As an aid to walking the Cape to Cape Track, I used – ” The Cape to Cape Track Guidebook,” written by Jane Scott and Ray Forma.
How long to walk the Cape to Cape?
I walked the trail over six days, the shortest day was 19kms, the longest day 27kms, this meant I was on the track each day from around 8am until mid afternoon with a mandatory 20 minute cuppa for morning tea and 30 minutes for lunch. These reasonable daily distances meant the walk never became a slog and allowed plenty of time to photograph the abundant scenery and beautiful flora and fauna, as well as allowing time for a daily swim at the superlative beaches of the Capes Region.
What time of year to walk the Cape to Cape?
I chose to walk the trail in late October to increase the chance of seeing reptiles, and decrease the chance of wet days. Although of course, there are still wet days in October this far South in Western Australia. The peak walking time seems to be August to September, coinciding with the peak flowering period on the track. Flowers however, were still plentiful in October when I walked.
Which direction is best to walk the Cape to Cape?
The biggest consideration were the long beach walks at Boranup and Deepdene Beaches at the Southern end of the track. This was something I wanted to build up to, rather than encounter at the beginning of the trek. The prevailing weather comes from the Southwest which meant I would be walking into it. This wasn’t a major issue at the time of year I walked, but maybe in the peak months of August to September it would be good to have the wind and rain coming from behind?
Where to stay on the Cape to Cape Track?
I choose a mixture of camping and track accommodation. Where possible I stayed in a soft bed, surmising that after a good nights sleep the walking the following day would be more enjoyable. Sometimes however, due to location this was not always possible. These nights I camped, and to be fair the most memorable nights on the track were the ones I camped.
A wonderful thing about the Cape to Cape track was being allowed to camp anywhere along it’s length (common sense being applied.) Conto and Point Road Campgrounds are run by Parks and Wildlife and charge a small fee. Conto Campground is usually the busier with good facilities, Point Road is more rustic but is in an amazing location in the heart of the Boranup Forest.
Friday 30th October
I finished work early Friday afternoon to join bumper to bumper freeway traffic driving South for the weekend. The weather was atrocious, as I drove South on the Forrest Highway heavy rain was sheeting sideways and I thought to myself not for the first time “is this a good idea?” especially in fact of my recent knee arthroscopy six months previously.
I was staying the Friday night at “Nooranoorabin” my friend Gordon’s property next to the Boranup Forest. It was Gordon who had planted the seed for this adventure as he had previously walked the Cape to Cape and spoke very highly of the experience, indeed it was only with Gordon’s help that the logistics of the walk had become a reality.
Turning off the Bussell Highway onto Sebbes Road I found plenty of Motorbike Frogs (Litoria moorei) and Green Tree Frogs (Litoria adelaidensis) enjoying the wet conditions. It was lovely to be down in the crisp fresh air of the Southwest but the heavy rain on the roof of the cottage during the night provoked conflicting emotions.
Day 1 – Saturday 31st October Cape Naturaliste to Injidup cliffs 24kms
The following morning Gordon dropped me at the start of my walk at Cape Naturaliste, where despite the still cold conditions there were glimpses of sunshine.
I had obligatory photos at the Northern Terminus signing the track book then it was time to start walking with Gordon accompanying me for the first 15 minutes. It wasn’t long before we came across the first reptile of the walk a Bobtail Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) soaking up what little sun there was trackside.
Approaching Sugarloaf Rock I disturbed a Dugite (Pseudonaja affinis) which disappeared into the undergrowth before I could reach for the camera.
Walking along the clifftop path the day slowly began to warm and the coastal views were truly breathtaking, I could just make out Yallingup Township in the distance which provided a benchmark for the mornings walk.
What a View!
Morning tea at Mt Duckworth Campsite amongst the shady Tea Trees provided an opportunity to trial my new jetboil stove, and after a tasty (but definitely not nutritious) pot noodle and a cuppa it was time to continue Southwards
Yallingup Township provided the sole opportunity during the first two days on the track to access mains water so I made the most of the situation and topped up at the amenities block. It was by now a hot day and there were plenty of people around enjoying the beach.
South of Yallingup I passed the impressive Torpedo Rocks then onto the first of many beach walks along Smiths Beach. It became apparent that walking the Cape to Cape was going to provide an opportunity to see some beautiful places that I would not have seen but for undertaking the walk. The track then climbed over rocky terrain South of Smiths Beach before passing Canal Rocks, I had hoped to photograph Canal Rocks but the track passes too far behind them (quite a climb) to realise this without diverting.
