French explorers are credited with making the first landing in Esperance, whilst sheltering from a storm in 1792. The town itself was named after a French ship, the Espérance, which is French for ‘hope’.
In 1802 British navigator Matthew Flinders sailed through the Bay of Isles and named key Esperance locations, including Lucky Bay and Thistle Cove.
Aboriginal people have been in the Esperance area for over 200 000 years, and the Aboriginal name of the area is “Kepa Kurl”, which means “the place where the waters lay down like a boomerang”. In 1841 Edward John Eyre with his Aboriginal guide Wylie, met Captain Rossiter on their epic journey from Adelaide, aboard the French Whaler “Mississippi” in the bay which is now known as Rossiter Bay. Wylie Bay was named by Eyre to honour his guide.
The Esperance town site was first settled by the Dempster brothers in the 1860s, when they walked from Northam to Esperance with their families, Aboriginal guides and over 3000 head of stock. The Esperance town was formally gazetted in 1893 and farming and agriculture was the key industry.
The town continued to flourish as a farming community, and in 1962 work commenced on Port Authority, which saw the Esperance economy diversify.
In 2014 Esperance has a population of approximately 15 000 people, and has a number of key industries, including tourism, mining, fishing and agriculture.
For more information on the history of Esperance, click here.