Named after a prospector’s horse
150 km south of Kalgoorlie. If you’re heading west across Australia, this is where you pick up your certificate to prove you’ve crossed the Eyre Highway (available from the Tourist Office at 68 Roberts Street, +61 (0)8 9039 1071). This settlement, with a population of almost 850, was named after a prospector’s horse, whose statue now stands on Roberts Street. Why all the fuss? Norseman’s hoof stumbled on a gold nugget here in 1894. All you’ll probably want to see is the Olympic-sized public swimming pool in the town centre. Nearby is an eerie salt lake – see photo.
Detour – Esperance
From Norseman you can head 200 km south down the Coolgardie – Esperance Highway to the coast of the Great Australian Bight at Esperance.
This remote spot began life in the 1890s as a port for the goldfields. Nowadays, it attracts tourists with its stunning coastline and unexpectedly pleasant climate (The temperature seldom gets above 30). The surrounding landscape is spectacular with five national parks, the Pink Lake and some superb sandy beaches nearby. But a word of warning if you’re planning to explore more remote spots along the shoreline. This region is subject to the occasional king wave. These monsters come ashore without warning, and have been known to sweep away the unwary.
Offshore are the hundred or so islands of the Recherche Archipelago. In the blue waters around these rocky outcrops, you can see seals, dolphins and migrating whales. The islands are inhabited only by goats, except for Woody Island, which is a wildlife sanctuary and can be reached by several cruise lines. There is a resort (www.woodyi.com) along with self-sufficient camping sites on the island.