ESPERANCE, approximately 720km southeast of Perth, is at the western end of the Archipelago of the Recherche. Both town and archipelago were named after the French ships that visited the area in the late eighteenth century, and whose persistent interest in the region precipitated the hasty colonization of WA by the edgy British.

The mild summer weather (rarely exceeding 30 °C), abundant fishing opportunities and surrounding national parks ensure Esperance is a popular destination for heat-sensitive holidaymakers. The town boasts a laid-back charm that’s appealing – most evident in the mornings when the coffee van pulls up in the jetty car park and the locals lounge around in the sun with their takeaway cappuccinos and socialize for a couple of hours.

The hundred or so islands of the romantically named Archipelago of the Recherche – known as the Bay of Isles – are chiefly occupied by seals, feral goats and multitudes of seabirds. Dolphins may also be spotted offshore and southern right whales are commonly observed migrating to the Antarctic in spring.