Rocky Terrain South of Smiths Beach.
The next beach walk was along beautiful Injidup Beach and here I had my first swim while walking the track. The only rule I had made for walking the Cape to Cape was to maximise the opportunity the track provided for swimming. I had trunks with me but it seemed silly to go through the hassle of changing into trunks when there wasn’t a soul around, so the tradition of swimming every day, became the tradition of skinny dipping every day!
Leaving Indijup Beach the day was drawing to close and I knew it was time to start looking for somewhere to pitch the tent for the night. I was hesitant to erect it on the track which at this point was a 4WD track so I chose a clearing under some Tea Trees at the side of the track.
Camp for the Night under the Tea Trees.
Once the tent was up and dinner was sorted I had some daytime left so I sat on top of the nearby cliffs to enjoy sunset. It was very relaxing to have time to sit and do nothing but enjoy the solitude. However once darkness had fallen with no company it was time to turn in for the night.
Day 2 – Sunday 1st November Injidup cliffs to Gracetown 22.5kms
I woke early and after breakfast it was time to strike camp, put the backpack on and make tracks. As I walked the 4WD track along the clifftops I hoped for reptiles but it was too early in the morning and still a little cold for there to be any around yet, there were however good remnants of the spring flowers still around with Fan Flowers and Pimelea prominent.
Cape to Cape Track as a 4WD Track.
Far out to sea from my vantage point high on the cliffs I could see Humpback Whales swimming South to Antarctica after visiting their calving grounds in the North of the State on their annual migration.
The track descends down to Quinninup Beach before a hard climb up the sand dune on the South side of Qunninup Brook. Approaching Moses Rock, I saw my first and only mammal of the walk a Western Grey Kangaroo briefly before it bounded off into the surrounding bush.
The area around Moses Rock was buzzing with surfers and I delighted in seeing Dolphins surfing the break close to the beach. I got good views of my first Emu Wren here in the heath, and as I stepped into the heath to try and get a photo I disturbed what was almost certainly my first Southern Heath Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) of the walk.
The day had warmed and the sun was out as I descended and crossed Willyabrup Beach. South of here was my favourite part of the walk so far at the imposing Willyabrup Cliffs. I was meeting Gordon at the end of the day, but I was ahead of time, so I sat on the orange litchen stained rocks of the cliffs and watched the resident South West Crevice Skinks (Egernia napoleonsis) soaking up the sun.
S.W Crevice Skink.
It was a good job that I was rested because after filling my water at Biljedup Brook it was a hard climb up the wooden stairs on the South side of the valley in the hot sun. There were people abseiling at the Southern end of the cliffs again opening my eyes to the variety of people using the Capes area for recreational activities.
The Steep Climb out of Biljedup Brook Valley.
I finally got eyes on a Southern Heath Monitor that was hunting along the track between Cullens Beach and Veryiuca Brook.
Southern Heath Monitor.
As I approached Gracetown the end of the days walk the weather clouded over and the waves picked up, I ran into Gordon 15 minutes from Gracetown and we walked the final part of the day together. Gordon then dropped me at Gracetown Caravan Park which was a considerable distance inland and would have been an effort to walk to after the previous two day hike.
See link for accommodation at Gracetown Caravan Park – Caravan park accommodation Margaret River – Gracetown Caravan Park
Other reptiles seen this day :- Bobtail Lizard.
Day 3 -Monday 2nd November Gracetown to Prevally 19kms
Refreshed after a good night sleep in a soft bed the owner of the caravan park kindly dropped me back in Gracetown for day three of the walk. The morning was cool as the weak cold front that had passed the Capes the previous evening moved inland.
As I walked around Cowaramup Point I could again see Humpback Whales far off the coast and I felt a rapport with these travellers as we both headed South on long journeys. The walk down the coast to Ellensbrook Homestead was not especially interesting as the heath adjacent to the path was high and obscured views for much of the way, also the day was still gloomy and cold and so the chance of reptiles was small. The only wildlife of note was a Kestrel hovering for a meal on the approach to the homestead.
On reaching Ellensbrook Homestead my lunch stop for the day the sun started to come out lifting my spirits. The homestead was a lovely place for a break with plenty to explore including the homestead buildings themselves, the creek behind them and Meekadarabee Cave a short walk inland.
