Author: Karli Florisson
Published: September 17, 2019
The Esperance region is home to an amazing number and variety of native plants, so chances are you’ll spot these natural wonders by the side of the road or on your daily walk. Fisheries Road, Cascades Road and even South Coast Highway will have masses of flowers growing along the roadsides if you’re in the mood for a weekend drive. For more dedicated wildflower spotters, here are some of the best places to find wildflowers in the region.
With its panoramic views over the town, the lookout is a great spot to visit at any time of the year. In the spring, it’s worth a walk through the trails around the area. Keep an eye out for Australian Bluebells, Fringe Lilies, and the beautiful flowering Hakea.
Just 15km out of town, Helms Arboretum is a great spot to visit at any time of year. During wildflower season, you’ll spot up to ten different varieties of orchids in the arboretum. Ken Mills, a local botanist and President of the Wildflower Society, recommends driving past the plantation in the arboretum through to the heathland at the back where there are many wildflowers to be spotted.
While we all know the Cape le Grand National Park for its stunning beaches, it is also well worth a visit for the wildflowers. Just 50km east of Esperance, the park is accessible by sealed road and offers a variety of walk trails that will take you through beautiful wildflower country. There are masses of showy banksias, kangaroo paws, grevilleas, and the stunning orange flowers of the WA Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda).
65km from Esperance and easily accessible by gravel roads, the Stokes National Park and Inlet are great places to look for wildflowers. Keep an eye out for the beautiful yellow flowers of the Bell-fruited Mallee.
In the Cape Arid National Park, Mt Ragged is a hotspot for flower enthusiasts. The track is 4WD only, and you should be prepared for rough roads and few facilities in the area. There are plenty of orchids and some flowers such as native pea plants that only occur in the area.
Peak Charles is located 170 km north-west of Esperance. It is in the Peak Charles National Park, accessible by a gravel road. There is no charge to enter the park, but visitors should be aware that there are few facilities in the area. As Peak Charles is located in transition country between coastal areas and the heathlands around Norseman, there are plenty of rare flowers located in the area. Keep an eye out for spectacular hakeas and grevilleas.
No article on wildflowers in the Esperance region would be complete without a mention of the stunning Fitzgerald River National Park. While it is a fair drive from Esperance, this whole region is teeming with wildflowers, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Nearly twenty per cent of WA’s flora species are found in this park, including the beautiful and unique Qualup Bell. Entry fees do apply to the park, and as there is so much to see in the area, it’s certainly worth spending a few days!
Remember not to pick the flowers, as this can result in fines. Just take photos, and be careful of trampling on the plants. Ken Mills recommends that you get out of the car and walk wherever possible, and stop and look closely to see the tiny and unique or hidden flowers of our bushland. Ken also recommends a few precautions to make sure you are not spreading dieback. Take a small brush to clean the soles of your shoes before and after going for walks, or use the stations provided in many of the parks. In national parks, be sure to stay on the trails, and avoid any areas where you can see clumps of dead plants, as they may be affected by dieback. Of course, when heading out of town, you should take the usual precautions. Take plenty of water, and advise someone of where you are going. Then you can enjoy the amazing experience of spotting wildflowers in our region – and be sure to tag #EsperanceTide in your photos.
Photography credit: Lucy Vincent @lovechilds_