Monthly Archives: December 2022

Day 192 – Friday, 2 December 2022

Each day without internet and phone coverage at the caravan park has become more frustrating. To the point that we have now decided to leave a day earlier than scheduled and head across the Nullarbor Plain.

We spent two and a half hours sitting in the car in town near a hiot spot so that we could download, read and reply to emails, call mum for a chat, and to ring parks ahead of us to make bookings.

Two of the Roadhouses and one caravan park ahead of us are First in, Best dressed places so we will need to make early starts to hopefully have power connections, although water is not available until we get to Penong (possibly) or Burra, which will be the last caravan park (again hopefully) before we reach Mildura.

The water here at the caravan park in Esperance is just horrible. It is the hardest water we have accessed for the entire journey, and Ravensthorpe has the softest water. We discovered today that the reason for the horrible water is it comes from an unfiltered bore, which explains a great deal.

After attending to business in the car we went out to the Kepwari Trails which have been created around the lakes in the Lake Warden Wetlands System and there are canoe and walking trails.

The Hooded Plover is the chosen emblem for the wetland system. The wetlands here provide protection to 6% of the Hooded Plover’s total world population. It is a waterbird species restricted to Southern Australia. The international significance of the wetlands for waterbirds attracts visitors from all over the world.

The walking trail cover 3.6 kilometres in length and winds through fringing sedgelands, heathlands, under banksia canopies and over sand dunes. We walked 2.3 kilometres on the trail today. There are three bird hides along the way and the track and boardwalk are accessible by wheelchair.

We returned to the caravan after all that for afternoon tea, download photos etc, and then we went out to get fish and chips for tea. They were very nice fish and chips.

Day 191 – Thursday, 1 December 2022

Happy Birthday, Lucus. We hope you have a wonderful day.

The first day of December and I have begun to wear my Christmas earrings.

Today the expected hot weather happened. We recorded 40 degrees in the car at one stage. We decided it would be best to do the Great Ocean Drive (in the air-conditioned car), and unlike that other Scenic Ocean Drive that wasn’t scenic at all, today’s drive was wonderful what with the sun shining and the blue water sparkling.

Before we headed out of the park I did the washing and hung it on the line to dry. I was serenaded by a juvenile grey Butcherbird who sat in the tree between the van and the clothesline. He allowed me to take his photo and just continued to trill.

We then headed into town to put our scripts into the chemist for pickup tomorrow. I explained the Keely, the young lady in the chemist, that I had only jest recently had my scripts filled but that we would be leaving on Tuesday to cross the Nullabor and I would like to have supplies with me for the just in case scenario. She said she would explain to the pharmacist, and we will have to wait and see what I get in the morning.

We then headed down to our preferred spot on the Esplanade to download emails etc, and then we headed out to complete the Drive. We took photos of some awesome wave action along the way.

We also stopped off at Observatory Point and climbed the many stairs to reach the top for a magnificent view of the archipelago around Esperance. At the top of the viewing platform there was a plaque to commemorate the arrival on 9 December 1792 of two French ships. The Recherche was under the command of Antoine D’entrecasteaux and the Esperance was under Captain Huon de Kermadec. They took shelter in the lee of Observatory Island immediately offshore from the Point.

As we completed our Drive at the Pink Lakes Lookout, which is no longer pink but that comes later, and it was still relatively early in the afternoon, we turned to the South Coast Highway and went east to visit Esperance’s Stonehenge – thoroughly amazing.

Pink Lake was initially named Lake Spencer by John Septimus Roe in 1848. It was named after Sir Richard Spencer who was the Resident Magistrate in Albany and who contributed to the early formation of the colony in WA. Lake Warden is adjacent to the Pink Lake and it is

recorded as having been named after Sir Richard’s wife, Lady Ann Warden Spencer.

It was always called Pink Lake by the locals, and in 1966 the Shire President (Cr WS Paterson) requested the name change which was granted.

For many years Pink Lake has been a tourist attraction with an arterial road and some local businesses adopting the name.

However, Esperance’s Pink Lake has lost its pink due to a number of contributing factors. Historically, it was the terminal lake in the Lake Warden Wetland System where water from the central suite of lakes (Wheatfield, Woody and Windabout) along with Lake Warden would periodically flush into Pink Lake, bringing accumulated salts into the environment.

It was the increasing salt concentrate combined with decreasing water levels from evaporation in summer that triggered the appearance of the famous bubblegum pink that can be seen in other lakes across the country.

However, with the construction of the railway line and the South Coast Highway, Pink Lake’s connection to the Lake Warden Wetland System has been lost.

Commercial salt mining began in 1896 and ceased in 2007 due to the reduced salt levels in the lake. With further reductions to the Lake’s salt concentration caused by freshwater from surface water inflow and increased groundwater inflow from new subdivisions, the lake has lost its colour.

If conditions change in the future it is possible that we may see salt concentrations increase and the pink hue return for future visitors.

Pink Lake is just one in a chain of wetlands that circle Esperance, whose population is 14,500 people. The Lake Warden Wetland System is recognised internationally for their importance as a habitat that regularly supports 20,000 waterbirds, including several threatened species.

Visitors to the Pink Lake are asked to take special care when visiting because of the birds.

Shorebirds breed during August to February. The nest is a shallow scrape, and the eggs are laid directly on the sand, either on the beach or above the high tide marks or in the dunes.