See link for Ellensbrook Homestead – https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/ellensbrook/
Ascending the valley South of Ellensbrook there was a profusion of flowers in the woodland including Hibbertia, Coral Vine, Rose Banjine and Twining Flame Pea. Inside the National Park boundary at the top of the ridge there were extensive views down to Cape Mentelle, descending sandy Gnoocardup Plain I delighted in finding a Kangaroo Paw flowering next to the track.
The day had by now reached its 22C forecast high so I was jubilant to reach Kilcarnup Beach with the distinctive rock formation “Joey’s Nose,” an easily recognisable feature of the limestone cliffs behind the beach. I didn’t hesitate to get into the water for maybe the most refreshing swim of the walk in the cool sheltered sandy area between the rocks.
Walking on I came across a very sizable King’s Skink (Egernia Kingii) on the rocks and there was a plenitude of sea birds around the Cape Mentelle area including Pied Oystercatcher, Greater Crested Tern, Great Cormorants, and on the rocky headland of Cape Mentelle itself an Osprey sitting on its nest. A Stingray in the shallows provided another highlight of the day.
As the afternoon drew to a close I traversed the large soft sand dune North of the mouth of the Margaret River and narrowly avoided landing in the drink. Lastly, I crossed the sand bar at the river mouth before a short walk up through the suburb of Prevally Village took me to my accommodation for the night at Prevally Caravan Park.
See link for accomodation at Prevally Caravan Park – Drop in on the simple life – Prevelly Caravan Park
Back in touch with civilisation I discovered a welcome text on my phone from Gordon offering to pick me up and take me to Margaret River township for food, an offer too good to refuse!
Other reptiles seen this day :- Bobtail Lizard, Southern Heath Monitor.
Day 4 – Tuesday 3rd November Prevally to Boranup Forest 21kms
The following morning it was time to attend to my increasingly blistered feet if I was to complete the Cape to Cape so with the kit kindly provided by fellow pharmacist and experienced walker Sue Edwards I dressed my blisters before setting off.
I had slept well the previous night in my double bed at the chalet, the sun was shining and as I walked Prevally Ridge, for the first time I really delighted in being on the track. Maybe it was down to the fact that I had by now fallen into a definite routine, maybe it was because I had passed the halfway mark at Prevally or maybe it was because I was now sure of what I could comfortably walk in a day but life was looking good!
The walk during the morning was along Prevally Ridge and it wasn’t long before I found a Southern Heath Monitor in basking position making the most of the sun, further along a couple of Rainbow Bee-eaters provided a welcome break as I watched them hunt from their perch above the heath.
I was definitely glad to be heading South as I descended the 300+ steps into Boodjidup Valley and to one of my favourite spots on the track. Here by the bridge across Boojidup Brook was a bench amongst the shade provided by tall trees.
The vegetation was mainly Arum Lily’s which although an invasive pest added to the charm of this lovely area. Native Wisteria was also present climbing along the metal bridge crossing the brook. I lingered a while here exploring and relaxing knowing that I had a hard beach walk that afternoon.
The beach walk was 2km of hard graft in the soft sand although both Red-capped Plovers and Hooded Dotterels provided something to look at as I trudged along. I was rewarded by a cool dip amongst the rocks at the end of the beach before traversing the rocky headland and crossing the stunning Redgate Beach.
Common Bristle Daisy.
South of Redgate Beach the terrain was familiar to me having done day walks with the Rainbow Warriors along this stretch of the track. I recognised the Tea Tree thicket South of the beach, Bob’s Hollow and finally the imposing Contos Cliffs where I rendez voued with Gordon who escorted me down the track into the Boranup Forest where I was to set up for the night at Point Road Campground.
See link for camping at Point Road Campground – Point Road Campground | Explore Parks WA | Parks and Wildlife Service (dpaw.wa.gov.au)
Gordon on Contos Cliffs.
Contos Cliffs and Beach.
Once the tent was up and Gordon had left for the night I had some time to wander the Boranup Forest and enjoy the ambience of the warm Spring evening. There was a mob of Emus foraging near to the campsite and during the walk I disturbed a couple of Tiger Snakes (Notechis scutatus) as well as a Heath Monitor.
Camp in the Boranup Forest.
Despite the quiet of the campground I found it difficult to sleep but eventually I drifted off to the sounds of the rustling Peppermints.
Other reptiles seen this day :- Bobtail Lizard.
Day 5 -Wednesday 4th November Boranup Forest to Hamelin Bay 21kms
As I ate breakfast and struck camp the mob of Emus from the previous night made an appearance around the campsite to find their breakfast.
