Travelling Australia - Journal 2006
30 April-3 May 2006 - Esperance

location map The main features of Esperance are the port itself, the wind generator farm, and coastal scenery.

The caravan park we had selected was a small, neat one on the edge of the commercial area and within walking distance of most shops and the beach. Unfortunately, it was close to a level crossing on the railway line bringing iron ore into the port at all times of the day and night for stockpiling. Engine drivers usually used their sirens less vigorously at night but a train of sixty loaded freight cars inevitably makes a noise when it stops to be unloaded at the port.

Three exports account for 85% of tonnage through the Port of Esperance. Commodities concerned are iron ore, nickel concentrate and grain (mainly wheat and barley). Iron ore comes by train 470 kilometres from Koolyanobbing, nickel concentrate comes by train from Kambalda about 350 kilometres away, grain is grown to the north of Esperance and arrives by road train from wheat bins across the region where farmers deliver their crop. Each of these commodities is stockpiled within the port so bulk carrier ships can be quickly loaded when they arrive. Each of the three berths in the port is equipped to handle specific cargoes and special precautions are taken so that dust from storage and handling does not escape and discolour surrounding residential and commercial areas.
Woodland Train load of iron ore on the 470 kilometre journey from Koolyanobbing to the Port of Esperance.
Woodland Bulk carrier alongside the grain terminal in the Port of Esperance.
The BHP-Billiton nickel mine being built near Ravensthorpe will export nickel concentrate in shipping containers and a container crane will be built at Esperance before the mine begins production in 2007.

Imports through the port comprise petroleum products bound for the goldfields around Kalgoorlie 400 kilometres away, and super phosphate for the farms in the Esperance region where the sandy soil needs to be augmented to successfully grow grain.
Woodland Esperance wind turbines.
Esperance was the site for the first wind turbines in Western Australia and now relies on wind generators to meet 20 - 25% of the demand for electricity. The wind generators are in two farms along the coast with individual wind generators on towers spaced unevenly on hills facing the Southern Ocean to capture most wind. The Port of Esperance meets the remaining demand for the town from six gas-turbine powered generators within the port complex. The gas-turbines are powered by natural gas carried in a specially laid gas-pipeline from Kambalda about 350 kilometres to the north near Kalgoorlie. The gas itself comes from the North-West Shelf thousands of kilometres away.

The town is the service centre for the surrounding agricultural district and the westernmost township on Western Australia's south coast before the semi-arid coast of the Great Australian Bight.