Sunday, April 3, 2011

Esperance. Stunning one day…beautiful the next…


                                                              

In my earliest memories I recall my mother speaking about the holidays her family, who lived in Kalgoorlie, would take in Esperance. A branch of the Heenan family had settled there at the end of the 19th century and rebuilt the Pier Hotel in 1900. The building was constructed from stone brought from Coolgardie apparently. My mother delighted with stores of elegant and fun filled days in the 1930s when they  took the train, The Flyer, from Kalgoorlie to Esperance, a trip of 13 hours - and only 398 kilometres!

Three years ago I had my first opportunity to visit Esperance. I was travelling with my companion from Switzerland,  a French speaking writer interested in the “colour and characters” of inland Western Australia. We drove from Perth to Kalgoorlie, following the water pipeline and the railway line, through vast stretches of open road, boardered on either side by intensely red soil and smokey coloured dry and squat bushes…no water to be seen for hundreds of kilometres.

As we drove we laughed as the temperature gauge in the car rose consistently, almost at one degree every 10 kilometres. By the time we arrived in “Kal” it was 46 degrees!

A couple of days later we headed south to Esperance. The temperature gauge remained well above the mid 30s and when we finally arrived at the coast of the Southern Ocean it was still over 40 degrees. We settled into our hotel and took a quick walk on the Tanker Jetty to meet with Sammy the Sea Lion and try to breathe some fresh, albeit very hot, air. The next day, true to form, the Esperance temperature peaked at 21 degrees! The locals told us always to be prepared for all weather eventualities: “This is Esperance!”.


                                                          
 Sammy the Sea Lion April 2, 2011

We made a promise to ourselves to return to Esperance and so here we are. We have rented a little cottage, “Paperbark Cottage”, nestled in 5 hectacres which are filled with hundreds of native birds. While the town is spread out around very predictable rectangular grids, it has a mixture of the old, the new, the attractive and the ghastly mistakes of the 60s in its architecture.

The people I have met when “getting my bearings” around the township, in the grocery store, the fishmongers, the newsagent for my daily paper are wonderfully friendly; I am often greeted with “G’day love, how long are you staying?”…

So now to explore the famous and fabulous coastline, and to get used to the weather…again.



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