Cape Le Grande National Park
Cape Le Grand National Park is located on the rugged south coast of Western Australia, east of Esperance. The park is host to plains of undulating heathlands speckled with wildflowers and groves of Banksia trees in springtime. The inner heathlands are delightfully interspersed with swamps and freshwater pools. Colossal gneiss and granite peaks tower over the region, revealing breathtaking views of the bays of white sand and calm turquoise waters.
The National Park was named in 1792 after Le Grand, an officer of the L’esperance, a French expedition ship commanded under Admiral D'entrecasteaux.
Islands of the Recherche Archipelago speckle the horizon, with granite domes peaking just above the water. Crystal clear waters provide the perfect conditions for exploring the abundant marine life in the area, while underwater granite walls, boulders, caves and reefs are also on display. The park’s rich natural landscape offers a variety of recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, snorkelling, kayaking, camping and trekking.
Cape Le Grand Beach
The view from the colossal granite headland that overlooks the beach reveals an open space filled with glistening white sand and clear waters. Nearby rests a towering headland where one can relish the mesmerising sight of the coastal sands and ocean lining the horizon.
During a hazardous summer storm in December 1801, Lieutenant Matthew Flinders sought shelter at Lucky Bay, and hence dubbed it for its propitiousness. Lucky Bay extends for over five kilometres and is home to deep pulpous masses of seaweed that attract the park’s resident kangaroos seeking a scrumptious dinner. Visitors must share the site with crowds of kangaroos, which can be seen hopping around on the beach or lazing about on the sand.
on 10 December 1802, Lieutenant Mathew Flinders’ shipmaster, John Thistle safely commandeered the HMS investigator into the Cove. Flinders named the cove after Thistle who tragically drowned at Cape Catastrophe, South Australia some ten weeks later. The bay lies between two imposing headlands. A mysterious whistling noise rings from a natural monolithic structure at the behest of the calling winds. The cove is scattered with rocky boulders in ragged forms seemingly morphed by the unforgiving wind and water. Situated behind the cove is a picturesque bay, prone to the thrusting of waves and water.
Some believe Hellfire bay was named after St Elmo’s fire, a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that occurs above a ship’s mast, while others believe that it was named after the orange-tinged rocks that encircle the edges of the sandy white beach. Aside from the turquoise sea, white sand and orange rocks, wildflowers and Banksia trees dominate the surrounding shrubbery.
This 15 km scenic hiking trail hugs the coastline from Cape Le Grand Beach across Hellfire Bay, Thistle Cove, Lucky Bay, through to Rossiter Bay. The entire trip takes about 6-8 hours to complete through both flat and undulating surfaces, offering the full spectacle of the rugged southern coast of Western Australia.
Mt Le Grand, Frenchman’s Peak and Mississippi Hill are located in the southwest corner of the park. This majestic chain of peaks was formed from massive rock outcrops of gneiss and granite, shaped by erosion and movements in the Earth’s crust over an incredible 600 million years. Powerful wave action and underwater currents are thought to have carved out the unique caves and tunnels of the peaks.
Mount Le Grand
Mount Le Grand is a 3-hour return trek at 345 metres, offering a stunning view from the peak. The eastern side of the mountain contains a pair of caves sure to delight the adventurous explorer.
The explorer and surveyor Alexander Forrest thought the rock looked quite like a Frenchman’s cap, thus dubbed the formation ‘Frenchman’s Peak’ in 1870. Frenchman’s Peak is a short 2 hour return trip at 262-metres.
Mississippi Hill is a 30-minute return stroll from Lucky bay at a modest 180 metres in height.