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CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK
HEMA map reference 83/J1
GPS 33 57 55 S 122 09 09 E
Park size: 32,000 Ha.
This park is 56 Km east of Esperance and was established in 1966.
The cape was named in 1792 by the French explorer Antonie Raymond Joseph De Brui Chevalier D'Entrecasteaux which makes us all pretty happy that he didn't name the place after himself.
Although the name may appear to have come from the spectacular scenery it was in fact named after a member of the French Expedition, Citizen Le Grand. There can hardly have been a happier coincidence in the naming of a place in the history of exploration. The naming is described as follows by the expeditions naturalist, Labillardiere:
"The Esperance was driving towards the land so rapidly that she was on the point of being stranded when Citizen Le Grand ... went to the masthead in the very midst of the tempest and almost immediately came down, explaining with enthusiasm that the ship was out of danger! He then pointed out the anchoring place ... This discovery saved both the ships [L'Esperance and Le Recherche] ... We gave [the cape] ... the name of Citizen Le Grand."
Later in 1802, Mathew Flinders visited the area and became caught in a storm. He sought shelter near the offshore islands but nothing suitable was found so he sailed towards the mainland (a risky strategy) and was able to find a safe anchorage in a large bay that he subsequently named Lucky Bay.
A little further along the coast the British expedition found timber and water and the cove was named after the man who had first sighted it, Mr. Thistle.
The early explorers were followed by sealers and whalers but the seal industry collapsed by 1840 due to the unrelenting slaughter.
In 1841 Edward John Eyre passed through the area on his expedition from the east. He was in great need of water and supplies and was lucky to find a whaling ship anchored off shore. (For the full story see Eyre's biography.)
Eyre, like all the explorers before him, considered the south coast to be 'arid and barren in the extreme' and this deterred settlement for quite some time.
The land in this area has remained above sea level for at least 200 million years. Because it has remained relatively undisturbed for such a long time, many species found here are surviving remnants of ancient populations.
Flora in the park includes Banksias, Melaleucas, Grevilleas, Sheoaks, Christmas tree and grass trees. Some of the more obvious fauna includes bandicoots, pygmy honey possums, ring tailed possums, quenda and western grey kangaroos.
I have been to many beaches around the world but the coastline in this area is without peer. The sparkling clear water, clean white sand, huge granite rocks and sheltered bays make it quite the most beautiful stretch of coastline I have ever seen.
Lucky Bay was once declared as having the whitest beach in Australia.
There is a 15 kilometre coastal walk trail that can be done in 4 different sections.
Le Garand Beach to Hellfire Bay - 3 hours, rated: difficult.
Best time to visit:
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