A granite dome with a pointy peak that resembled the hats worn by French troops in the 1800s, Frenchman Peak or Mandooboornup as it was known before colonisers arrived stands out as a survivor of wind, water and the forces of nature that have eroded most of the surrounding landscape over the aeons.
What Is It?
Rising to a modest 242m above sea level, this impressive granite dome is a feature of the park and a popular recreation activity for those looking to add a fun experience to their trip. With a fun climb to the top and plenty to see and do while you’re there, Frenchman Peak is a must visit place when coming to Cape Le Grand.
Where Is It?
Located an eight-hour drive south east of Perth and 45 minutes from Esperance, Cape Le Grand is a destination well suited to a long road trip. From Esperance, take Fisheries Road east out of town and then take a right onto Merivale Rd. Follow this until you see the signs for Cape Le Grand and turn right onto Cape Le Grand Road. Frenchman Peak is unmissable and the car park is just off Lucky Bay Road.
What to Do?
The hike up to the summit is a short and sharp affair with the total return distance being only 2.5km. After rounding the base of the dome, you reach a spot that points you straight up the granite and you pick your way up the steep slope, following markers that have been bolted into the rock face. It’s very steep in places with a one in three gradient that will really get the legs working. Near the summit it flattens out and you can enjoy the views without worrying about your next breath.
Before you take the remaining section of trail to the summit, the famous cave is a short shuffle down the rocks where you’ll get an open cavern that frames the view out towards the ocean very nicely. Formed by wave action when this was all underwater many millions of years ago, this iconic spot will leave you in awe while providing some great views. To experience even better views, climb out of the cave and loop up to the summit where on a clear day you can see all the beaches of Cape Le Grand along with the nearby Recherche Archipelago.
What Not to Do:
Not hiking to the conditions. This is listed as a Class 5 hike by Parks and Wildlife and the big reason for this is the steep climb up the granite slope. When it is dry this shouldn’t pose an issue for those that are sure-footed and careful but wet granite can be very dangerous. There is nothing to stop your fall here so choose your steps carefully and avoid the hike in wet and windy conditions.
Anything Else? Cape Le Grand is a really cool place so you’d be amiss if you didn’t check out the other cool sites in the area like Lucky Bay, Thistle Cove and Hellfire Bay. The Cape Le Grand Coastal Trail is a great way to see all of these sites with some of the most spectacular hiking in the state but you will need a car at either end to hike that one.
About the author:
Mark (The Life of Py) is a Perth based outdoor enthusiast that loves exploring the trails of Western Australia in his free time. When he isn’t out taking photos he is busy planning the next adventure. See more of his content HERE.