Esperance & Maritime

Esperance has a rich maritime history. In fact, the discovery of Esperance was made through the sea by Frenchmen in 1792.

The Great South Land coast is generally believed to have been discovered by Dutchman Pieter Nuyts in January 1627. He sailed in a vessel called the GuIde Zeepaard, which translates to the Golden Sea Horse. On the 9th of December 1792, Esperance was named by Captain Huon de Kermadec after his ship called the Esperance, meaning hope.

However, despite the French finding and naming Esperance, they failed to leave anything of value behind other than their reports on the region.

The early settlers in Esperance did leave a lot of relics and memorabilia. After establishing the colonial settlement at King George’s Sound in 1826, settlers began to take up grazing land eastward gradually.

Sunny day at Ten Mile Lagoon, Esperance, Western Australia

The first settlers in Esperance were the Dempsters. They settled in Esperance in 1863. They built the first landing area in Esperance. Soon, more people began to settle in the area. In 1870, the Moirs joined the Dempsters, the Brooks McGills, and John Muir.

The memorabilia left behind by these early settlers are now displayed in the Esperance local museum. Visit us at Esperance to view the memorabilia left behind by Esperance’s early settlers as far back as the 1800s. The items on display will give you an astonishing, entertaining, and educative look into history.

Sinking old ship!

The Voyage to Disaster

On the 14th of February in 1991, a ship called Sanko Harvest smashed into a reef while trying to take a shortcut into Esperance. Over the space of two weeks, the ship spilt its contents into the sea. It carried a cargo of thirty thousand tons of soluble fertilisers and about seven hundred tonnes of heavy fuel oil.

The fuel and fertiliser flowed into the sea and mostly ended up on the Cape Le Grand National Park beach. The area quickly became soaked in thick, black oil. A once-clean, open-air beach and sea became a heavily polluted area. For the tourism industry and the wildlife in the area, it was nothing short of a disaster.

The ship was initially thought to be salvageable. However, further damage was caused to it by the reef, and it was rendered unsalvageable. Operations to clean up the shore and sea began immediately.

Today, a variety of gear and a lifeboat saved from the once-proud Sanko Harvest Ship wreckage are kept and displayed in the Esperance Museum. The wreck itself is now home to several fish and is a tourist attraction that divers visit.

Visit the Esperance Museum to see our display of Maritime memorabilia from as far back as the 1800s and see the wreckage remains of the once-proud Sanko Harvest ship. The museum is open daily between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm except on Good Friday, the 25th of December, and a short maintenance winter break. Entry fees apply for adults, children, and groups.

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