Stonehenge in Esperance WA: Journey Through Time and Granite

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What manner of madness is this?

Yes, Stonehenge, but not as you know it. Not the one on Salisbury Plain, the broken one.

No, the one they mended here, in Esperance, Western Australia.” 

– Bill Bailey

Have you ever wondered how a slice of ancient Britain found its way to the sunny shores of Esperance on the southern coast of Western Australia?

Nestled in the coastal town of Esperance, this full-size replica of the original Stonehenge, the one on Salisbury Plain in the United Kingdom, is a marvel of stone and weight. It weighs a whopping 2,500 tonnes.

It’s perfectly aligned with the solstices, so as Western Australians, we have our own slice of celestial magic right on our doorstep!

Including Esperance Stonehenge in your WA itinerary gives you a break from the area’s pristine beaches and offers a glimpse into a historical mystery.

It’s a spectacle worth experiencing, especially for those interested in historical recreations and celestial phenomena.

Let’s explore the journey and significance of this local marvel.

Esperance stonehenge with the sun just coming over one of the stones
Esperance Stonehenge in the mid-afternoon sun ©Lifejourney4two

Stonehenge in Esperance: A Marvel of History and Engineering

The whole ring of stones seen from the outside
The life-size replica of the UK’s Stonehenge – right here in Western Australia ©Lifejourney4two

Why is there a Stonehenge in Esperance?

The story behind this local Stonehenge is as fascinating as the structure itself.

This ambitious project was originally meant to be a major tourist attraction in Margaret River. But fate had other plans. Following the 2008 global financial crisis, the project’s patron, faced with financial strife, could no longer afford to bring these massive pink granite stones from an Esperance quarry to life.

For three years, these painstakingly carved replicas of the iconic UK Stonehenge stones lay forgotten, at risk of being dismantled and sold off piece by piece.

Rescue and Revival

That’s when local farmers Kim Beale and his wife Jillian saw value, whereas others saw ruin. The Beales rescued the stones, transforming their farm into the current home of Esperance’s very own Stonehenge.

“We couldn’t bear the thought of these beautiful stones being reduced to tiles,” Jillian told the Daily Mail.

New Guardians

In early 2022, the stewardship of Esperance’s Stonehenge was passed to new owners Tracey and Oliver Gillbard.

When talking to Tracey, it was clear that owning Esperance Stonehenge goes beyond mere ownership. Tracey and Oliver are the dedicated ‘Keepers of the Henge,’ committed to preserving this link to history for future generations.

Wooden gateway into the Stonehenge area in front of a gravel path
Stonehenge, Esperance ©Lifejourney4two

A Living Monument

Imagine standing among 137 towering stones of Esperance pink granite. Some of these giants stand up to 8 metres tall and weigh as much as 58 tons. They are arranged to mirror the original Stonehenge’s alignment with the solstices.

Unlike its British counterpart, visitors can get close to the Esperance stones, offering a tactile connection to history that the Salisbury Plain Stonehenge no longer permits.

On June 21st, the winter solstice, the setting sun casts a golden glow through the massive trilithons. By December, the summer sun aligns perfectly with the Heel Stones and the altar stone, echoing the ancient rituals that might have taken place around the original megaliths in the UK.

This full-size replica showcases the architectural prowess that went into building the original Stonehenge around 1950 BC.

The inside Large tristones on the stonehenge
Stonehenge, Esperance © Lifejourney4two

But here’s the kicker.

Unlike Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, you can actually get up close and personal with these stones.

Wandering among them gives you a visceral sense of what the original must have been like. It sparks the imagination—what ceremonies might have taken place here? How did ancient peoples erect these massive stones without modern technology?

Today, even with modern machinery, lifting the heftiest stones into place was a monumental task, requiring a special crane.

 Standing beneath these behemoths, it’s impossible not to marvel at the ingenuity of our ancestors. Sure, there are some wild theories about their origins – aliens, anyone?

But the most accepted view celebrates the incredible engineering skills and effort it took to create such a monument, a project spanning over 800 years.

Photo with a close of one stone with others in the background
Stonehenge, Esperance ©Lifejourney4two

Standing Stones and Circles

There is a mystery surrounding why and how stone circles were built worldwide, which adds to their allure and mysticism.

