CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK

 

HEMA map reference 83/J1

 

Cape LeGrand - Western Australia

 

GPS 33 57 55 S 122 09 09 E

 

 

 

 

Entry fee and / or camping fee charged Toilets available Tables and / or seats and / or shelters provided Fire places or BBQs available Tent camping sites Caravan access possible Big rig access possible Pets prohibited Boat launching possible Swimming allowed Fishing allowed (some sites may require a freshwater license.) Sight seeing area Walk trails Ranger or caretaker on site Showers available

 

 

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Park size: 32,000 Ha.

 

Cape LeGrand is located about 50 kilometres south east of Esperance in the south east corner of Western Australia.

The area was declared a national park in 1966 but European contact with the area goes much further back in time.

The cape was named by French explorer Antonie Raymond Joseph De Brui Chevalier D'Entrecasteaux and I guess we should be happy that he didnít name it after himself.

We will get to the history of the cape a little later in the video.

Le Grand Beach

Following the access road straight in you will first come to Le Grand Beach. This wide sandy beach stretches all the way back to Esperance and when the tides are right, it is possible to drive a 4wd vehicle back to Wylie Bay.

There are two campsites in the park and the first you encounter is at LeGrand Beach.

You must pre-book a site online if you want to stay overnight and there are both park entry fees and camping fees to pay.

As this is a national park, pets are not allowed here. Campfires are also prohibited at all times.

Generators are allowed between the hours of 8am-1pm and 5pm-9pm.

This campsite tends to be quieter and less busy than the one at Lucky Bay but the sites donít have a view of the water.

There is an ablution block with showers and flushing toilets. There is also a camp kitchen with a gas cook top, BBQ and sink.

There are 14 campsites here but although you have to book ahead, it is not possible to select a specific campsite. You have to select from what is available when you arrive. This also applies to Lucky Bay.

Frenchman Peak

Although the French explored the coast here and named many features, it was the explorer Alexander Forrest who named Frenchman Peak.

It was thought that the structure at the top resembled a French beret.

There is a large cave high up that is easily visible. It might be hard to believe now but it is thought that the cave was formed by wave action when sea levels were 300 metres higher than they are now some 40 million years ago.

There is a 3 kilometre walk trail leading up from the car park near the base of the rock.

The peak is 262 metres high and the walk trail is classified as difficult and takes about 2 hours one way. It is important not to try and take a short cut to the top and to ensure you follow the marked path.

Do not attempt this walk if there is rain or strong wind. This trail is only recommended for very experienced and well equipped walkers.

Hellfire Bay

Hellfire is regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in the park. It is ideal for swimming in fine weather and is one of the most popular places to take photographs.

It is thought the name originated with St Elmo's fire. This is a bluish electrical discharge that was sometimes observed occurring between the masts of sailing ships.

Thistle Cove

In 1802, Mathew Flinders visited the area and was 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.

Lucky Bay

The second campsite in the park is located at Lucky Bay and due to the stunning views, is certainly the more popular of the two.

The facilities and rules here are the same as at LeGrand Beach but the toilets here are long drop style instead of flushing.

It is possible to drive on to the beach here with a 4wd and drive along to the far end of the bay.

There are day used areas with BBQs, seats, tables and shelters and bins are also available.

There is a mob of kangaroos that call they bay home and they can often be seen relaxing on the beach or wandering through the campsite.

During busier times of the year you will also find a food van parked on the beach where you can buy drinks and snacks.

Rossiter Bay

Rossiter Bay is accessed via an unsealed road.

The bay was named after Captain Rossiter of the ship, Mississippi.

Edward John Eyre had crossed the Nullarbor in 1841 and was suffering malnutrition and thirst when he stumbled upon the Mississippi anchored in this bay.

Rossiter gave assistance to Eyre who named the bay after him in gratitude. (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 bay here is often covered in deep seaweed.

History of the park

Although the name LeGrand 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, Lab-ill-ard-iere:

"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."

The early explorers were followed by sealers and whalers but the seal industry collapsed by 1840 due to the unrelenting slaughter.

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 has been declared as having the whitest beach in Australia.

Walk trails

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.
Hellfire Bay to Thistle Cove - 2 hours, rated difficult.
Thistle Cove to Lucky Bay - 40 minutes, rated easy.
Lucky Bay to Rossiter Bay - 3 hours, rated moderate.

There is also:

Frenchman's Peak trail - 3-4 hours, rated difficult.

Le Grand heritage trail - 40 minutes, rated easy.

 

 

NPW Website for more information

 

 

Best time to visit:

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

 

 

 

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