Adult birds are easily disturbed and will leave the nest until people are out of sight. Unattended, the camouflaged eggs are easily stepped on, eaten by a predator or become cold or overheated. The tiny chicks cannot fly. They will either crouch in the sand or run and hide in the dunes. If they spend too long hiding they will starve to death.

Red-capped Plover, Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher and Hooded Plover all inhabit, breed and feed on the sandy beach of Pink Lake.

Esperance’s Stonehenge is a full-size replica of the original ‘Stonehenge’ in the UK as it would have looked around 1950BC. It is constructed of 137 stones of Esperance Pink Granite quarried adjacent to the property where it now stands proudly.

Ten Trilithon Stones stand in a horseshoe pattern, each weighing between 38 – 50 tonnes, and each pair has an 18-tonne lintel across the top, altogether reaching a height of eight metres.

Inside the Trilithon Horseshoe stands another horseshoe of 19 Blue Stones.

The Trilithon Stones are surrounded by a circle of 30 Sarsen Stones, each weighing 28 tonnes, and with a 7 tonne across each pair they stand almost five metres tall.

Positioned between Sarsen Circle and the Trilithon Stones are forty smaller stones referred to as the Bluestone Circle.

The Altar Stone, which lies on the ground in front of the tallest Trilithon Stones, weighs 9 tonnes.

The structure is aligned with the Summer and Winter Solstices as per Esperance’s solar calendar. The Heel Stones are positioned on this line to allow the sun rays to pass through to the Altar at sunrise on the longest day of the year (Summer Solstice), and in winter the sun sets through the Grand Trilithon on the shortest day of the year (Winter Solstice). The same line occurs on both events.

The Australasian Granite Company of Esperance was originally commissioned in 2009 by a client in Margaret River to quarry the stones to the provided dimensions. However, after 12 months the project was in trouble when the Margaret River company went into liquidation.

With six weeks quarrying still to be carried out to complete the stonework order local Esperance residents, Kim and Jillian Beale, purchased the stones. They lived across the road from the quarry carrying out the work in Merivale Road.

It was not bought as a commercial enterprise, rather that Kim fancied the idea of a replica Stonehenge in the Southern Hemisphere.

Earthworks and footing preparations to receive the large stones began in January 2011. 120 cubic metres of concrete was used in the footings, along with mesh and rio bar. The footings are huge.

The forty large stones have a wire cut base and stand on top of the footings which are 200mm below ground level. All the stones are free-standing, held in place by weight of stone and lintel.

In February 2011 a 140-tonne crane, 2 x 988B loaders and 2 floats began the transportation of the stones onto the site, and their erection thereafter.

Building Stonehenge continued with the placement of the Blue Stones horseshoe, Blue Stone circle and the Altar Stone. The 30 stones on the outer circle were stood up and placed in two days along with the roll-out lawn at the same time.

Construction then stopped for 11 weeks during winter due to very boggy conditions. At 3:15pm on 26 October 2011 the last stone of the 30 lintels on the Sarsen Circle were positioned with a 20-tonne crane.

The alignment of the structure to the Summer and Winter Solstice was done by Kim along with the measuring and positioning of the stones. The floor plan and stone sizes were put together by Sorensen Architecture in Margaret River.

Kim and Jillian said the building of the Esperance’s Stonehenge was a rewarding experience and described it as ‘a walk back through history,

until everything ancient is new again while still leaving much to the imagination and the unexplainable….’

Day 190 – Wednesday, 30 November 2022

We woke up just before 9:00am and decided we should go into Esperance for internet access (and take our computers with us to update emails etc), and also to go to the Visitor Information Centre.

Neither Russ nor I are very impressed with Esperance. It looks like a nice town, but it is so spread out and you have to go round about ways to get anywhere. Along with the internet issue it is a frustrating and bad joke, and the dump point is in town.

Before we left the van Russ was unable to get any reception to receive the call from mum, so once we made it down to the Esplanade he rang her back and had a chat.

I picked up several pamphlets from the Information Centre which is on the Esplanade itself and part of the Historical Village where the original houses were built such as Matron’s Quarters, Doctor’s Residence etc, and they are now converted into the tourist shops.

We then moved further down the Esplanade to where we had a view of the harbour, and we had our lunch there. After that I headed out across the grass area and was able to take some photos of the young people using the impressive skateboard facilities. I will say here that there are a lot of places dedicated to families.

The defining feature of the Esplanade Foreshore is the reconstructed Esperance Jetty which was officially opened on 28 March 2021. It measures 415 metres in length and reflects the classic curvature of its predecessor while incorporating a series of interpretative features, as well as fishing and diving platforms.

The species of fish most commonly found in this area includes herring, skippy (never heard of it), whiting and flathead along with squid which is attracted to the overhead lighting in the evenings.

The dive platforms allow the divers to launch themselves from the jetty on the way to a spectacular view of the artificial reef some 50-100 metres away from the jetty. As there is a vast array of seaweed species along the reef it is a perfect hiding place for the Leafy Sea Dragon and a host of other marine life.

The weather was supposed to be a warm and sunny 27 degrees, but it was overcast with frequent showers of rain so when we had completed everything we needed to do we headed back to the caravan instead of touring.

I made a casserole in the slow cooker for later in the week while we were in the van. Tomorrow is supposed to be high 30s, but we will wait and see what eventuates.