Gill Goes.... Trekking the Cape to Cape in Western Australia


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Oceania » Australia » Western Australia » Augusta
December 28th 2018
Published: January 21st 2019
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With almost 2 weeks of leave over my least favourite season (summer) for the Xmas and New Year break I was going a bit stir crazy. What to do? Where to go? Where could I go that wasn't going to cost much and wasn't going to kill me with heat stress? Well... with lowish summer temperatures down south for the following week, a very impromptu 7 day solo 135 km trek from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin seemed to fit the bill.

... Impromptu, as in... decide on Wednesday night, prepare on Thursday and leave on Friday.

I'm completely kitted out for this style of trip now and usually have a few homemade dehydrated meals kicking around for last minute trips like this so it just took a small amount of preparation to be ready. On Thursday I picked up a pocket sized guidebook called "The Capes" from author and fellow hiker, Michelle Ryan, aka "Walking Two By Two". This proved to be a great buy. A trip to Anaconda secured a new gas canister, a snake bite kit and some Bushmans Bug Spray. Last stop was the supermarket to supplement my food supply for the 7 days. With access to small shops and caravan parks in Yallingup, Gracetown, Prevelly and Hamelin Bay along the way I didn't need the same amounts of supply as on sections of The Bibb Track.

This is a very short summary of my C2C with lots of photos:

Day 1 Friday 28/12

Cape Naturaliste to Mount Duckworth Campsite

Set off not quite at the crack of dawn on the 3 hour-ish drive from Perth to Yallingup. Caught up with a couple of friends staying in Busselton, one of whom VERY kindly helped me with a car shuttle so that I could leave my car at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. I let the volunteers at the lighthouse know that my car was in the carpark and gave them an ETA for my return. Rachel then dropped me back out at the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse so that I could begin. Only 10.67km to cover to reach Mt Duckworth campsite (free site, no booking required). I had to stay at Mt Duckworth because the Yallingup Caravan Park was fully booked, this meant a short walk today and a longer one tomorrow. Easy start from the C2C info board in the lighthouse carpark-boardwalk to start (making it accessible for wheelchairs and prams) and only 2 beach stretches to contend with. Passing through Sugarloaf Rock and Three Bears it was hot and windy. Finishing up high on the cliffs was a bonus as it cooled down and the sea transformed to a metallic expanse of awesomeness. Mt Duckworth was a shady oasis with a pit loo, water tank, table/bench and just me for the night. It was a good decision to stay here- the caravan park would have been noisy and crowded, here in the bush it was perfect.



Day 2 Saturday 29/12

Mount Duckworth Campsite to Moses Rock Campsite

Another warm day forecast so on the trail by 06:30. Covered 24.5km in 6 hours (excluding an hour of breaks). Quick first few kms into Yallingup where there were about a thousand people doing yoga (I exaggerate) and hundreds of surfie dudes. Super average cup of coffee then onwards. Soft sand stretches over Smiths and Injidup Beaches, rocky spots to negotiate and an undulating afternoon in hot sandy tracks and dunes around Quininup Falls (still sort of flowing, lots of algae) and beach. Oddly, I haven’t seen a single snake! Very odd. Pretty dramatic colours all day. A typical set of steep wooden steps to go down to the beach to contend with (bonus of south bound walking). They were in various stages of dis/repair. Super blue ocean at the bottom?! Tempting! Got to say it was a relief to get back up to the high cliffs overlooking Moses Rock - a long sit on the bench at the top saved my brains from boiling.

Moses Rock campsite is another free, no booking required C2C site with loo/water/benches and shady tent pitches. Had the company of 2 other women plus some later arrivals. I love my tent. Asleep by 20:00 after a 43 070 step day (not exaggerating).



Day 3 Sunday 30/12

Moses Rock Campsite to Ellensbrook Campsite

A 19 km day following the C2C white and yellow trail markers, with more ocean, sand and a fantastic bit of red rock hopping. Another pretty warm, blue sky, no clouds day. I’ve taken to getting up and going early, hiking 5-9 km then having breakfast trailside- my oats are nice and squishy by then having been bounced around at the top of my pack
for a couple of hours. Ate in the shade at the almost top of a massive staircase in Wilyabrup this morning. Still no snakes. Arrived into Gracetown mid morning- excellent coffee/danish stop at the cafe- recommended! Felt very filthy and sweaty lining up in the very busy coffee shop. If you need to get supplies this is a great spot to do so- bread, cheese, fruit, etc all available. The cafe also allow you to recharge your phone and top up your water for a gold coin donation

Solid hiking but not overly difficult through to Ellensbrook campsite after a diversion around the historic homestead there (currently under renovation). Ellensbrook campsite is gorgeous- very lush, very green and lots of bird life. Variegated fairy wrens, 28’s, honeyeaters, etc. I pitched my tent facing into the greenery - the best outlook of the trip. There is a small stream near the tent sites but at this time of year it's a bit of a cesspool. Only 1 other hiker. Had the best sleep. Ellensbrook is also a free, non booking site.



