocean.
Sealed roads run through the park and to the main beaches.
A four section hiking trail follows 15km along the coastline from Cape Le Grand beach to Lucky Bay. The trail is well signposted and intermittent information boards explain the significant flora, fauna and cultural features of interest.
The abundant marine life in the crystal clear waters and a few wrecks attract divers to the region, though the frigid waters and turbulent current of the southern ocean might deter the feint hearted.
The closest shop in in Esperance.
Rainwater tanks and drinkable water taps can be found next to the campers kitchen at both camp sites.
The two prescribed camp sites for tents and caravans are the only option to stay overnight in the park. Esperance has numerous hotels, backpacker hostels and caravan parks.
Located at opposite ends of the park, the two low impact camping areas each have a district feel. Though the sites are basic, both provide treated rain water taps, solar heated shower block and a campers kitchen. The campers kitchen has BBQs, four burner cooktop and a sink. There aren't any publicly accessible electricity outlets.
Camping fees at both camp sites are $9 per adult, per night. The ranger collects the fees directly from you whenever they make their rounds.
Camping rough elsewhere or in parking lots is not permitted.