Esperance, Western Australia
View of the Esperance CBD, 2012.
|Population||9,919 (2011 census)|
|Time zone||AWST (UTC+8)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Esperance|
Esperance is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, on the Southern Ocean coastline approximately 720 kilometres (450 mi) east-southeast of the state capital, Perth. Esperance is home to 9,919 people (2011 census). Its major industries are tourism, agriculture, and fishing. The Shire of Esperance is home to 13,477 people.
European history of the region dates back to 1627 when the Dutch vessel Gulden Zeepaert, skippered by François Thijssen, passed through waters off the Esperance coast and continuing across the Great Australian Bight.
French explorers are credited with making the first landfall near the present day town, naming it and other local landmarks whilst sheltering from a storm in this area in 1792. The town itself was named after a French ship, the Espérance, commanded by Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec. Espérance, is French for 'hope'.
In 1802, British navigator Matthew Flinders sailed the Bay of Isles, discovering and naming places such as Lucky Bay and Thistle Cove. Whalers, sealers and pirates followed, as did pastoralists and miners, keen to exploit the free land and cash in on the gold boom in the gold fields to the north.
The area of the Esperance townsite was first settled by the Dempsters, a pioneer family of Scottish descent, in the 1870s. A telegraph station was opened in 1876, although the formal gazettal of the townsite did not occur until 1893.
The town jetty was also built through the 1890s, following the discovery of gold in the eastern goldfields region.
The population of the town was 985 (623 males and 362 females) in 1898.
The mallee area approximately 100 km (62 mi) north of the town began grain production in the 1920s, and by 1935 the construction of a second jetty, tankers jetty, was completed.
Agriculture was introduced to the Esperance sand plain by an American syndicate, in partnership with the state government, in the 1960s following the discovery that adding superphosphate fertilisers containing trace elements to the poor soils made them suitable for cropping and pastoral activity. Despite early difficulties, the project eventually became a success and large areas of land were cleared during this time.
The population of the town in 1968 was approximately 2,700.
In 1979, pieces of the space station Skylab crashed onto Esperance after the craft broke up over the Indian Ocean. The municipality fined the United States $400 for littering. The fine was paid in April 2009, when radio show host Scott Barley of Highway Radio raised the funds from his morning show listeners, and paid the fine on behalf of NASA. Skylab's demise was an international media event, with merchandising, wagering on time and place of re-entry, and nightly news reports. The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 prize for the first piece of Skylab to be delivered to their offices. 17-year-old Stan Thornton scooped a few pieces of Skylab off the roof of his home in Esperance, caught the first flight to San Francisco, and collected the prize.
In January 2007, the national media claimed that Esperance experienced "the perfect storm" with wind gusts of up to 110 km/h (68 mph) which brought 155 mm (6 in) of rainfall within 24 hours, causing significant flooding. More than 100 homes were damaged, several boats were destroyed, trees were felled, 35 m (115 ft) of bridge on the South Coast Highway, (the main road linking Esperance to Perth), was washed away, and power was cut from thousands of homes. The Western Australian Government declared the area a "natural disaster zone". At least 37,000 sheep were killed in the storm.
There are five primary schools in the region: Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School, Castletown Primary School, Esperance Primary School, Nulsen Primary School and Esperance Christian Primary School. There are also two secondary schools: Esperance Senior High School and Esperance Anglican Community School.
The Anglican school won an appeal in December 2009 against a State Government condition which limited it to grades 8–10; the school can now educate years 8–12.
South Regional TAFE also has a campus in the town.
The Esperance Branch Railway is a standard gauge railway line from Kalgoorlie to Esperance, linking the region to the Trans-Australian Railway and the Eastern Goldfields Railway. This is a freight-only railway and no passenger services currently run.
Near the town itself are numerous beaches, offering surfing, scuba diving, and swimming. Also nearby are a number of salt lakes, including Pink Lake, which gains its rosy hue from red algae living within its waters. Esperance is also home to the Cyclops wave, said to be the world's heaviest wave with massive amounts of water unloading on shallow reef. Cyclops is featured in the surfing films Billabong Odyssey, and the Bra Boys documentary.
