South Western Times
Great escapes in Esperance
Looking for the perfect spot to getaway for the second half of the school holidays? Esperance may be your calling and Stephen Scourfield has highlighted the best of the best.
Long journey over
The new jetty in Esperance opened last Sunday, nearly six years after the Esperance Tanker Jetty was closed, and just in time for the school holidays.
There had been heated community discussion over whether the previous 85-year-old jetty should be repaired or replaced, and the new, 415m long, steel and concrete jetty features reclaimed wood from its predecessor. It has a dive platform and fish-cleaning station.
High in the sky
HeliSpirit is flying scenic helicopter flights from the Esperance foreshore until April 30. The pink lake of Middle Island’s Lake Hillier, Recherche Archipelago, Cape Le Grand and Cape Arid national parks are all featured.
Flights start from a 15-minute loop from Esperance foreshore from $195 each. A 30-minute flight over Esperance, Lucky Bay and Cape Le Grand is from $395 a person. helispirit.com.au.
Out on the island
HeliSpirit has partnered with Woody Island Eco Tours to offer scenic helicopter transfers to the island so that guests can join their day tours or self-explore the island. Or guests can take Woody Island Eco Tours’ boat (60 minutes there, 40 minutes back).
There’s a guided walking tour, revealing island history and wildlife. There’s time to snorkel and fish. With the boat trip, guided walk and morning tea it is $110 for adults, $79 for students 13 to 17, and $59 for two to 12. Woody Island Eco Tours has safari huts, luxury retreats, furnished tents and camp sites. woodyisland.com.au.
Awesome air time
Fly Esperance has sightseeing flights in light aircraft, including a 100-minute flight from Esperance airport over Esperance town and port, Frenchman’s Peak and Cape Le Grand National Park, Lucky Bay and out through the Recherche Archipelago to Middle Island and pink Lake Hillier.
It is $425 per adults, $360 per child. 1800 951 251 and goldfieldsairservices.com.
Pretty in pink
Out at Middle Island, pink lake’s colour is considered to be due to the presence of
Dunaliella salina, a micro algae found especially in sea salt fields.
Aus t r a li a ’s only pir ate
On their Woody Island Adventure, guests can find a drink at the fully licensed Blackjack’s Bar.
It is named for Black Jack Anderson, a murderous, cruel, charismatic and passionate pirate who ruled the waters of the Recherche Archipelago in the early 1800s, during the sealing era.
He was actually based on Middle Island, the biggest in the archipelago.
It is believed he came to Australia in 1826 — his damaged boat arrived in King George Sound, off Albany, but he inhabited Middle Island for 10 years.
Black Jack is often said to be Australia’s “only known pirate” and WA archaeologists have surveyed what is believed to have been Anderson’s cave in a bay on the south side of the island.
It faces the open Southern Ocean and boats can only land in Black Jack’s bay in rare perfect conditions.
Anderson, an American, came to Australia to hunt seals and whales in the Southern Ocean.
Seal skins were valuable and worth about six shillings each, but Black Jack still supplemented his income simply by hunting in the waters around the archipelago and raiding passing ships, many heading for Sydney or Hobart.
It was reported that he killed Aboriginal people and kidnapped women.
Transcribed copies of declarations made in Albany courthouse in September 1835 reveal that Middle Island was “in the possession of John Anderson, a master of a sealing boat”.
It is thought he was murdered by his crew and buried somewhere on the island.
F a mous name
Middle Island, the nearest to the mainland, is 9km south of Cape Arid National Park, and 130km east of Esperance. Matthew Flinders and his botanist Robert Brown visited Middle Island in January 1802.
They collected flora and a rough track leads to the top of Flinders Peak.