Cape Le Grand National Park
Wild coastal scenery, rugged granite peaks, and sweeping heathlands characterise Cape Le Grand National Park. Popular features in the park include attractive bays with wide sandy beaches set between rocky headlands.
Inland, the park protects an undulating heath-covered sandplain, interspersed with swamps and freshwater pools. In the south-west corner of the park, massive rock outcrops of granite and gneiss form an impressive chain of peaks including Mt Le Grand (345 m), Frenchman Peak (262 m) and Mississippi Hill (180 m).
The peaks of the park's south-west corner are the result of erosion and movements in the Earth's crust over the past 600 million years. During the Eocene period, some 40 million years ago, sea levels were at least 300 metres above their present level and these peaks would have been largely submerged. The caves and tunnels found in the peaks are thought to have been either formed or enlarged by wave action and underwater currents.
The sandplains that cover much of the park support a great variety of plant and animal life. In areas of deep sand, dense thickets of Banksia speciosa thrive, growing to three or four metres tall. On gravel outcrops and in areas where the soil is shallow, another banksia, Banksia pulchella, may be found.
Many species of small native mammals rely on the plant communities of the park for food and shelter. When in flower, the banksias are a source of nectar and insects for the tiny honey-possum, while after dark, the quenda, or southern brown bandicoot, forages in the understorey for grubs and worms.
The park is named after Le Grand, an officer of the L'Esperance, one of the ships in a French expedition commanded by Admiral D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. Matthew Flinders visited and named Lucky Bay in 1802, when taking shelter from a summer storm. Rossiter Bay was named by John Eyre when his party, suffering from the rigours of crossing the Nullarbor, was relieved to find the ship Mississippi, captained by Rossiter, anchored in the bay in June 1841. Mississippi Hill at Lucky Bay was named after the ship.
Rehabilitation and restoration projects have been undertaken at most of the coastal sites and on numerous old and now disused roads and tracks within Cape Le Grand National Park. Please assist nature by keeping off the rehabilitation areas.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Where is it?:
30 km south-east of Esperance, 50 km by road. Approach via Fisheries Road, Merivale Road and Cape Le Grand Road. The route is well signposted from Fisheries Road.
30 minutes from Esperance.
What to do:
Walking, camping, boating, picnicking, sightseeing, nature study, swimming, photography, fishing.
Coastal Trail—15 km one way, allow 6-8 hours. This walk may be broken into four shorter sections.
Le Grand Beach-Hellfire Bay—Allow 2-3 hours, hard going.
Hellfire Bay-Thistle Cove—Allow 2 hours, hard going.
Thistle Cove-Lucky Bay—Allow 30 minutes, easy.
Lucky Bay-Rossiter Bay—Allow 2-3 hours, medium.
Frenchman Peak—3 km return, allow 2 hours, hard walk. Please follow footpath from car park to the easy angled east slope - do not attempt to short cut - the rock is deceptively steep, especially on descent. Not recommended in wet or windy weather.
Le Grand Heritage Trail—1 km circuit, allow 40 minutes, easy. Starts from Thistle Cove car park along Coastal Trail to Lucky Bay.
Bird Sanctuary—400 m return, allow 15 minutes, easy stroll from Rossiter Bay car park.
Two camping grounds are situated at Cape Le Grand National Park, one at Lucky Bay, and the other at Le Grand Beach (see map). Facilities include septic toilets and showers. A camping fee is charged. Firewood is scarce in the park and you should bring a portable gas stove.
Boats are best launched at Lucky Bay. Small boats can also be launched from Cape Le Grand Beach. Launching at Rossiter Bay is not recommended. These beaches are notoriously treacherous for vehicles and it is easy to become bogged in the most innocent looking wet or dry sand. Ask the ranger about surface conditions and tides.
BBQs, toilets, tables, campsite, picnic areas, shade shelters, water, information bay, walk trails.
Nearest CALM office:
Esperance District Office, Dempster Street, Esperance. Phone (090) 71 3733
The park has two resident rangers near the main entrance on Cape Le Grand Road, and a mobile ranger is based at Lucky Bay for much of the year.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management