Off the Beaten Track in Esperance
Esperance is amazing, until you find yourself a little off the beaten track…
Have you ever tried to pitch a tent in the pitch black? Well let me tell you, it’s not very easy at all!
Hope you’ve all had a great week. Sorry for my recent silence, I had a busy few days exploring our south-east coast in Esperance and we were pretty much off the grid with no internet so I didn’t get much of an opportunity to blog.
But I’m back and have heaps of great content to share with you over the next few weeks before I head off to the US.
First, let me tell you about Esperance and how amazing it was.
For those that don’t know, Esperance is about 8 hours south of Perth and on the coastline, there are 5 national parks around the town of Esperance and we spent a few days exploring the biggest and most famous, Cape Le Grand National Park.
To get to Esperance, I actually flew to Kalgoorlie to meet my boyfriend (he’s been working there recently) and then we drove from there. The drive itself is only meant to take 4 hours, however we encountered a few hurdles along the way. Now sit back, relax, and let me take you for a ride.
I landed at 11am and we were on the road to Esperance by 11.05am – the boys had done all the hard work preparing and all I had to do was throw in my bag and take the front passenger seat. We weren’t even out of Kalgoorlie yet when the boys decided they needed a bathroom break so we stopped at the first petrol station we saw and had a break. We weren’t exactly sure which way we needed to turn when we left the station so we turned to the ever so trustworthy Siri for guidance. 20 minutes later, after telling us to head in one direction, she decided to change her mind and get us to head back the other way.
Finally we were on the road and headed in the right direction. The weather forecast wasn’t the greatest and the storm-clouds were rolling in as we drove along the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway but we weren’t going to let them rain on our parade. A few hours into our drive we decided it was time to stop for food so we pulled over at the next petrol station. A few things went wrong at this point, but nothing we couldn’t handle. We had left the car lights on while we had been inside eating, but luckily the car started. As we were about to pull onto the road, a wave of sickness came over me so we had to pull back in so I could run inside, I guess the positive of this was that we hadn’t driven too far.
I’m not sure if this contributed to what happened next, but finally we were back on the road and we were making pretty good time. If we kept driving from this point with no more stops we’d be in Esperance by 4pm, then the fun really began. Not even 10 minutes down the road and we saw a police car approaching us from the opposite direction, at first we thought nothing of it, but then we heard the sirens blaring and saw them heading back in our direction. With no other cars in sight, we knew they were heading back for us so we pulled over to avoid any trouble.
They were initially stopping us for speeding (10kms over and on Easter weekend so a hefty fine for my boyfriend), then they tried to get us for drink driving but luckily Freddie hadn’t had a drop of alcohol so he blew clean in the test. Just when we thought we’d be fine and back on our way, the worst possible thing happened.
They also discovered the car we were driving (the boys’ work ute) wasn’t registered, and hadn’t been for over a year!! So we were in big trouble. There was a bit of a good cop-bad cop routine going on, with the female cop doing everything in her power to try make this as easy as possible for us, especially once she realised it was my boyfriend’s birthday weekend as well. And the male cop seemingly doing everything he could to ruin it.
After a lot of deliberation and phone calls to the boss etc. the cops decided they’d have to take the plates and would allow us one journey permit to get home safely. The logical solution at this point would’ve been for us to drive back to Kalgoorlie which was obviously where we, and the car, needed to end up. So this is what we asked for. We got our pass and the cops were back on their way, BUT we weren’t quite ready to give up on Esperance just yet.
We decided to place one last call to the boss and see what he thought of us driving the work ute to Esperance and then hiring a ute to tow it back the following idea. He was very receptive to the idea and encouraged us to be on our way. But now we had a problem, our journey permit was for Kalgoorlie and we wanted to head in the opposite direction.
So we did what anyone in our situation would do, we phoned the local police station (Norseman) and asked if they thought we’d be allowed to drive to Esperance. (I actually doubt many people would be in this situation and have bothered to do this). The guy on the phone wasn’t really sure, but he managed to get in touch with the officers and they ended up agreeing to come back and write us a new permit to drive to Esperance.
An hour and a half later, and well behind schedule, but we were back on our way! Woohooooo.
Our original goal had been to set up camp before sunset so we could sit and enjoy the beauty, however that didn’t quite go to plan. Now the aim was to just make it before dark, and to do this without anymore speeding.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen either, we were running low on fuel so had to make one more stop in a tiny town called Salmon Gums. If you’ve ever watched Wolf Creek, then this little town reminded me of that, there was a petrol station/roadhouse and across the road there was this property with all old, rusted cars and trucks. Thankfully there was still some daylight while we were there, but the sun was well and truly starting to set.
We made it into Esperance town just before dark and were pulled over by another set of police wanting a random breath test, lucky we passed this again. Then the cop asked where our plates were and he was fine with our story, and actually gave us some hope that getting home wouldn’t be as bad as the first cop had made out to be.
Restored with faith we quickly grabbed something to eat and started the 40 minute drive out to the National Park despite it already getting dark. We could’ve pitched a tent in town and driven to the park in the morning, but where’s the adventure in that?
Now Freddie had been to Esperance a few weeks before so he claimed he knew where he was going, however the darkness was even throwing him off. We made it to the National Park and thankfully the gates weren’t locked so we were able to drive straight in, but then the next problem came up. The park has about 6 or 7 turn offs to different bays and Freddie had no idea which one was the one that got you straight onto the beach. By this time the rest of us were getting a bit scared.
It was pitch black, we had no idea where we were, it seemed we were just driving aimlessly, these scary birds kept flying straight towards our car, and to top it off we had no real food (just some crisps and snacks). Out of nowhere we saw these car lights beaming in front of us but something wasn’t quite right, as we approached we realised the car was stopped on the wrong side of the road and we were heading straight for a collision, but lucky we swerved just in time to miss it.
By this point the rest of us were ready just to turn around and go back to town, then find our way back to the park in the morning. But Freddie was worried about the car having no plates and we knew he was right so we continued driving along the seemingly endless, pitch-black road.
It really was becoming like a scene out of Wolf Creek then finally we saw some light, we found one of the campsites, but it was full and we didn’t want to stay there.
We were all a bit calmer now that we’d seen some human activity so we continued the drive and were less freaked out. The only thing we did have to watch out for now was the kangaroos. I was sitting so far forward I almost went through the windscreen but I wanted to be a good lookout. Finally we found where we needed to be.
We drove onto the beach and there was absolutely no-one else around. Kind of got the impression we weren’t meant to be there at this time, but this had been our plan all along and we weren’t going to give up when we were so close.
And we’ve made it to my opening sentence. Have you ever pitched a tent in the pitch black?
Well it definitely is not easy. We had the ute’s headlights beaming and some torches from our phones which actually did an alright job. Luckily they were just basic dome tents that didn’t take a lot of work and after about half an hour, we were finally set for the night.
We had our tents pitched, our fire blazing, tunes playing and wine flowing.
Finally we could relax after our adventurous day.
Not quite. Mother Nature had other plans for us. The rain that had thankfully held out for the last leg of our drive and while we were setting up camp, came tumbling down. We’d had less than an hour to enjoy our campfire before it was time to call it a night, but we were all pretty knackered anyway so we didn’t mind too much.
We fell asleep and hoped for a better day.
P.S. If you like what you’ve read feel free to like, comment, or share. Your time reading my post is greatly appreciated. 🙂