Israelite Bay is a remote beach east of Esperance, primarily known for its fishing. It is a challenge to get there, and you need to be completely self sufficient (fuel, water, camping, cooking etc). It also holds a lot of historical value, being one of the first places to communicate with Europe. There are ruins and an old jetty still there to explore today.
Where is Israelite Bay?
Israelite Bay is a shire run campground 200km east of Esperance. The nearest fuel, water and general facilities is at Condingup Tavern, which is 134km away.
Camping at Israelite Bay
There is a designated camping grounds at Israelite Bay, which would probably hold around 20 groups of campers. There are also a number of other places littered around the bay that have been set up for camping too. We saw a few camper trailers set up, but you would have to be very confident in its build quality before taking it out there!
Getting to Israelite Bay
Israelite Bay can be accessed by Fisheries Road. The first 130km are bitumen/gravel and are quite easy to drive on. After that though, the road turns to a 4WD track and is quite challenging, even in the dry. The corrugations are terrible, and there are ruts that would easily have a Patrol or Land cruiser bottomed out. Most of the really bad places have alternative routes, but in the wet it would be a real challenge to get through this track. It goes around a salt lake; make sure you stick as far as possible off the lake, or you may end up bogged to the sills in stinky, salty mud!
The 4WD section of fisheries road is often closed to poor weather, so make sure you check with the ranger before heading off!
Israelite Bay supplies and help
The closest place to make a purchase at Israelite Bay is the Condingup tavern, some 134 km away. This has diesel, petrol, a general store, a tavern and some very good quality food! From here on though, you need to have your own water, fuel, food, cooking equipment, camping equipment, tools and spares to ensure that you are 100% self sufficient. Help is a long way away at the Bay; make sure you have a first aid kit and you are careful with what you do!
Fishing at Israelite Bay
The fishing at Israelite Bay is the main reason for people visiting it. Esperance locals often visit the area, and those who are looking for a fishing adventure head there too. We fished off the rocks one evening and had minimal luck, but were not all that persistent! Herring, skippy, salmon, mulloway, squid and the reef varieties are very common. I’m told Pink Snapper are common too, in season. We also dived in 2 locations trying to find some fish for a feed, but didn’t come across much.
However, just because we didn’t do too well fishing doesn’t mean it isn’t good for wetting a line; a number of the guys we spoke to had caught mulloway, salmon and sharks off the beach and rocks.
Israelite Bay 4WDing
Israelite Bay is not the most pretty of places, and the main beach is covered in seaweed. Unless the weed is dry and you can see people have driven on it, stay off it! When we stayed at Israelite Bay, a bloke was driving down the beach on the seaweed in the middle of the night, when he sunk down and couldn’t get out. He slept the night in his car, and had to be recovered early the next morning.
Seaweed is very deceptive, and often has huge pockets of air under it. One minute you can be driving along, and the next you will lose a wheel and all hope of traction. I managed to pick up a large piece of weed on my rear tail shaft, just driving along a short section of the beach to access the rocks (the only way you can go, used by everyone).
On low tide, most of the beaches can be driven on providing you stay off the weed, and take it easy. Make sure you know the tide times; they are very important in this area. The point has a number of big rocks that you can drive around on, literally right to the water’s edge. Take care on these, but enjoy the area.
The beach around the corner is pristine and whiter than I’ve ever seen a beach before. The sand squeals when you walk or drive on it, and it is considerably louder than I thought it would be! You can drive west along the beach for quite a while
Israelite Bay attractions
Israelite Bay had an operating communication station way back in 1877 - 1917. Today, you can wander through the ruins and see what it was like. Two graveyards are evident and a few cottage ruins. There is also a jetty at Israelite Bay, a washed up boat and plenty of rocks/beach to explore. The major attraction is the fishing and remoteness – the further away from people the better it seems to be!
You can also drive to the Bilbunya dunes from Israelite Bay, but make sure you have a heap of fuel on board. These dunes are the biggest in the southern hemisphere, and are well worth the climb.
Would I go back?
Honestly? I would, but I’d go back to other parts of Esperance first. We visited Cape Arid and Le Grand National Park after Israelite Bay, and were blown away. They are prettier, have more options for getting out of the wind and better camping facilities. Israelite Bay is remote, which makes it good for fishing and getting away from it all, but it is a long way out!
That said, it is a unique place with a lot of history and a sense of freedom which is spectacular. A lot of people come down from Balladonia, through the Bilbunya dunes, onto Israelite Bay and then continue working their way back.