Esperance - along the waterfront
Esperance, located approximately 720 kilometres south-east of Perth, has a population 14000.
Named in 1792, after the ship L'Esperance which anchored there for repairs, its first Europeans visitors were whalers and sealers who lived in rough beachside camps. Boats came to the beach, removing blubber, seal skins and eventually the men. Pastoral interests moved into the area in the 1860's.
With the nearest centers to it of any size, Kalgoorlie(30,800) 390 kilometres inland to the north and Albany (36,200) 480 kilometres westward along the coast, Esperance is a long way from anywhere. Primarily a port, it is also a beachside resort for people from Kalgoorlie and other inland centers.
I come to the resort to breath the salt laden air wafting off the Southern Ocean, dig my toes into the seaweed impregnated sand, whilst meandering along the Norfork Island Pine lined foreshore.
Artificial attractions complement natural attractions. Along the direction I am moving the first is a jetty, a jetty that invites the obligatory walk to its end. A walk which will place you more than 300 meters from the shore where the water depth is greater than 10 meters.>
A jetty was built in 1895 to berth boats bringing prospectors heading for the newly discovered gold fields at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
From 1910 onwards regional grain production created demand for a new jetty. It, the Tanker Jetty, was completed in 1934. Used to export salt, copper concentrates, wheat and import fuel oil, it fell into disrepair when, in 1975 another new jetty was built. I of course take the obligatory stroll to the end of the restored jetty.
Salmon Beach Wind Farm
Farther along is an exhibit of a wind farm turbine. It is one of two from the Salmon Beach wind farm, the first wind farm in Australia.Isolated, not connected to the grid and located at the northern edge of the roaring forties, makes Esperance ideal for wind farm experimentation. A small experimental farm was established at Salmon Beach. Consisting of six turbines, each capable of producing 60 kilowatts, it supplemented diesel power for fifteen years, from 1987. It was decommissioned in 2002 because of urban encroachment and the availability of more cost efficient turbines.
A new wind farm, Ten Mile Lagoon, was established on a ridge 16 kilometers west of Esperance. With nine 225 kilowatt turbines, it is Australia's oldest operating wind farm.
Skylab and the Museum
Near the wind farm turbine is the Esperance Museum. Generally open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm daily is can close early during quiet periods.
Arguably, the museum's most famous exhibit is the debris from Skylab which crashed into the area on July 12th, 1979. NASA was fined $200 for littering. The fine was payed in full!
However the main theme of the museum is local history. A very prominent exhibit is the stream train, with carriages, that run from Esperance to Kalgoorlie from 1951 - 1969. It used 6 tonnes of coal and 8000 gallons of water for each trip. Other exhibits include vintage displays, of buggy's, furniture, clothes and household items, dating from the 1860s. Some are displayed in period rooms, others in glass cases and floor displays. Some exhibits are not particularly old, for example a Machitosh computer.
the Whale Tail
Across the road, back on the fore shore is an open sculpture of a Southern Right Whale's fin. Steel used in the open section resents the local port and the old Tanker jetty.
The mid section, fabricated from jarrah, is shaped like a boat hull and the filter (baleen) inside the whale's mouth. Jarrah, a hardwood Eucalypt, was used for boat building.
Esperance is a deep water port capable of accommodating ships up to 180,000 tonnes.
When I first sighted the clock tower I thought is was historical and had been restored. Actually it was started in 2002 and has not been completed. A four face clock, the last built in aus, the clock hands are gold plated.
When completed the clock tower will also have four bronze casting. The castings made locally from bronze weigh 250kgs. Each casting consist of eight main sections and several minor sections.
Esperance is quiet, peaceful and prosperous center a long way from anywhere. In this trouble filled world sometimes a long way from anywhere is a good place to be!