Perth to Esperance Road Trip

Esperance is a place with so many unusual and interesting things to do, and I see that it would be a waste not to spend some extra time there.

The drive from Perth to Esperance, which is 696km long, is a long one. It is important to make a few stops along the way.

You’ll also miss more than you think if you drive directly to the area. For example, you’ll miss Australia’s largest yabby-export operation, a secret shed of vintage cars, and a jet engine that broke world records. Not to mention WA’s ‘Dead Sea.

Break up the journey and make it an adventure. Each direction can be different and done in a few days.

Perth to York: 98km/1.5hr

You should start with York and Penny Farthing Sweets. The old-school lolly store is a nostalgic treat for the senses.

The Avon River runs parallel to the main street, with its many cafes. Flying foxes, swing bridges, and a riverside campsite are all available.

York to Corrigin 135km/1.5hr

As you approach Corrigin, the landscape changes, and the paddocks expand. The Corrigin Dog Cemetery was established in 1974. A large statue of a flower-wrapped kelpie marks the entrance to the heartfelt memorials for our furry companions. Pay your respects to the gravestones of Shep, Phoenix, and Lassie (not the one you think).

Corrigin to Kulin 54km/36

If you haven’t seen the Tin Horse Highway, it’s worth the 15 minutes to add a side trip to Kulin. The quirky roadside attraction, which stretches 15km long and is made up of over 70 tin animals, is like playing eye-spy. You never know when you’ll see a new creature.

The 182m long, 18m high water slide in town is the largest in the region of WA. Kulin Aquatic Centre’s opening hours can be found in advance.

Kulin to Wave Rock, Hyden – 83km/53km

Hyden is Wave Rock’s hub town; drive five minutes beyond it and find the 2700-million-year-old rock formation that draws visitors from far and wide. Wait until sunset to explore the rock formation. The 15m high wave will appear even more impressive as the sun sets and the light becomes softer. Scale the side of this 110m-long granite wall and enjoy the endless views of the surrounding farmland and bush.

The stripes of the rock look like a vertical earthen rainbow when viewed from ground level. Take a picture of yourself ‘ surfing the wave.’

Hippo’s Yawn is another impressive formation that lives up to its name. Children love to crawl up the boulders and climb the gaping mouth. Agile adults can fit through the gaps.

Follow the path towards Wave Rock Resort, over wooden boardwalks, to salty expanses dotted with sculptural and brittle branches. Lake Magic is a captivating salt lake made of gypsum.

Mulka’s Cave is worth the 18km dirt road if you arrive before sunset. The Cave is filled with hundreds of Aboriginal handprints created by ochre. There are many other rock art patterns visible. In total, there are 452 different motifs in seven colors. This site has the largest collection in the South West of WA of Aboriginal paintings – other areas have less than 20 pieces.

Wave Rock Resort offers self-contained cottages. You can reach the resort via a winding road past Wave Rock Airport and a fence decorated with steel cutouts of emus.

The salt pool is also open to non-guests for $10 per adult and $5 per child. Step onto the muddy bath bottom and plunge into the jade-colored water. Turn on your back, stop swimming, then step out. You will float as if you were in the Dead Sea. The weightlessness is the closest thing you will ever experience to being an astronaut. Soon, swinging daybeds will be added, along with toilets and private showers, to the circular swimming pool. This will give it a desert spa feel.

Wave Rock to Ravensthorpe: 175km/1hr44min

Wave Rock, as a whole, is not all that there is to see and do. A number of niche attractions are located just a short walk away from the rock formation.

The Miniature Soldier Museum has a collection of 10,000 miniature war figures that are the size of a pinky finger. The former owner of the group recreated scenes from everything from the American Civil War to the Great World Wars. The group also includes large ships that are made of spam cans, bottle tops, and sardine tins.

The Lace Place is located next door. It has an extensive collection of lace, which is kept in low lights to preserve its intricate designs, some as fine as spiderwebs. Sheenagh Collins, who owns both groups and leads tours, says that it takes an hour to embroider one inch of lace.

Look up to see the dried flower creations in the shape of butterflies that Sheenagh created for insulation. After the farm that she and her late-husband Dennis borrowed money to purchase went through two frosts and a severe drought, they opened the cafe. Sheenagh used to host up to 12 tour buses a day before COVID; things are much quieter now.

A $20 ticket allows entry to all attractions, plus the wildlife park, run by Sheenagh’s mother, as well as the Pioneer Town Museum. Head to Ravensthorpe via Lake King.

Ravensthorpe – Esperance 207km/2hr15

Ravensthorpe, a town surrounded by wildflowers, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2022. The Wildflower Show (12-24 September) is the perfect way to commemorate this. As you pass under the 100m-long entry statement of the town, you’ll see a 100m overpass with honeyeaters painted on it.

PUBLIC Silo Trail features large banksias, honey possums, and other artwork on the town’s grain storage silos. The floral theme is carried through the main road, which has a few shops and cafes.

Continue to Esperance. Make the Great Ocean Drive west of town a priority and stop at beaches like Twilight Cove or Blue Haven. Cape Le Grand National Park is to the east. Here, roos can be seen lazing in Lucky Bay on ivory sands. Hellfire Bay has glass-clear waters and a view of roos.

You can reward yourself by climbing Frenchman Peak and then enjoying a local beer made at the Lucky Bay Brewery. It is only a short distance away. Enjoy a chopper trip (Oct-Apr) to Woody Island or the pink Lake Hillier.

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