It's true, Esperance is long way from anywhere, a dot on the far south-eastern coastline of Western Australia, a state which itself is remote enough. So the ideal way to experience this place is to arrive by sea; after all, the first Europeans came that way.
A Dutch seaman was first, in 1627, and then, in 1792, while sheltering from a storm, Frenchman Bruni d'Entrecasteaux named it after his ship, Esperance, meaning 'hope'.
In the early days the bays of Esperance were thronged with whalers, sealers and pirates. Then came pastoralists with huge land leases, and miners seeking treasure from the goldfields around Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie to the north.
Today's town, with a population of around 10,000, welcomes visitors lured by the pristine salt-white beaches that lead into gemstone-blue waters. Whether you come with a swimsuit or an SLR camera, Esperance delivers jaw-dropping scenery and ultimate seclusion.
Other highlights include whale spotting and wildflowers in season, island tours, diving, fishing, and several national parks ideal for hiking. The local museum has pieces of the US space station, Skylab, which crashed nearby in 1979, making the small town world-famous for a short while. Plus, the town even has its very own Stonehenge.
The Port of Esperance is a busy cargo port servicing the inland areas to the west and north. Iron ore, nickel, grain and other heavy materials are shipped from here and there can be space issues, in which case your ship will anchor and tender ashore. Free shuttle buses take you to the town centre.
Have fun noticing local car number plates. Every council area in Western Australia has its own prefix for cars registered in that region. In Esperance it is E.
Be careful collecting shells in shallow water or on the beach as they might contain live 'occupants'. The blue-ringed octopus is very dangerous. Not all beaches are patrolled or have flags so do watch out for 'rips' (strong currents) when there is a big swell.
Picking wildflowers is prohibited throughout the state. If bushwalking, be alert for snakes, wear a hat, and use sun-protection creams.
ATMs and currency exchanges may be found throughout the town at banks and also in shopping centres as well as many hotels. Withdrawals will be in Australian currency, usually in $50 and $20 notes. For current currency conversion figures visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. US dollars are not accepted, but credit cards are generally welcome.
Mermaid Leather (yes, you read that right) is made and crafted by the only commercial tannery in Australia specialising in quality fish leather. Colourful and creative, it is environmentally friendly, using what otherwise would be residual waste from the local fishing fleet. This is artisan work, so prices vary widely, from a sample pack of different kinds of fish leathers -- barramundi, shark, groper, snapper -- to dried and dyed fish scales, coasters, key chains, clothing and accessories.