Drag your feet along the sand as you admire the amazing beach and it squeaks back at you! The water is blue, crystal clear and cool year round.
Esperance itself is an amazing destination to visit, but if you have a 4WD there are some truly epic adventures you can have within just 4 hours to the east of Esperance. In a 4WD, you are guaranteed to get your own private slice of perfect beach to enjoy for the day.
Cape Le Grand Beach
Heading out of Esperance along Fisheries Road, take the right turn onto Bandy Creek Road, and then left onto Wylie Bay Road. At the end, deflate your tyres and get prepared for some of the most pristine coastline in the world.
There is a massive rock at Wylie Bay which you can drive over (do so carefully and only if you are competent), and enjoy the incredible views. After driving over, or around the rock, you have 20km of beach to travel along before getting to Cape Le Grand; a point worthy of a look. You can camp at Cape Le Grand too.
You’ll struggle to find an article written about Esperance that doesn’t mention Lucky Bay. It’s by far the most publicised beach on the southern coast, famous for its pure white sand, crystal clear water and the local kangaroos that hang around the beach.
In terms of beaches around the world, it is up there with the best. Lucky Bay has just had a huge upgrade on the camping facilities, and is one of the most popular places to visit in the area.
However, bear this in mind; year round it can be very busy. You do not need a 4WD to get to Lucky Bay; it’s bitumen all the way, unless you come via Wylie Bay and Cape Le Grand Beach.
Lucky Bay is your first right after heading out of Cape Le Grand along the bitumen. You can drive on the beach at Lucky Bay, which is usually pretty solid.
Duke of Orleans
Heading out of Lucky Bay, you can take the right turn onto Merivale road, and right again onto Orleans Bay Road. This takes you to Duke of Orleans Caravan Park, which is a brilliant place. It’s a little community with locals that live in the caravan park and a combined general store/service station/caravan park office. There are more amazing beaches and 4WD tracks here than you’ll need.
It’s one of the unique communities left in Australia where motorbikes are ridden carefully along the roads to get to the beach, and without the business of a small country town. Regardless of where the wind is coming from, there are little bays to explore everywhere. A 4WD is a must here to get the most out of the area.
You can walk across to Table Island at low tide, and most of the beaches are accessible by 4WD. Wharton and little Wharton are both easily and quickly accessible, and are magic. If you head out to the southern coast there are lots of small bays that are protected and absolutely stunning.
Heading back out and east along Merivale Road, turn right at an offset intersection with Tagan Road to the left. This takes you back down the coast to Thomas River, a fantastic place to spend a few days.
There are two camp sites; one behind the river and close to the beach, and a newer Department of Parks and Wildlife one perched higher up the hill. You can take your 4WD down to Big Tagon beach, which is stunning and well protected if the wind is blowing from the right direction, or onto Thomas River beach itself. This beach is 29km long, and guarantees your own slice of beach for the day.
Watch the tides here though, as at high tide you won’t be able to drive the whole length. The beach can be soft here, and heading east all the way you end up at some smaller, protected bays. There’s also Mount Arid to walk up if you are feeling energetic!
From here on east, you start to get to the more remote parts of Israelite Bay. Point Malcolm is accessible either by Fisheries road and heading south from Israelite Bay or by the Telegraph track, which starts from Merivale road, 22.6km east of the turn off to Thomas River.
The telegraph track is narrow and corrugated, but winds its way along the coastline all the way out to Point Malcolm. Camping and fishing is popular at Point Malcolm, with a huge range of rocks and beaches to explore.
North East of Point Malcolm is Israelite Bay, an area jam packed with history. You can access this directly east of Esperance via Fisheries road, but the track conditions vary wildly especially after some rain. Expect mud, soft sand, nasty corrugations and several salt lakes (stick as far off them as possible!).
Israelite Bay is where the locals head to fish, and is a fantastic little spot. Camping is free, room is plentiful and access is harder, which puts a lot of people off. However, for one reason or another it’s not got the picturesque beaches that the rest of Esperance does.
If you are keen, you can continue heading north east to the Bilbunya dunes, and even out to Eucla.
Planning a trip east of Esperance
There are plenty of great places to explore in between the ones above, but in essence wherever you go the beaches are beautiful, the water is clear and the camping is fantastic.
Ensure you lower your tyre pressures to suit the terrain, drive to the conditions and take plenty of fuel. The trip from Esperance to Israelite Bay is only 190km, but can easily take 3 – 4 hours if the conditions are bad. You can get fuel from Condingup Tavern and Duke of Orleans, or you need to make the trek back into Esperance.
In the past, we have headed out to Israelite Bay first, and then worked our way back into Esperance over a few weeks.
The coastline east of Esperance is well and truly worth a visit, and if you have a 4WD then your choices and options are limitless; you can safely, easily and comfortably see some of the best beaches in the world.
Which 4WD destinations would you share with someone new to your area? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.