DID YOU KNOW??
Esperance’s coastal National Parks combine to cover a dramatic 3,200 square kilometres!?
FIRSTLY, SOME VERY IMPORTANT NATIONAL PARK NOTES
Please follow the signs & stay on roads. Normal road rules apply.
Help to protect our natural environment by staying on marked tracks and avoid spreading mud (dieback fungus), particularly following rain.
No firearms or pets, or unlicensed vehicles please.
For more information on any of the National Parks including access, road conditions, camping and entry fees etc, visit the Department of Parks & Wildlife website.
Alternatively you can contact the area specific DPaW officers, who are always happy to help:
Cape Le Grand NP: (08) 9075 9072
Cape Arid NP: (08) 9075 0055
Stokes NP: (08) 9076 8541
Esperance District Office: (08) 9083 2100
CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK
Possibly the most iconic and spectacular of the Southern Coastal National Parks, is Cape Le Grand (image above & below). Located approx. half an hour east of Esperance, the park’s rolling heathlands are home to pygmy possums and the western grey kangaroo. The roos are often spotted lazing on the white sandy beaches, or skipping among the local campsites and socialising with visitors to the park. Home to many sheltered turquoise bays, where the clean white sand literally squeaks underfoot. Swim in a sheltered nook at Hellfire Bay, Lucky Bay (image above) or Thistle Cove (home to the Whistling Rocks). Lucky Bay is also home to the Lucky Bean Café, one of the only places you can purchase a barista made coffee right on the beach and often in the good company of the local kangaroos.
Boats may be launched with caution from Lucky Bay, as well as the Cape Le Grand beach. Dunns Rock on the eastern end of the National Park is also a picturesque & popular fishing spot. The 20 kilometre ‘Le Grand Coastal Track’ links many of the park’s most spectacular coastal sections and runs from Cape Le Grand Beach to Rossiter Bay (via Hellfire Bay) and features excellent views. Always be sure to carry drinking water with you, and embark with appropriate footwear. During wildflower season these trails are brimming with a diverse array of magnificent wildflowers, including dense thickets of showy banksia.
Camping: The Cape Le Grand Campground and the Lucky Bay Campground have camp kitchens, gas barbecues, picnic tables, toilets, showers and nondrinking water. No power is available and fires are not permitted. Camping & entry fees apply and camp sites operate on a first come, first served basis.
Roads: The drive from Esperance to Cape Le Grand National Park is by sealed road. Roads to all recreational sites within the park are also sealed, except for the road to Rossiter Bay, which is graded for 2WD.
CAPE ARID NATIONAL PARK
This exceptionally large National Park covers an area of 2,794 square kilometres and is best known for its stunningly beautiful beaches, clear blue seas and rocky headlands. Approx. 120km east of Esperance and accessible by road, most of the National Park itself is 4WD only. Cape Arid is a wildly beautiful and biodiverse area. Coastal sand heaths, mallee and low granite hills extend inland to Mount Ragged, after which the vegetation is transformed into woodlands dominated by saltbush and bluebush. The jagged Russell Range, which rises to its highest point at Tower Peak (almost 600 metres), comprises of ancient uplifted quartzite.
This near-pristine wilderness is an important conservation area for 1100 species of plants and more than 160 bird species, several of which are threatened or endangered. Migrating whales pass by close to the headlands in late winter and spring. Together with Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Eucla National Park to the east, Cape Arid National Park forms an almost continuous nature conservation area to the South Australian border. All areas within the Cape Arid National Park are remote locations and it is crucial to be fully self-sufficient. Take camping gear, ample water and non-perishable food, first aid kit, tool kit, spare tyres and parts, recovery gear, CB radio and extra fuel. One of the best ways to experience the park’s diverse wildlife and magnificent scenery is on a walk, and there are many trails to follow… see our Wildflowers & Walk Trails page for more info.
Camping: Limited camping facilities (pit toilets, BBQs, no power or water) are available at the Thomas River camp ground and also at Thomas Fishery, Jorndee Creek and Mt Ragged. Camping fees apply and camp sites operate on a first come, first served basis. The Seal Creek campground, Seal Creek day shelter and commercial fishing camp site were destroyed by bushfire in October 2015 and were closed to allow rehabilitation and rebuilding. It is very important to check in with the Department of Parks & Wildlife before planning to camp in this area, to confirm access and continuing closures.
STOKES NATIONAL PARK
The Stokes National Park is located approx. 80 km west of Esperance along the South Coast Highway, and access to the Inlet is via a 7.5km gravel road. The park features one of the most picturesque estuaries along WA’s southern coastal region and is a great place for fishing, camping, bushwalking and birdwatching. The 14 square kilometre inlet features long beaches and rocky headlands backed by sand dunes. Dense bush and shady paperbark trees fringe the water’s edge and is teeming with abundant birdlife. Stokes Inlet is the largest of a number of estuaries around Esperance, and the only one with reasonably deep water. Visitors can walk to the Estuary Mouth if water levels allow. Walk the Heritage Trail, a 4.3km (1.5 hour) return walk that includes on-site plaques describing changes that have occurred to the inlet environment. The path provides magnificent views of the inlet and its surrounds. Visitors can also explore the ‘Moir Homestead’ ruins, built 140 years ago (image above).
Day visitors and bushwalkers can also enjoy Stokes Inlet, Skippy Rock, Shoal Cape, and Fanny Cove. The inlet is also popular for fishing and canoeing and it is possible to launch small boats from the campsites. Be aware, however, that although the area of water looks large there are extensive areas of shallows and rocks. Normal fisheries regulations apply in national parks. Species caught include black bream, Australian salmon, King George whiting and mullet.
Camping: Visitors can camp at Stokes Inlet (2WD), or Skippy Rock and Fanny Cove (4WD only). The Stokes Inlet bush campground provides toilets & BBQs and fees apply. You must bring enough drinking water for your needs as there is none available in the park. All rubbish must be carried out as there are no bins.
Roads: The main entrance is from Stokes Inlet Road, which is gravel and provides easy access for 2WD vehicles and large caravans. The remainder of the park is 4WD only.
Mandatory image credits:
Kangaroo on Lucky Bay, Greg Snell // WA Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) Cape Le Grand, Tourism WA // Frenchmans Peak, Greg Snell // Ruins of Moir Homestead, Tourism WA