As you slowly climb away from Lucky Bay the views become expansive and there are dramatic granite outcrops to view, one with a couple of enticing, but nearly impossible to get to, caves.
Here dieback is pronounced and you can see how the grass trees and banksia has suffered. I initially was entranced by the shapes of the dying plants and didn't realise that I may have moved the deadly growth elsewhere by stopping and taking photos of the dying grass trees.
The moral here is, stick to the path.
Fondest memory: Boats are best launched at Lucky Bay. Small boats can also be launched from Cape Le Grand Beach. Launching at Rossiter Bay is not recommended. These beaches are notoriously treacherous for vehicles and it is easy to become bogged in the most innocent looking wet or dry sand. Ask the ranger about surface conditions and tides.
Nearest CALM office:
Esperence District, Dempster Street, Esperance. Phone (090) 71 3733
The park is named after Le Grand, an officer of the L'Esperance, one of the ships in a French expedition commanded by Admiral D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. Matthew Flinders visited and named Lucky Bay in 1802, when taking shelter from a summer storm. Rossiter Bay was named by John Eyre when his party, suffering from the rigours of crossing the Nullarbor, was relieved to find the ship Mississippi, captained by Rossiter, anchored in the bay in June 1841. Mississippi Hill at Lucky Bay was named after the ship.
Rehabilitation and restoration projects (particularly to do with phytophthera) have been undertaken at most of the coastal sites and on numerous old and now disused roads and tracks within Cape Le Grand National Park. Please assist nature by keeping off the rehabilitation areas.
Fondest memory: The trail I took is only one part of a much longer walk but sections were closed due to disease and bushfire damage. Below is the full list of walks when they are all open.
Coastal Trail—15 km one way, allow 6-8 hours. This walk may be broken into four shorter sections.
Le Grand Beach-Hellfire Bay—Allow 2-3 hours, hard going.
Hellfire Bay-Thistle Cove—Allow 2 hours, hard going.
Thistle Cove-Lucky Bay—Allow 30 minutes, easy.
Lucky Bay-Rossiter Bay—Allow 2-3 hours, medium.
Frenchman Peak—3 km return, allow 2 hours, hard walk. Please follow footpath from car park to the easy angled east slope - do not attempt to short cut - the rock is deceptively steep, especially on descent. Not recommended in wet or windy weather.
Le Grand Heritage Trail—1 km circuit, allow 40 minutes, easy. Starts from Thistle Cove car park along Coastal Trail to Lucky Bay.
Bird Sanctuary—400 m return, allow 15 minutes, easy stroll from Rossiter Bay car park.
Two camping grounds are situated at Cape Le Grand National Park, one at Lucky Bay, and the other at Le Grand Beach (see map). Facilities include septic toilets and showers. A camping fee is charged. Firewood is scarce in the park and you should bring a portable gas stove.
It was on the WOW cruise (see Walpole pages) that I learnt about the most devastating import ever to reach Australia. Something beyond rabbits, foxes, feral cats and goats combined; worse even than global warming.
I was appalled, not only at the scale of destruction it was wreaking but at my lack of knowledge.
Here was something that not only can, but is, changing the face of Australia forever. Yet it’s something you can’t even see though its effects are visible everywhere.
Global warming pales into insignificance beside this pest. On a map of W.A., if you go inland 100 kms from Perth and draw a line south, more than half the area to the west is infected.
Famous places like Cape le Grand National Park have been flattened by its impact.
Of 5,700 plant species, 2,300 are at risk and, with them, the fauna that relies on them.
Behind the beach at Lucky Bay there’s a road where you look down to the sands and the ocean beyond. Years ago, you might get a glimpse here and there. Now it’s totally clear just about the whole length of the bay and much of the fauna has disappeared. (pics 2-4)
Fondest memory: The cause? Phytophthora Cinnamoni, what you might know as dieback. It was Phytophthora Infestans that caused the famous Irish potato famine and it’s a genus of water mould.
The main cause of its spread is humans through soil movement, though animals also play a part. Phytophthora literally means “plant destroyer”; an apt name if ever there was one. In W.A. it’s known as the biological bulldozer; which reminds me; Bell Mining once took a bulldozer illegally into Fitzgerald National Park, a biodiversity area so rare it’s World Heritage Listed.
Guess what was on the bulldozer that hadn’t been pre-cleaned? After the infection was discovered at the site, a massive roo proof fence has been erected around the entire affected area in the hope of containment.
Our host on the WOW tour, the manic Gary Muir, pulled out map after map liberally plastered with orange that indicated where known outbreaks were.
Frankly, the whole story left me saddened, frustrated and remorseful; the latter because I once went off a trail to unwittingly photograph some of the ravages of this mould and probably helped to spread it.
Banksia and grass trees (pics 1 & 5) are particularly susceptible and that is what I now know I saw at Lucky Bay.
I, and hopefully others, will be more careful in future.