The road from Coolgardie to Esperance, again through Norseman, changed from scrubby outback bush to farmland after a couple of hundred kilometres, and after the interestingly named settlements of Salmon Gums and Grass Patch. If Kalgoorlie was a gem then Esperance was a diamond famous for its white sand beaches. It is situated on the south west coast, on Esperence Bay. The town itself is pleasant, though not particularly striking, but is clean, lively, bustling and friendly, and its setting is just wonderful. Esperance, at the moment, is big news across Australia. Recently, it was discovered that some water supplies had large quantities of lead and nickel. This came to notice when large numbers of dead seabirds were found in the area. An inquest is currently on the go but we are reassured that the town’s water supply is now ok. Esperance Bay is home to an impressive archipelago named The Archipelago of the Recherche. Esperance and The Recherche Archipelago were named after two French ships which sought refuge in the bay back in the 1700s. One of the highlights of our stay here, therefore, was a boat trip out to see the bay, its coastline, some of the islands and some of the wildlife – including landing on the eponymous Woody Island. This was a really exhilarating and fascinating trip. While we didn’t see an overabundance of wildlife, we were treated to a fine view of a white breasted sea eagle (which wouldn’t budge from its perch despite an easy meal of sardines being tossed in its direction), a number of varieties of seals (including the very cute New Zealand fur seals), seabirds (including terns, Pacific gulls, shags, Western Cape Barren geese) and dolphins. A must see is the local Esperance Museum, which contains a massive hotchpotch of everything from - shells, fossils, steam engines, dental equipment, general store, wireless, photographs, agriculture machinery, motor vehicles, and all sorts of memorabilia of daily life – and …………. remnants of Skylab which fell around this area before it finally crashed at Balladonia. We also managed to take in (at a splendid, modern, three-screen complex) a trip to the cinema to see Notes on a Scandal, which we’d been trying to see since Sydney. And it was well worth seeing – a great film. Some years ago, one of the first things we used to read on a Sunday morning was the Sunday Times Magazine columnist, Zoe Heller. Notes on a Scandal was her first book and was made into a film starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchet (probably why the film is still showing out here). There are two golf course here – Pink Lake (named after the lake that turns pink in the summer) and Esperance. Nobody from Pink Lake returned our phone call so we decided to play Esperance – and what a good decision that was. We had a glorious 18 holes in wonderful warm sunshine, and all for the price of $20 (£8) – all for as much golf as you can play in a day. This is the first time for some weeks that we’ve played on a course that has real grass fairways, soft luscious tees and green greens. But it also has rough rough, and loads and loads of water hazards, at virtually every hole. Just as well that we’d stocked up with balls. At one hole Eric hit a reasonable drive, which sliced off to the right, preciously near or indeed in a water hazard. aVIN Having already lost three balls into the lake off the tee at a previous hole, he was determined to find this one. He headed off purposefully towards where his ball might have been. But as he approached the tussocks at the water’s edge, suddenly he leapt back like Rudolp Nureyev (never seen him move so fast) when a brown snake, or maybe a Taipan (both one of the world’s deadliest) slithered less than a club’s length away from his feet. Luckily it did no damage, and in fact did him a good turn by revealing the whereabouts of his ball. We’d packed up from the camp site with the intention of moving on to Cape Le Grand National Park, but having had such wonderful day at the golf and still so much to see, we decided to stay another night. We ended the afternoon with a very rushed drive into the setting sun along the renowned and stunning Scenic Coastal Drive. We are occasionally sceptical about the recommendations given in tourist information. But despite what we said about Coolgardie, more often than not the advice is well worth heeding. The Coastal Drive was one example. It was superb and we’re going to do it again at a different time of day.