Day 4 Monday 31/12Ellensbrook to Prevelly Beach Caravan Park

Another short day
out of necessity, only 13 km. Some of the campsites need to be booked on the C2C and given that this hike was a very last minute decision in peak holiday season places were booked out. Scored a tent spot at Prevelly at the 11th hour as a result of a cancellation. If I couldn't have got a spot there was another free site a few kms further on but it didn't have a water tank so would have been less than ideal. The walking today was a mix of inland tracks, a superb stretch of beach, a climb up cliffs overlooking a beautiful bay and finally a hike across the beach into Prevelly across the mouth of the Margaret River. In winter it’s a river crossing or a detour here- summer’s dry. There's lots of opportunity for swimming along this entire trek- I had my first swim for the week - just before the shark patrol helicopter got very interested in the next beach. Heard the shark sirens for the first time ever.

New Years Eve was spent at the caravan park- had the best ham and salad roll in my whole life and a decent coffee. After
First Beach SectionFirst Beach SectionFirst Beach Section

Small amount of sand walking only
pitching my tent ($19 for massive non powered site) hit the showers- not for the faint hearted. Whilst the water was hot and strong the daily cleaning hadn't been done yet (seriously... daily- I think cleaning just once a day in peak period is pretty subpar) . It was really grotty. Glad I had my crocs. The camp kitchen there was good with comfortable undercover tables and chairs, free gas and power, clean sinks, a big fridge and a book exchange. Lots of friendly people here to have a chat to. Swapped my book. After a big fat piece of chocolate peanut butter slice and another coffee I skipped dinner and was asleep by 20:30.



Day 5 Tuesday 1/1

Prevelly to Contos Campsite

Today was 20-ish km taking about 8 hours with multiple breaks. Largely inland tracks to start with through smoke haze (from a bushfire far away- I checked the DBCA/C2C Track warning links) culminating in the 600 step descent to Boodjidup Brook where there was still a bit of water and a lot of shade. Another tick for walking southbound- those stairs would be really hard work with a backpack! Really nice spot
for a shady break. Then onto Redgate Beach- soft sand but pristine coastline. The most amazing thing was seeing a penguin- and not any old penguin , but a rare Northern Rockhopper Penguin- well off course and later picked up by DBCA- utterly amazing! This took my mind of the rising temperatures in soft sand. From here it was over the rocks into the next bay and then through the very full carpark before heading back down to another beach stretch.... then back off the beach and onto sand tracks before arriving at Bob's Hollow. Bob's Hollow is quite a popular daywalker spot as you can rock hop, swim in pristine water and generally have a good explore. Access starts with a steep descent with chains. Sounds harder than it is- it's not too tricky but you need to be careful, especially if you have a full pack. I actually sat up on a tree branch for half an hour and ate my lunch in the shade before descending- a really nice sheltered spot.

At the base of the stairs you can go to the rocks and the beach, or like me just head on to the coastal caves. The track is quite eroded here and there is one steepish section where the steps have disintegrated. There's one massive cave that is popular to visit and provides shelter from the elements, in this case, the sun. Apparently there is a second cave a bit further on but I didn't look for it. Entering into the cave network itself is prohibited. The afternoon was sweating through the heathland (still no snakes but plenty of tracks). Finally, after what seemed like never ending enclosed bush track, a bench appeared oback out overlooking the coastline-the views of Contos Beach- so worth it. Very, very scenic.

Pitched at Contos campsite- this is a DBCA controlled campsite that you have to book online. The booking page showed that I had the second last spot but it was virtually empty in the section that I was allocated. It cost $12 (single camper)/night and had several concrete block drop loos with hand basins (!!!), water taps (all water needs to be treated, I used aquatabs) and a camp kitchen. Very nice quiet night under the peppermint trees. No signs of the camp possum.

