Park Feature - Cape Le Grand National Park
The dazzling white sand and pristine turquoise waters of Cape Le Grand National Park have put this area firmly in the running as one of Australia’s most beautiful stretches of beaches. Each year, thousands of visitors flock to the park to soak up the scenery, enjoy time in and on the water, and explore the park on a network of trails. Lucky Bay campground, which can be booked online, makes discovering this stunning area more comfortable and convenient than ever.
Wildlife, beaches, wildflowers and more
Located 50 kilometres from Esperance by sealed road, the 32,000-hectare Cape Le Grand National Park is truly spectacular. The pristine squeaky white sand and the unimaginably blue water of the bays dotted along the coastline are fodder for daydreams, while the inland sandplain erupts with colour in spring when wildflowers bloom. In the south-western part of the park, massive granite and gneiss outcrops form a chain of peaks, including Mount Le Grand, Frenchman Peak and Mississippi Hill, which can be explored on one of the park’s walk trails.
Lucky Bay, one of the park’s most popular beaches, is made even more charming by the population of 10 to 20 kangaroos – mostly females and their joeys – who spend much of their time lounging on the beach and hopping around the campground, seemingly unperturbed by the presence of delighted visitors.
A shyer local – the tiny honey possum – feeds on the various banksias that occur in the park, while quenda can occasionally be seen scurrying in the vegetation. Black-flanked rock-wallabies were reintroduced to the area in 2003, and this population plays an essential role in ensuring the State’s genetic and geographic diversity of these precious mammals.
The local Nyoongar people have long revered the area that is now known as Cape Le Grand National Park. In fact, stone artefacts, middens, man-made structures and tools that have been uncovered in the park indicate that humans have used the area for as many as 13,000 years. There is evidence that Aboriginal people occupied caves in granite outcrops at Smiths Block and Cheetup, and Mandooboornup (Frenchman Peak) and Mandoowernup (Mount Le Grand) both play an important role in Aboriginal mythology. Several sites in the park have been added to the National Heritage List on the Western Australian Register of Heritage Places for their Aboriginal cultural values.
In modern times, Cape Le Grand National Park has become a haven for campers and those on day trips from Esperance and other south coast locations. The area receives as many as 189,000 visitors each year, of whom about a quarter stay at least one night. And now, visitors to Lucky Bay campground are enjoying world-class facilities, thanks to recent infrastructure upgrades. The facilities were constructed by local contractors, after consultation with the local community and include a large area, which provides a special communal space for campers. Buildings such as an ablution block, toilets and barbecue shelters have een constructed using marine-grade colorbond steel that is designed to weather so it will blend in with the environment.
The solar showers in the campground, which are treated with UV light to ensure the water quality is maintained, are proving popular among visitors. And new signage is helping visitors appreciate the natural and cultural values of the area. The upgraded campground offers 56 campsites, which accommodate tents, caravans and camper trailers in one of the State’s most beautiful settings. Additionally, the nearby Le Grand Beach campground offers 14 more campsites, which have also been refurbished.
Many would argue that photos don’t do the area justice, but Optus users who do snap an ‘insta-worthy’ shot can take advantage of internet and phone coverage, courtesy of an optics tower that was installed in the park. Others can access the online campground booking system and park information through Parks and Wildlife Service’s wifi network. Being able to book campsites online, through parks.dbca.wa.gov.au, provides surety for visitors who can now secure their spot up to six months in advance, making it easier for people to visit this beautiful park and enjoy the new facilities.
Do it yourself
- Where is it? 30 kilometres south-east of Esperance, 50 kilometres by bitumen road.
- Total area: 32,000 hectares.What to do: Walking, camping, boating, picnicking, sightseeing, nature study, swimming, photography, fishing.
- Facilities: Gas barbecues, toilets, campsites, solar showers, picnic areas, shade shelters, water, walk trails.
- Entry and camping fees apply. Visit exploreparks.dbca.wa.gov.au for more information.
- Camping:For campsite bookings visit parks.dbca.wa.gov.au/park-stay
- Nearest offices: DBCA Esperance District 92 Dempster Street, Esperance WA 6450 or Cape Le Grand National Park PO Box 234, Esperance WA 6450 Phone: (08) 9075 9072
- This article appeared in LANDSCOPE magazine.