Unless you’ve been living under a rock I can guarantee you’ve seen a picture of Lucky Bay at least once in your life. Its Tourism Australia’s dream destination: stunning white beaches, crystal clear blue water, and best of all? A resident population of extremely chilled out kangaroos that obligingly like to pose with tourists on the beach.
What more could you want? Well, believe it or not, there’s a lot more to Cape Le Grand National Park than kangaroos at Lucky Bay. So once you’ve checked out the main attraction, and taken your obligatory photo, make sure you check out some of the rest of the national park. I promise you won’t regret it.
Cape Le Grand National Park can be found about an hours drive east of Esperance, Western Australia – directly underneath the western end of the Nullarbor Plain.
It’s 2wd accessible for the most part, but if you’ve got a 4×4 there is the opportunity for a bit of beach driving. In fact you can drive along the beach most of the way between Cape Le Grand campsite and the eastern suburbs of Esperance. Just don’t expect it to be a shortcut – it’s generally quicker to take the main road, and you’ll need to keep an eye on the tides, plus be prepared for some soft sand if you take the beach route. But hey, that’s part of the adventure!
Once you get there, you’ll be wanting to head down to Lucky Bay and find yourself a roo so you can upload a sweet picture to Instagram. We get that. But make sure you check out the rest of the park too because it’s simply stunning. To make sure you don’t miss anything we’ll run you through a few of the options.
You can’t miss this cool volcano-looking mountain on your way into the park. In a landscape that’s predominantly flat, Frenchman’s Peak stands out, even if it only has an elevation of 262m. And the giant cave through the top, easily visible from the ground makes it even more unique.
You’d be crazy to come out here and not make the trek to the top; the views are simply stunning and well worth the almost vertical climb. And don’t let people tell you not to attempt it with kids – our 4yo made it up there no worries and loved exploring the amazing caves at the top.
Hellfire Bay & Thistle Cove
Hellfire Bay is arguably more magical than Lucky Bay (albeit without the famous kangaroos) and is well worth a visit. Thistle Cove isn’t exactly unattractive either. Seriously, the beaches here are fantastic. Hellfire also has BBQs, tables and a pergola to sit under while you look out at the view.
Le Grand Coastal Trail
This gorgeous hike goes from Cape Le Grand Beach to Rossiter Bay on the other side of the park, passing through Hellfire Bay, Thistle Cove and Lucky Bay.
You can do the entire 15kms (one way), or just pick a section. We chose the section from Cape Le Grand to Hellfire, and while it wasn’t real easy (particularly as we did it in the rain) it was absolutely beautiful – the views coming into Hellfire Bay are amazing and well worth the hike.
Just be aware that there are a lot of bees in the park, particularly along the hikes, so if you have severe bee allergies you may want to consider giving the hikes a miss.
Lucky Bay Beach
This is the big one, the one everyone comes to see. Reportedly the whitest beach in Australia, and with sunbathing kangaroos thrown in, does it get more Aussie than this?
Yes, Lucky Bay is visually stunning. But it’s also a great place to drive along the beach, enjoy a coffee from the Lucky Bean Coffee Van, swim, put the boat it, and just generally enjoy a bit of beach time. Just don’t be a dick and feed the kangaroos, yeah? Particularly not Cheezels and white bread like most people seem to do.
Cape Le Grand Beach
Lucky Bay’s lesser-known neighbour this beach is a little more ordinary, but a great spot to swim, fish, and 4wd. Plus it’s one of the only places in the park you can catch a sunset over the water. And the campsite here is our personal favourite if you wanna spend the night.
Spending the night
Camping is your only option if you want to spend the night in Cape Le Grand National Park, and you have three options – Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand, and Dunn Rock. Both Lucky Bay & Cape Le Grand are super popular and don’t take bookings. So in peak times, you’ll need to rock up early (and by early I mean like 8am) to get in line for a site. There’s something like 40 campsites at Lucky Bay, many of which overlook the ocean. But it’s quite exposed with little shade and can get very windy.
Cape Le Grand, on the other hand, is much smaller, much more sheltered, and you’ll share it with a lot fewer people, meaning you’re more likely to score a shower while the solar heated water is still hot.
Most people choose Lucky Bay for its famous roos (that will visit your campsite and steal any food that is not securely locked away), but if you can get over the novelty of the kangaroos, then Cape Le Grand is our preference for camping.
Both Lucky Bay & Cape Le Grand have toilets, water, solar heated showers, bins, and BBQs, and will set you back $11 per adult, per night. But, if you’d prefer to go the free option, you can camp out at Dunn Rock – it’s a little more isolated, a much longer drive (you need to drive out of the national park and back in if you want to visit all the other attractions) and has zero facilities, but won’t cost you a cent.
Cape Le Grand is the kind of place you go for a night or two, and end up still there two weeks later. It’s understandably popular, but sometimes the crowds actually get it right, and this place is definitely worth a visit.
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