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  • Day128

    Cape Le Grand National Park

    October 22, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    We farewelled our new Lego friends and headed out on the Southern Ocean Road towards Esperance. Gorgeous wildflower displays lined the sides of the roads and the bugs were having a feeding frenzy - we ended up with more bugs on our windscreen (and glued all over the car) than any other time on this trip! As we headed towards the main highway, we spotted 2 emus racing off into the scrub...and then we saw the 5 chicks trying desperately to follow! Two headed through the scrub after their parents but the other 3 continued to run along the side of the road. At that point we ground to a halt and waited for Dad to come back and find his youngsters and then they all raced off together.
    We stopped off in Esperance to restock and the headed out of town for our last beach camp in WA. We'd been looking forward to exploring the white sandy beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park but the weather wasn't quite what we'd ordered! We turned up on a windy Saturday and discovered all sites in the sheltered (but small) Cape Le Grand campground were full so had to settle for Lucky Bay which offered better views but little protection from the weather. We headed into the newer section of the campground and set ourselves up on a site we hoped wouldn't get too much wind. Even though it was windy, the white sand and turquoise water made for a spectacular looking beach. We briefly checked it out and then made sure to have a shower before the solar hot water ran out!
    Sunday, as forecast, delivered up some pretty unpleasant weather - the worst we've had in the van for the entire trip (Jurien Bay would have claimed the honour if not for the house!) and we spent the day oscillating between activities inside like audiobooks, puzzles, drawing, Lego and card games and dragging the kids outside in coats for some fresh air (and sanity!). Mid afternoon the weather looked like it was clearing so we donned our rain coats again and headed along the walking track to Thistle Cove. Great walk - soggy kangaroo families out for a snack amongst an amazing wildflower display and some gorgeous coastal scenery. Thistle Cove (Matthew Flinders named this for his ship's master, John Thistle, who discovered fresh water nearby) looked fabulous (even under grey skies) so we vowed to return the next day when the forecast had promised blue skies and sunshine...
    Sadly for us, the forecasters got it very wrong and we woke to grey skies with clouds so low they touched the nearby hills! At least the wind had disappeared so we headed down to Lucky Bay beach for a walk. A really beautiful beach but it seems a shame that they allow cars to drive on it, particularly when there is an obvious Oystercatcher population (who nest in the sand above the tide mark). Even more aggravating was the ignorant tourists hand feeding the local kangaroos with savoury crackers out of a box (and trying to kiss them!!) despite the signs requesting they not be fed (and the potential for ranger-issued fines if caught). The kangaroo population at Lucky Bay were very used to cohabiting with humans - they spent much of their time cruising around the campsite feeding on the native vegetation and it was possible to get really close to them to photograph them without them so much as looking up. Having said that, they were also incredibly obliging for photographers - we witnessed some standing up on their hind legs to have a scratch right in front of a tourist (so close he had to move back to use his zoom lens!), and one rolling around on its back on the beach like a dog!
    By early afternoon on Monday we had to admit the promised sunshine was not going to eventuate but the kids were keen to climb Frenchman Peak so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We donned our hiking boots, hopped in the car for the short drive and started our ascent up the steep hill. We were glad we'd worn decent shoes (and even more so, that we hadn't attempted it directly after yesterday's rain) because the climb up involved navigating the rock face - there were plenty of hand and foot holes for grip but they're probably the first place water races down after rain! The views the whole way up were amazing and even on an overcast day offered vistas into the far distance. From the top it was possible to get a 360 degree view - we all agreed it was worth the climb!
    Following our descent, we briefly stopped off at the nearby Hellfire Bay (apparently named for St Elmo's fire which is an electrical discharge sometimes seen around the top of ships' masts). Another perfect looking beach - this National Park would be so tough to leave in great weather!
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