25 Apr 2006 - Cape Le Grand NP - Anzac Day

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

25th April, 2006
Anzac Day
Esperance W.A.

“Though born from the doomed campaign at Gallipoli, the spirit of ANZAC is not really about loss at all. It is about courage and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour and a sense of self worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.”

Australian War memorial, Canberra.
“Spirit of ANZAC”.

And so today began with the dawn remembrance service at the cenotaph in Esperance. There was a crowd of more than a thousand and about 30 diggers represented. The naval cadets performed the reverse arms and the army cadets bolstered the numbers of the marchers. It was good to see such a crowd. Afterwards the Rotary club provided a breakfast for a gold coin. Toad in the hole, bacon, sausage and a cup of tea. Very nice thankyou.

The sunrise over the bay was spectacular prompting a photo stop at the pier. A nice cup of coffee too. Took an extra mocha back to the park with me for sleepy head. Spent an hour or so on the computer with this diary etc until it was a more reasonable hour and Amanda Rose. We packed and left just on 9 bells and headed into town. We presumed that at least one of the major supermarkets in town would be open at some stage, however, it just goes to

Anzac Day sunrise over the pier at Esperance

show you how wrong you can be. Couldn’t buy a cooked chook for love nor money. On our way out of town though, we stumbled a cross a little Iga that was open and doping a roaring trade. We picked up a few luncheon supplies and the n hit the road for the Cape Le Grand National Park. Good sealed road all the way into the park. A quick chat with the gate attendant and we were off to the Cape Le Grand Bay campsite. It’s very similar to Wilson’s Prom on the drive in. If the shrubbery were a little lower and more gorse-like, it could have reminded you of the hills about Ben Nevis in Scotland. Worn rounded granite peaks etc.

The campground was excellently appointed with a toilet block (solar showers) and an unlit camp kitchen which provided a gas hotplates, BBQ plate and hot water. The camp site is set into 10 individual bays. We chose a bay half way between the kitchen and the amenities block. Behind us it is a 50 metre walk to the beach and a great view west across the bay to distant Esperance.

Took a drive after setting up out to Lucky Bay passing Frenchman’s Peak on the way. Visited the Mathew Flinders memorial overlooking the bay. Apparently he sheltered in the bay in January 1802. It is a beautiful bay with magnificent beach and surrounding dunes. From there it was a short walk along the track to Thistle bay before returning and driving around to Thistle Bay and Whistle Rock (it does actually whistle in the wind!). I decided that a pre lunch assault on Frenchman’s Peak was warranted as the weather appeared to be fading with clouds moving in. Thus it was that we loaded the backpack with essentials and commenced the death march. At times the slope was very steep forcing a few water stops. Met the Swissies when we were two thirds of the way up (they were coming down) so we told them where we were camped.

Just below the summit, time, wind and water have blown a big cave through the entire mountaintop. Apparently the startings of this cave originated some 40 million years ago when sea levels were 250 metres higher. It is quite impressive though opening hugely out to the south and the ocean. From here it is only a short hop to the summit. On reaching it, the wind was very blustery causing a little concern if you were trying to step from boulder to boulder. Despite the gloomy skies, it was a good vista all round and we enjoyed it for 20 minutes before started the descent.

On reaching the car park we headed back to camp. We’d only been there five minutes when Toby and Bea arrived so leaving the girls to prepare lunch, I talked Toby into giving his boogie board a try over the dunes at the beach. The water was a tad chilly at the start but perfect for cooling down the muscles after the stiff climb. Too much chop and not enough swell for the boogie board so we headed back to camp for lunch. It was latish in the arvo anyway so I took a little stroll up the nearby hill for a photo opportunity and then out over the rocks along the headland. The water and beaches here are spectacular, even better than Queensland with the water so clear. A lot like the islands in the Maldives.

Dinner was steak and vegies with fruit and custard for Bea who was saying that she had tried custard and had enjoyed it very much. After that we gathered and swapped family pictures over the computer before calling it a night.

At about 1.30 a.m. the heavens opened.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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