‘Excuse me. We are trying to take a photo here.’
The bikini-clad model’s face purses into a scowl as she points at my daughter while she tries to Instagram Esperance.
Ruby is making mischief at Esperance’s Twilight Beach, stopping the model’s photographer/boyfriend from capturing #beachbliss.
‘You’ll just have to wait,’ I say, and try to usher Ruby out of the way. ‘She’s just playing.”
‘We are trying to take a photo!’ the girl scolds, waving her arm at Ruby.
That’s it. The red mist descends.
‘You don’t own the beach,” I state. ‘You don’t own the view.’
As if on cue, Ruby pees through her wetsuit and laughs.
Scattering sand on the mark, I pick her up and go back down to the beach where surf glides up the sand.
An invasion as everyone tries to Instagram Esperance
Rant aside, most people on Insta are cool. And it’s easy to see why Esperance has become an incredibly popular backdrop for social media.
The views WA’s South East coast puts on are jaw-droppingly stunning.
A mate of mine, Christien de Garis, is the breakfast radio presenter for the ABC in the region and wrote about the phenomenon last year.
‘Finally, thanks to the quest for that perfect social media photograph, the world has uncovered Australia’s best kept secret.’
‘The farmers are still the big ticket in Esperance,’ he says as we catch up for a few beers on the town’s beautiful foreshore.
‘But tourism is definitely increasing. A large part of that is driven by the social media we’re seeing, especially Instagram.’
Getting some local insights
Every week Christien takes a recorder into the town and asks travellers about why they came to Esperance.
‘The beaches are the big thing,’ Christien said. ‘They all want to see what they’ve seen online in the flesh.’
The beach is the big attraction for Christien too. After working for Channel 10 in Perth and Sydney, he moved back to the town he finished High School in to take the radio gig – and do plenty of surfing.
‘There was a session a few weeks ago where the wind was coming from the south-east and I knew this surf spot that would be firing,’ he says, eyes gleaming with excitement.
‘So I went out there and it was just locals at the break. The sun streaming through the waves, which just popped out of the water with granite boulders behind.
‘We were all frothing, and I just had to say, “this is why I’m here.”
And I must admit, we felt like staying here for longer on our trip around Australia.
Far from the snapping snappers
The best beaches in Esperance are in the Cape le Grand National Park, which is about an hour’s drive from the town centre.
The main drawcard is Lucky Bay, a scimitar of white sand and banded blue water.
If you’ve ever seen a photo of an Instagram model kneeling in a bikini on the beach while she pats a kangaroo, chances are it’s been taken at Lucky Bay as the models flock here to Instagram Esperance.
When we arrive, everyone’s in a good mood waiting for a snap with the marsupials.
Ruby frolics on the squeaky sand while day trippers sit on plastic chairs sipping “kangacinos.” from a coffee van. Four-wheel-drives crawl up the beach while kite surfers carve along the waves.
But though we love the place, it’s a bit too busy and a bit too windy. So we drive back to a place called Hellfire Bay.
According to WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife, Hellfire Bay is, “thought to have been named after St Elmo’s fire – a bluish flame-like electrical discharge that sometimes occurs above ship’s masts.”
But when we get there, there are no ships in sight. There’s just a scatter of sunbathers on the sand and bodysurfers plying the gentle break.
All I can think is ‘pictures don’t do it justice.’
Have you been to Esperance?