The current edition of On The Road magazine has my story on visiting Cape Le Grand National Park in Western Australia but here are a few behind the story stories of things you may not expect.
Cape Le Grand National Park and in particular Lucky Bay, were high on the list of places I’ve always wanted to visit in Western Australia. The main reason was to see the beach that I’d noticed being consistently voted as having the whitest sand of all Australia’s beaches and that combined with crystal clear turquoise water AND kangaroos on the beach – You had me!
What I wasn’t expecting but you might just want to add to your trip notes were:
1. Prepare to get there early: on the day you plan to visit, unless it’s a just for a day trip, get there as early as possible and line up at the entry station to be one of the early birds to get your preferred campsite. Mind you there are dozens of sites to choose from at Lucky Bay over two levels, but we had a particular area in mind that we thought would suit our van and what we wanted to see and do, so we were very keen to stake our claim there. We had done a day trip to Cape Le Grand a few days earlier and scouted around in the camping area for great sites and a good thing we did too because the weather was absolutely perfect on the day we went and in fact turned out to be the brightest of our whole stay.
You can’t book sites in advance, it’s a first in best dressed deal, so if you have a particular idea about where you want to camp – get there early so you won’t be disappointed then wait if you have to, to nab your site of choice.
- Share your day with kangaroos: I was hoping / expecting to see kangaroos on the beach but I had no idea we would see them lying around our campsite, sitting with us under the awning (sheltering from a rain shower), or be watching a joey feed from its mother’s pouch. They were everywhere throughout the camp ground and it just became natural to be walking along and then be joined by a roo hopping past. No wonder visitors from overseas are thrilled about this place!
- The lizards are BIG in these parts: Yes this is Australia so I am always thinking in the back of my mind that something not so pretty could at any time come crawling or slithering out of scrub, especially during the summer months but this guy surprised me. Sunning himself by a public BBQ area was a giant monitor lizard, nice, friendly, nothing to worry about BUT….I wasn’t expecting him to move so fast and I had to scramble to get out of his way. No humans or lizards were harmed in the process though.
- Learn some aboriginal dreaming stories: I’m glad to see more of this signage about the place now to give the aboriginal perspective on this ancient land. At Thistle Cove you’ll find part of the Walich Dreaming Story which tells the story of mother walich (eagle) who made a nest and laid her eggs. A group of aboriginal people were camped near and the parents told the children to stay in the camp with elders while they went hunting for food. Two children didn’t do as their parents asked and went off walkabout. They came across the nest and stole the eggs. When the mother walich noticed her eggs missing she went after the children, caught them and carried them out to sea. The two rocks offshore are the two children. The granite peak of Frenchman’s Peak is the mother walich watching the sea in case those children try to come back. And the water that seeps from the peak are the tears of the parents crying for their children. The story encourages children to always obey their parents and elders. (This is the story as told by the Nyoongar Aboriginal people.)
- Café with the best view (and regulars) in the world: How unique! Order your coffee (or other beverage) from the mobile coffee van, on the sand at Lucky Bay and enjoy the view. (Have I mentioned the sand, the water, the roos?) You’ve got to try the ‘Kangacino’, why wouldn’t you? But don’t be worried, the secret ingredient that you find at the bottom of your cup isn’t Roo Poo, but Maltesers chocolate balls just for a bit of fun!While you’re at it indulge in the damper scones slathered with quondong jam. A what with what I hear you ask? Traditional damper is a homemade bread usually made outdoors in an open fire when camping and quandong is a native Australian wild peach which has a slightly tart flavour and contains twice the vitamin C of an orange. Very, very tasty.
I suppose there is one other thing to expect when you visit Cape Le Grand National Park and that is: You will feel compelled to return, how ever many days you plan to be here, it won’t be enough. This is one place that is definitely on my return to list.