Personally, touching the weathered stones of the Standing Stones in Orkney and the Clava Cairns near Culloden in Scotland connected me profoundly to the past.

And even though these replicas in Esperance haven’t weathered thousands of years, running your fingers over them bridges a gap through time, linking you to the distant past and those ancient architects of mystery.

Shelley stood by one of the large tristones looking at the outer wall stones
Stonehenge, Esperance ©lifejourney4two

Making the Most of Your Visit

Maximizing your experience at Esperance Stonehenge involves a bit of planning and insider tips. Here’s how to ensure your visit is as enriching as possible:

Planning Your Visit

  • 🌞 Solstices Showcase: Visit during the solstices to witness the stones in their full ceremonial glory. The winter solstice (21 June) often features special events, like a memorable showing of Macbeth.
  • 🌤️ Seasonal Considerations: While the solstices are a highlight, Esperance’s weather and tourist seasons can affect your visit. Summers offer warm, sunny days that are ideal for exploring but attract more visitors. Cooler months might offer a more secluded experience.
  • 🧑‍🧑‍🧒‍🧒 To Avoid Crowds: Easter weekend and school holidays are the busiest times of the year here, so if you’re looking for a more peaceful visit, choose off-peak times.
  • 🐾 Pet Policy: Pets must remain in your vehicle since the site is on a working farm. It’s important for their safety and the preservation of the site.
  • ? Ask Away: The staff at Esperance Stonehenge are incredibly knowledgeable. Don’t shy away from asking questions to deepen your understanding of the site.

Practical Information

Esperance-to-Stonehenge-Esperance route on a google map
Esperance to Esperance Stonehenge – 18km / 17 min drive
  • Getting There: Esperance Stonehenge is located at 17 Merivale Road, Esperance, WA 6450. Contact 08 9075 9003 or email [email protected] for the latest visitor information.
  • Esperance Stonehenge Entry Fees 2024: Admission is $14 per adult. Upon arrival, visitors receive an insightful rundown of the Stonehenge replica. Cream teas and other refreshments are also available.
  • Drone Policy: The site is a no-fly zone for drones during business hours. If you want to capture aerial footage, arrange it in advance.
Large stones inside stonehenge
Stonehenge, Esperance ©Lifejourney4two

Esperance Stonehenge Reviews

It’s always interesting to see what the crowd reckons before you head somewhere new, isn’t it? We each have our own perspectives, and it would be remiss of me to only tell you how much we enjoyed the experience.

That’s why I’ve also gathered some thoughts from visitor’s reviews on Tripadvisor to give you the full picture.

Overall, those who’ve visited Esperance Stonehenge generally love the place, rating it 4 out of 5.

Here’s the nitty-gritty of visitor’s opinions

Based on recent reviews, here’s what visitors are raving about and what they think could be improved:

Positive Experiences:

  1. Angela F (Jan 2024): “Who would believe it — Stonehenge in its entirety in Esperance!!! Full size, all in local granite, a complete wow moment. Just wander around and soak it in. This will be here forever, up there with one of the great Aussie attractions.
  2. David S (Nov 2023): “An amazing achievement. Hundreds of tons of rock carved out of a quarry, then laboriously raised into position. Result: a lifesize reproduction of the original complete Stonehenge in UK, & MUCH better to visit. So impressive, these stones towering above you.
  3. Rpneal (Oct 2023): “I had low expectations and thought it might be some amateurish display. I could not have been more wrong! I was awestruck!! A life-size granite replica of Stonehenge as it would have looked 4000 years ago! Yes really !! It’s is majestic, mysterious and a must see. Just go!!

❗️Balanced Views:

  1. Solotravels2023 (Feb 2024): “I felt it was overpriced; you spend maybe 30 minutes taking a look, and the assistants do verbally tell you about the stones, apart from shop and cafe. I suggest a $10 adult fee and less for seniors.
  2. rob27898 (Dec 2023): “Calling it a replica is ‘loose’ as it’s not built the same (different stone, method of erecting, footings etc.) as the original although, like the original in the UK, it’s smaller than anticipated… It was a very quick visit. The site does have potential, especially with the briefing, which is a bit 1986… It’s just steep for such a short visit time-wise.
  3. Steven H (Apr 2023): “Visited this attraction after a recommendation from the information centre in Esperance. The construction and engineering was impressive, however the overall feeling was ‘why’? It had no relevance to the area, felt totally out of place …

In summary, while Esperance Stonehenge has its quirks and may not be perfect for everyone, it generally offers a unique and enriching experience that many find well worth exploring. We certainly did!

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a photographer, or simply looking for a unique outing, this site has something special to offer everyone.

Why not visit and see for yourself?

Shelley looking at the outer walls of Esperance Stonehenge
Stonehenge, Esperance ©Lifejourney4two

Other Places to Visit Nearby: A Journey Beyond the Stones

  • Cape Le Grand National Park
    Discover the untouched beauty of Cape Le Grand National Park, where white sand beaches meet crystal-clear aquamarine waters. 
  • Lucky Bay
    Voted as one of the world’s best beaches, Lucky Bay sets the bar high with its powder-fine sand and turquoise waters. It’s the perfect place to relax, with kangaroos sometimes (though not as often as touted)  spotted along the shore, adding to the serene Australian vibe.
  • Thistle Cove
    For those who prefer the path less travelled, Thistle Cove offers a tranquil escape with stunning coastal walks. The area’s remarkable natural acoustics, where the wind plays melodies through Whistling Rock, create an interesting experience.
  • Frenchman Peak
    Challenge yourself to climb Frenchman Peak for breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of the park. The peak’s unique granite formation, resembling a Frenchman’s cap, is a great photo opportunity and a vantage point like no other.
  • Wharton Bay
    A little further east of Esperance lies Wharton Bay, a hidden gem locals cherish. Its secluded beaches and vibrant turquoise waters make it an ideal spot for those looking to escape the crowds.
  • Great Ocean Drive
    Take a scenic drive along this 40 km loop, the Great Ocean Drive, where every turn offers a new stunning viewpoint. From rugged cliffs to serene beaches, this drive encapsulates the dramatic beauty of Esperance’s coast. 
Lars taking photos between the stones at Esperance stonehenge
Lars capturing all the angles ©Lifejourney4two

But Wait… There’s Another Australian Stonehenge?

Did you know there’s a mesmerizing ancient stone arrangement in Victoria named Wurdi Youang?

Some experts believe it could be Australia’s original Stonehenge, potentially predating the famed British stones by thousands of years.

What sets Wurdi Youang apart is its age and precise alignment with astronomical phenomena. Researchers have found that the arrangement of the stones accurately marks the equinoxes and solstices, showcasing an advanced understanding of the cosmos by Indigenous Australians long before such knowledge was documented elsewhere.

This revelation invites us to reconsider the flow of ancient wisdom across continents. Could it be that the architects of the British Stonehenge shared a similar understanding of the skies?

The idea that the Brits might have followed the Aussie example all along offers a fascinating twist to our historical narrative!

Wurdi Youang stands as a testament to the sophisticated astronomical knowledge and cultural depth of Indigenous Australians, reminding us of the rich tapestry of human ingenuity spanning the globe.

two triangular shaped stones stones lined up fro the solstice with the main ring of stones
Stonehenge, Esperance ©Lifejourney4two

Western Australia’s Stonehenge – That’s a Wrap

Bill Bailey’s enlightening segment on this remarkable replica from Episode One of Wild West Australia – Far South brings the story to life.

To delve deeper into the mystery and allure of Esperance Stonehenge, watch the full episode on ABC iView or explore the dedicated segment on the Esperance Stonehenge Facebook page.

Whether you visit for the history, engineering, or spiritual vibes, it’s a place that invites reflection and awe.

If you like the quirkiness of a visit here, you might also like to explore Gnomesville in the Ferguson Valley or take a road trip from Perth to Wave Rock and take in the Corrigin Dog Cemetery and the Kulin Tin Horse Highway.

Have you visited Esperance Stonehenge? What impressed you most about it?

Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below—your story can help others plan their visit and set the right expectations.

And if you are planning a road trip to the southern regions of Western Australia—often referred to locally as ‘down South’, a term affectionately used for these regions of Western Australia — grab our free travel planner before you go!

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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