Excellent start to 2019.

Day 6 Wednesday 2/1

Contos
to Hamelin Bay Caravan Park

A 22 km day. Started out overcast and cool- hooray. First part of the day was through the Boranup forest - so nice to be back amongst the big trees- the forest is definitely my comfort zone. Very easy walking with only a few hills to contend with. Out of the forest and back onto the coast and a long deserted beach walk into Hamelin Bay. Luckily the final 7km of beach was relatively firm. Passed by a few more people as I got closer to the caravan park then it was full on crowds. The Caravan Park was fully booked out but luckily they are big C2C supporters and found a tent spot for me. Kudos to the staff at the park- very friendly and enthusiastic. Clean showers, clean laundry, clean kitchen. Had a meat pie from their shop (supplied by the Augusta Bakery), a lousy coffee and a read of the paper while my clothes dried.

Hamelin Bay is a really picturesque destination, there are quite a few activities on offer- snorkelling, boating, swimming, etc. There are also a couple of walk trails on offer apart from the C2C. There are resident manta rays and very instagrammable scenic spots. Went for a walk in the afternoon... just because. Bumped into a father and son that I had met at Contos the night before, they had gone inland and walked to Hamelin via roads as the sand hiking was proving too much, they had decided to pull the pin and hitch into Augusta tomorrow missing the last days hiking. The other good thing about staying at Hamelin (apart from the food and the shower) is that you can leave your main pack there and pick it up later if you want to put in a big last day- when they found this out we hatched a plan that they would do this and I'd give them a lift into Augusta tomorrow from the lighthouse.

Slept very well (last tent night- boohoo) on my pretty expensive piece of land ($42/night).



Day 7 Thursday 3/1
Hamelin Bay to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

A 26km day for the last day of my hike. It was standout for many reasons. Blissfully cool and even a bit of rain. There was a lot of beach walking, it was 9km to reach the next campsite (Deepdene- also last opportunity to get more water) which I did really quickly despite the sand being a lot softer and tide higher today. It was also blowing a gale so got sandblasted in the sand dunes taking a breakfast break. I also had the father and son on my tail which sped me up- not that’s a competition! But I really do like hiking alone.

The rock hopping around the wild coast was superb, the waves were throwing off a lot of spray - really great section. Took a half hour lunch break 10 km later after a short inland stint. The father and son caught up with me (damn), but overtook for a while. I then caught them up again as they were debating which way to go. I managed to pass them - full of confidence that my way was the right way- they weren't convinced.

Then... the final push with the lighthouse getting closer and closer. The last km or so before the lighthouse was interesting in its own right with lots of rock pools, limestone cliffs dripping water and the historic water wheel. Touched the lighthouse after 6 hrs of walking (if
you are a C2C E2E walker they let you into the complex for free). Luckily my car was where I had left it and after a short while the father and son appeared. I drove us all back to Hamelin Bay to collect the packs and then back into Augusta for a celebratory coffee!!

All in all a great week, it’d be awesome to do in the winter or the wildflower season (but with that would be a lot more walkers). I was very lucky with the weather, particularly for those last two days. I loved that I didn't get fried to a crisp. I really loved the fact that I didn't get bitten by a snake. I really enjoyed the pristine coastline. Difficulty factor in a southbound direction? With a pack in these temperatures it was pretty hard work at times. I'd say about the same as the beach stretches on the Bibb Track really. If you were just carrying a day pack it's very achievable and you could chop a day or so off (if you really wanted to). I really enjoyed the physical challenge, it’s good to feel strong, independent and accomplished.



Resources:

The Capes Guidebook https://walkingtwobytwo.com/2018/06/20/the-capes-guidebook-on-the-cape-to-cape/

Cape to Cape Maps https://shop.dbca.wa.gov.au/collections/maps/products/cape-to-cape-map-pack

Friends of the Cape to Cape http://www.capetocapetrack.com.au/

Prevelly Caravan Park http://prevellycaravanpark.com.au/

DBCA Campsite Bookings https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/conto-campground

Hamelin Bay Caravan Park https://hamelinbayholidaypark.com.au/


Additional photos below
Photos: 76, Displayed: 32


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Quininup FallsQuininup Falls
Quininup Falls

A slight detour off the C2C is the falls area- would be very speccy in winter


Tot: 3.017s; Tpl: 0.068s; cc: 22; qc: 86; dbt: 0.0742s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb