Esperance, Western Australia

Esperance, Western Australia

Infobox Australian Place | type = town
name = Esperance
state = wa
lga = Shire of Esperance

mayor = Ian Mickel
est = 1896
postcode = 6450
pop = 9536
maxtemp = 21.2
mintemp = 11.4
rainfall = 676.2
fedgov = Kalgoorlie
stategov = Eyre

Esperance is a town in Western Australia, located on the south coast around half-way between Albany and the South Australian border. Its population is almost 15,000 people, and its major industries are tourism, agriculture, and fishing.


Approximately 7.0 hours' drive or a 1.5 hour flight from Perth, the state capital, Esperance is a popular destination for medium term trips for families based there. It is also around 4 hours' drive south from the Goldfields mining town of Kalgoorlie, and offers a convenient get-away for weekends for the mine workers.

Near the town itself are many attractive beaches, offering surfing, scuba diving, and swimming. It is the closest town to the famous Cyclops wave, portrayed as the most dangerous wave in Australia. Also nearby are a number of salt lakes, including the Pink Lake, which gains its rosey hue from red algae living within its waters.

There are five major national parks near the town. A major nearby tourist attraction, 56 km from the town center, is the Cape Le Grand National Park, which offers a picturesque coast of largely granite terrain and sheltered white sand beaches. The park is a popular spot for recreational fishing, as well as four wheel drive enthusiasts and hikers.

Esperance also has a number of wind turbines supplying electricity to the town. [cite web | url= | title=Wind Power in Western Australia Interview from ABC's Science Show | accessdate=2008-10-05 | publisher = ABC's Science Show | date=2005-07-30]


Esperance has a Mediterranean-type climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. It is subject to wide variations in the weather, from hot summer days when northerly winds arrive from the interior of the state, to cold, wet winter days with southerly winds from the Great Southern Ocean.


European history dates back to 1627 when the Dutch vessel "Gulden Zeepaert", skippered by François Thijssen, passed through the blue waters off the Esperance coast.

French explorers are credited with making the first landfall near the present day town, naming it and other local landmarks whilst sheltering from a storm in this area in 1792. The town itself was named after the French ship, the "L'Espérance", [cite web|url=|title=Espace to Esperance Article in Australian Traveller Magazine| accessdate=2008-04-29] commanded by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux. Esperance, roughly translated, is French for 'hope'.

In 1802, British navigator Matthew Flinders sailed the Bay of Isles, discovering and naming places such as Lucky Bay and Thistle Cove. Whalers, sealers and pirates followed, as did pastoralists and miners, keen to exploit the free land and cash in on the gold boom in the gold fields to the north.

The area of the Esperance townsite was first settled by the Dempsters, a pioneer family of Scottish descent, in the 1870s. [ [ Dempster, Andrew (1843 - 1909) Biographical Entry - Australian Dictionary of Biography Online ] ] A telegraph station was opened in 1876, although the formal gazettal of the townsite did not occur until 1893.

In 1979, pieces of the space station Skylab crashed onto Esperance after the craft broke up over the Indian Ocean. The municipality fined the United States $400 for littering. The fine was never paid. [cite web|url=| - Australians Take Mir Deorbit Risks in Stride |accessdate=2007-07-26]

In January 2007, Esperance was rocked by two major events.

First, a torrential storm with wind gusts of up to 110km/h brought 155mm of rainfall within 24 hours, causing significant flooding. More than 100 homes were damaged, several boats were destroyed, trees were felled and 35m of bridge on the South Coast Highway, the main road linking Esperance to Perth, was washed away. The Western Australian Government declared the area a "natural disaster zone". Over 37,000 sheep were killed in the storm.cite news
title=Esperance declared a natural disaster zone
publisher=WA Business News
] [cite news |title=Esperance area storm kills 37,000 sheep|url=]

Secondly, commencing just before the storm, thousands of birds (including wattlebirds, yellow-throated miners, New Holland honeyeaters and singing honeyeaters, and some crows, hawks and pigeons) fell dead from the skies.cite news
title=Thousands of birds fall from sky over town
publisher=The Australian
] Subsequent tests on bird samples collected from the Esperance townsite revealed the deaths had been caused by lead poisoning from dust escaping during loading of Magellan Metals product at the Esperance Port Authority.cite news
title=Isotope tests show lead from Magellan
publisher=The Esperance Express
] Tests on the town's population showed elevated lead levels among some residents, leading to a major clean-up operation. A Western Australian state parliamentary inquiry found the mining company Magellan Metals, several government departments and the Esperance Port Authority responsible for the lead pollution in the town. [ [ Esperance lead report scathing of DEC : ] ]

Esperance Port

The only port in the south east of Western Australia, the Esperance Port Authority completed an A$54 million dollar upgrade in 2002. The upgrade made the port one of the deepest in Southern Australia, capable of handling Cape class vessels (up to 180,000 tonnes) and fully loaded Panamax class vessels (up to 75,000 tonnes).

Exports for the year ending June 2005 were 7,394,155 tonnes, including 1.7 million tonnes of grain, and 5.3 million tonnes of iron ore which is railed from Koolyanobbing.

Twin town

*flagicon|France Saint-Martin-de-Ré

ee also

*Esperance Airport
*Archipelago of the Recherche


External links

* [ Shire of Esperance]
* [ Esperance Visitor Centre]
* [ esperance.yourguide]
* [ Esperance Port Authority]
* [ Court case begins over lead contamination]

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