SEARCH FOR HIDDEN WILDFLOWERS IN ESPERANCE
Every spring, Western Australia bursts to life with a colourful display of weird and wonderful wildflowers, flowering trees and insectivorous plants - some of which can be found nowhere else on earth.
The southern part of Western Australia is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, so when you take a road trip through this part of our state during wildflower season, you’ll find more rare varieties and unique species than anywhere else.
But be warned, not all wildflowers are showy. Here, many are tiny, delicate and need to be hunted for like precious treasure.
Whilst the northern part of WA is known for its sprawling carpets of everlastings, Esperance and the Fitzgerald Coast boasts a more unique variety of blooms. Think tiny, brightly coloured patches popping up amongst the sandy scrub, beautiful but deadly flowers that lure insects in with droplets of sticky nectar and orchids that resemble donkeys.
Here are some of our favourite places to hunt for wildflowers in Esperance this spring.
Day trips out of town
Cape Le Grand
Whilst Cape Le Grand National Park, home to Australia’s whitest beach, is best known for the sunbathing kangaroos of Lucky Bay, you’ll be blown away by the wild coastal scenery, granite peaks and colourful displays of flowers in this windswept national park. Look out for banksias of all kinds here – from the solid, cone-like sceptrum variety to the madcap pulchella species, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Dr Seuss novel.
Cape Arid National Park is a little further out of town and required a 4WD. This remoteness means you get incredible wild beauty and one of the most biodiverse areas in the region. The landscape here is rugged and unexpected; coastal sandheaths, mallee and low granite hills extend inland to Mount Ragged, where you’ll then find woodlands dominated by saltbush and bluebush. This near-pristine wilderness is an important conservation area for 1100 species of plants and more than 160 bird species. Look out for the iconic bottlebrush with its delicate fuchsia spines flecked with fluorescent yellow droplets, the huge royal hakea, easily identifiable by its tall stature, thick foliage and rainbow-coloured leaves and the qualup bell that resembles a delicate upside-down tulip.
If you fancy a day trip out of Esperance, Mount Ridley is around 70km north and offers great walking trails and wildflowers. You can take a hike to the summit and be rewarded with amazing views over the surrounding bushland or explore the curved cliff known affectionately as mini Wave Rock. There are trails around the base of Mount Ridley where you can find a variety of blooms including spiky casurinas, mustard-yellow jam wattles, bright red quandongs, and you’ve guessed it, more hakeas! This is a lovely spot for a picnic and spotting native wildlife and birds. A perfect alternative to the beach if you get a blustery day.
Local locations in Esperance
This huge reserve is made up of two parts, a pine plantation and an arboretum. You can cruise around the bush areas in your car, but it’s much better explored on food. Park up, pack a picnic and get exploring! Helm’s Arboretum is a wonderful place to hunt for precious orchids – here you’ll find all varieties including spider, donkey and cowslips. If you’re visiting outside of wildflower season, the iconic royal hakea is on show all year round.
The lookouts location atop the large granite outcrops gives expensive views over the town and coastline. Take in the spectacular vista of the remote islands of the Recherche Archipelago and the sweeping panorama of the town of Esperance. Go for a stroll along the walking trails and keep your eyes peeled for flowering eucalypts, dryandras and banksias.
This spot it much closer to home, so it’s great if you don’t want to travel too far from town. This lake is a wildlife lovers paradise – it’s home to over 20,000 waterbirds, and you’ll also find bandicoots, possums and noisy little banjo frogs. Go for a wander along the Kepwari Walk Trail which winds through fringing sedgelands, heathlands and paperbarks to discover wildflowers all along the path edges. You’re looking for tiny treasure here - spider orchids, cowslips and colourful kangaroo paws.