The 23rd day of the Around Australia Ride. After the previous day’s road having so much interest and fantastic scenery the road to Esperance was quite a contrast in its dullness. This suited me fine as I was keen to get to Esperance and spend some time exploring there. The Noongar people were the first known inhabitants of the area from around 20,000 years ago. The coastline for Esperance was first sighted around the late 1620s by Dutch explorers, and was first settled by Europeans in the 1860s. The history I was interested was much more recent as I was born in Western Australia and as a very young child we used to spend holidays at Esperance. So the 485kms were done and dusted in no time flat and it would have been around 12:30pm when I rolled into town – the first time in about 30 years.
What struck me first was how white the beaches were, and how blue the ocean was. I had timed my arrival perfectly with the sun high in a cloudless sky. This made for crystal clear water the likes I haven’t seen since we left Broome. Riding through town I wasn’t picking up any childhood memories, but that was OK as there were only a couple of places that I knew would come back to me. After dropping my gear at the motel I was off exploring.
There’s not a lot to the town of Esperance itself and it didn’t take too long until I found a scenic road that wound along the craggy coastline. Talk about picturesque! Everywhere I pointed the camera there were beautiful beaches, interesting outcrops, light and dark patches of blue in the water and a slow winding road to take me past it all. It was just gorgeous and the sea air was so fresh and reinvigorating. Finally I rounded yet another breathtaking corner and there it was.
Twilight Cove, the location of possibly my most earliest and vivid childhood memories. This rock is something that I always remember from our trips to Esperance. Playing in the water with the rock just offshore I had always wanted to swim out to it, but at that age it just seemed so far away. And there I was, standing on that same beach now as an adult. Like most childhood memories size and scale change dramatically. The rock is less than 100 metres from shore and there is even a small sandbar I could probably wade out to it on.
But I didn’t. Sure I could have been out to that rock within a few minutes, but that is the other thing with childhood memories, the challenges don’t seem that great once accomplished. Sometimes even an anti-climax, especially after all those years. No, I was content to sit for half an hour and just watch the rock and the ocean and take it all in. That particular mountain didn’t need conquering, that particular memory doesn’t need diluting.
After Twilight Cove I continued round, stopping at various lookouts, taking lots of photos. Soon a wind farm’s windmills poked over the hills and I made my way to them. The windmills were turning at a decent clip as there was a stiff breeze on this day. I’d had a good time with my slow ride along the coast and now I was keen to get back to town and take a walk out on the old jetty.
Along with Twilight Cove, in my vault of other earliest memories is of fishing from this jetty. It’s long been out of service and has fallen into quite the state of disrepair. A sign at the start of the jetty says the town is trying to restore it and make sure they don’t have to demolish any more of the jetty that is beyond saving. As I walked out along its half a kilometre length I remembered how we fished a lot, never caught much, and what we did catch we didn’t really eat – the fish went to our cat at the time. Those three things really stood out for me and I was twitching for a handline just to re-live the experience. Unlike swimming miles out to a rock, fishing is something that can always be done over and over.
After the jetty I walked back to the motel feeling content with my exploring. It would have been really nice to stay in Esperance for a day, go for a swim, wet a line, linger over lunch in a local cafe. As always though time was against us and we were out of town the next morning on the next day of our adventure.