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.

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. woodyislan­

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 goldfields­airservice­

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.

 ?? Picture: Kelsey Reid ?? Woody Island camping is popular over the warmer months.
Picture: Kelsey Reid Woody Island camping is popular over the warmer months.

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