Yesterday we called at the port of Esperance in the state of Western Australia. Esperance is a town of around 14,000 and is located about an eight hour drive from Perth. Perth is one of the world’s most isolated cities, so that makes Esperance seriously isolated. Esperance is a pretty little town with a very nice foreshore. That’s what Australians call the waterfront area. Beaufortonians call that the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. To each his own, right? So, here we will go with “foreshore.” The town is small and, like several towns we visited, the townspeople come out in force to welcome tourists, volunteering in all sorts of ways. Normally, our driver and bus actually transport school children. When a ship calls on the port, the bus is pressed into service ferrying tourists around. The reason we stopped at Esperance is because it is a gateway of sorts to more than one national park. We were there to visit Cape LeGrand National Park.
Rick and I really wanted to see the pink lake in Esperance, but the nice lady at the visitor desk informed us that, sadly, the lake is no longer pink. Seems the algae that rendered it Pepto Bismol pink has died and the lake is gray. (But wait a minute! It’s still pink on Pinterest!) Plan B: we decided to jump in a taxi and check out the Mermaid Leather shop. Back in 1989, two fishermen saw a need to recycle the skins of fish from the food industry. Thus, their business was born and they have a thriving enterprise tanning and dying the skins of snapper, shark, and barramundi, as well as other fish caught and consumed locally. They use these skins in the manufacture of all sorts of leather products. Below is a picture of my catch of the day.
Later, on the way to the park, we stopped to see a full size replica of Stonehenge. This replica is exactly how Stonehenge would have looked around 1590 BC, before people started absconding with some of its parts and pieces. It is about ten miles out of town on the property of a farmer and his wife. I am sure everyone’s first question is, “What in the world would possess a sane person to decide one day to build an exact replica of Stonehenge on a farm in the remote outback of Australia?” It seems that this project was commissioned by someone else and they ran into financial problems, so Kim and Jillian purchased the stones and had it assembled on their property. The alignment of the structure to the summer and winter solstice along with the measuring and positioning of the stones was done by Kim. An architectural firm was involved with the floor plan and stone sizes.
Our next stop was at Lucky Bay in the Cape LeGrand National Park. It is billed as the whitest beach in Australia and it is stunning. There were three kangaroos on the beach when we were there. That was almost as odd to see as Stonehenge on a farm. After that, we stopped at Hellfire Bay. If this is what hell looks like, I cannot imagine how beautiful heaven must be! It was a little cloudy when we arrived, but it was still a gorgeous bay. First I have a few pictures of Lucky Bay, then one from Hellfire Bay.
On the way back to port, our driver/guide told us another quirky tale of Esperance. Way back in 1979, the space station Skylab had outlived its usefulness and was programmed to disintegrate and fall into the Indian Ocean. Well, that did not work out exactly according to the plan. Big chunks rained down on Esperance. Really big chunks; chunks the size of a bus. The residents of Esperance pretty much took it in stride, but did fine the USA $400 for littering. Seems there were lots of contests and lots of joking in the US about where the parts and pieces would fall. A radio show host apparently thought everyone should cut NASA a little slack about a few “slight errors” and he came up with the money from his morning listeners and paid the fine on behalf of NASA. The San Francisco Examiner offered a reward of $10,000 to the first person who could present some of this litter. A seventeen year old kid gathered up some debris from his family’s roof, jumped on the first airplane to San Francisco, and walked away with the prize money. There is a large mural on the side of a building depicting this event and acknowledging the fact that the fine was paid in full.
All in all, Esperance was a perfect little snapshot of why we love to travel. We meet really nice people and talk about what we have in common, not what divides us. We see the beauty of nature and have phenomenal experiences that make our life so much fuller and richer. So, on we go!