There are five major national parks near the town. A major nearby tourist attraction, 20 minutes away from the town centre, is the Cape Le Grand National Park, which offers a picturesque coast of largely granite terrain and sheltered white sand beaches. The park is a popular spot for recreational fishing, as well as four wheel drive enthusiasts and hikers.
Esperance experiences a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. It is subject to wide variations in the weather, from hot summer days when northerly winds arrive from the interior of the state, to cold, wet winter days with southerly winds from the Great Southern Ocean. Annually, the city has 85.5 clear days.
|Climate data for Esperance|
|Record high °C (°F)||46.9
|Average high °C (°F)||26.1
|Average low °C (°F)||15.6
|Record low °C (°F)||8.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||27.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1mm)||6.1||5.5||7.8||10.5||13.7||16.0||16.9||16.5||14.2||11.7||9.6||6.6||135.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||58||58||58||58||59||61||60||57||58||57||58||58||58|
Esperance has the only port in the south-east of Western Australia – the Esperance Port Authority completed a A$54 million upgrade in 2002. The upgrade made the port one of the deepest in southern Australia, capable of handling Cape-class vessels (up to 180,000 tonnes) and fully loaded Panamax-class vessels (up to 75,000 tonnes).
Lead and nickel contamination
In 2007, the deaths of thousands of wild birds alerted residents to a toxic hazard which was found to be the unsafe transport by truck and rail of lead ore from Wiluna for export by ship. When elevated levels of lead were measured in a number of adults and children, as well as in water tanks, a multimillion-dollar cleanup was paid for by the state government. The miner, Magellan Metals, was banned from exporting lead through the port.
A parliamentary inquiry presented its report in November 2007. Before long, additional concerns were raised about pollution caused by nickel dust escaping from exported ore. In October 2008, the Esperance Port Authority banned the export of nickel after emission targets were exceeded twice, but the ban, which threatened Western Australia's $8 billion nickel industry, was overturned by the newly elected Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett.
- Beatles guitarist George Harrison visited a property at Condingup, a farming region near Esperance 
- Collingwood Magpies star forward Quinten Lynch lives in Grass Patch, a farming region of Esperance.
- Former Neighbours actor Dan Paris was raised in Esperance and works as a photographer and helps with the harvest season in surrounding farms.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Esperance (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "About Us". Shire of Esperance. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Esperance (Local Government Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- "European voyages to the Australian continent - Timeline". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- "Escape to Esperance". Article in Australian Traveller Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Birman, Wendy. "Dempster, Andrew (1843–1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. First published in hardcopy in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972
- Western Australian Government Gazette, file 1339/93, 14 December 1893, p.1241.
- "Population of Western Australia.". Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 22 April 1898. p. 23. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Government Members Mining and National Development Committees Fact Finding Tour July 21st-28th 1968" (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. 1968. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
- "History and development of Esperance Port". www.esperanceport.com.au. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
- "History". Visit Esperance. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
- "Waterways east of Esperance". South Coast rivercare. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
- In 2004, the History Channel documentary "History Rocks" stated, in an episode covering major events of 1979, that this fine had not been paid.
- Siemer, Hannah (17 April 2009). "Littering fine paid". The Esperance Express. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.
- "Australians Take Mir Deorbit Risks in Stride". Space.com. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Esperance declared natural disaster area". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 8 Jan 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- "Esperance area storm kills 37,000 sheep". ABC News. ABC. 15 January 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
- "Esperance Anglican Community School Home Page". 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-04.
- "Anglican School condition lifted". Esperance Espress. Esperance, WA. 11 Dec 2009. p. 4. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- "Wind Power in Western Australia". Interview from ABC's Science Show. ABC's Science Show. 30 July 2005. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
- "Climate statistics for Esperance". Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
- Taylor, Paige (16 November 2007). "Dead birds found near lead town". The Australian.
- Parliamentary Inquiry Report, November 2007, www.dec.wa.gov.au
- Crisp, M. "Esperance parliamentary inquiry follow-up factsheet: Where to from Here?". Summary by the Lead Group Inc.
- Towie, N (16 January 2009). "No limit on nickel emissions". PerthNow (Perth Sunday Times).
- Home page, The Esperance Express, Fairfax Regional Media.
- "George in Australia 1984". Meet the Beatles for real: An online Beatles fan club for and about Beatle fans. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
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