Emu in the Boranup Forest.
I started early on the track to enjoy a cool morning walk through the Karri Forest. There were plenty of Sun-scented Orchids growing alongside the track with both the regular blue colour and the rarer pink morph of this species represented. Other plants flowering on the walk were Hibbertia, Fan Flowers, White Marianthus and Pink Fairy Orchids.
Pink Sun-scented Orchid.
Cape to Cape Track through the Karri Forest.
Red Wattlebird on Bull Banksia.
The track was a delight to walk and I was thoroughly enjoying myself when out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention. A Carpet Python (Morelia spilota) warming itself in the morning sun! Without doubt the highlight of the walk.
I spent over an hour observing and photographing this exquisite snake. A fellow walker from Point Road had an anxious moment when she saw me sprawled on the track without realising what I was doing and thought she had a medical emergency on her hands.
Climbing up out of the forest to Boranup Hill got the pulse rate up but I had a nice break on the lookout tower on the hilltop. Then as I descended towards Boranup Beach I could see a definite cold front darkening the sky in the distance out to sea. As I reached the beach and with a 6.5km beach walk ahead of me it was unclear whether I would reach Hamelin Bay before the inclement weather.
A Cold Front Approaches the Capes.
The beach walk was a hard slog (I was definitely beginning to dislike the beach walking aspect of the Cape to Cape!) and the wind and waves progressively picked up as I nearer Hamelin Bay. I managed a quick dip but didn’t venture out too far in such conditions.
I was happy to arrive at my destination for the night Hamelin Bay Holiday Park and I checked into my cabin, showered and was elated to be out of the elements.
See link for accommodation at Hamelin Bay Caravan Park – Home (hamelinbayholidaypark.com.au)
Other reptiles seen this day :- Southern Heath Monitor.
Day 6 – Thursday 5th November Hamelin Bay to Cape Leeuwin 27kms
My final day on the track was made easier by the folk at the caravan park kindly storing my backpack for the day which meant I was walking with minimum weight. This was especially good because today I was covering the greatest number of kilometres, also the day consisted of the longest beach walk Deepdene Beach at 7kms in length.
The Remains of Hamelin Jetty.
It was cold in the morning but the weather had certainly improved from the previous afternoon. I passed White Cliff Point then after a brief beach walk I ascended to Foul Bay Lighthouse on a bush track. I disturbed a few Tiger Snakes on this path but unfortunately didn’t get any decent views.
Cosy Corner provided a challenge rock hopping over the solution holes accompanied by the loud “blows” from the ocean below. I then crossed Cape Hamelin to confront my nemesis Deepdene Beach!
The weather by now was very overcast and it wasn’t a particularly interesting 7km walk along the beach, although I was glad to note the sand was much firmer than any of the other beach walks due to the receding tide. Missing the track exit at the Southern end of Deepdene was a particular concern due to inattention on such a long beach walk and it took some conviction to push on despite doubts I had gone too far.
I found the exit at the South end of Deepdene but even then, there was more walking on sand, as I first ascended then descended a big dune as the track left the beach. From here a 4WD drive track climbs onto Augusta Cliffs for the final assault on Cape Leeuwin.
The weather was degenerating further and squally showers were visible out to sea so I quickened my pace to cover ground before the inevitable rain. Even with the bad weather there were still reptiles around with a King’s Skink seen and a West Coast Morethia Skink (Morethia lineoocellata) on a log.
West Coast Morethia Skink.
It was a shame that it was necessary to rush the end of the trek because the rock formations around Quarry Bay and the Leeuwin Waterwheel were features that I would have liked to have spent more time exploring had the weather been better.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Leeuwin Waterwheel.
See also other long distance walks undertaken here :-
Within 15 minutes of the end of the walk the rain came in. I was extremely lucky considering the torrential rain on the drive down the previous Friday for this to be the only rain experienced during the six days.
Finished at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse!
Other reptiles seen this day :- S.W. Crevice Skink, Dugite, Bobtail Lizard.
I was extremely proud to have completed the Cape to Cape but was happy to have have finished walking. The whole walk was enjoyable but the highlights for me were Willyabrup Cliffs, Kilcarnup Beach, Boojidup Brook, and of course the Boranup Forest with its spectacular Carpet Python!
Gordon picked me up at Cape Leeuwin and from there it was back to Hamelin Bay to pick up my backpack (via the bottleshop at Augusta) and then to Nooranoorabin for a hearty meal and good company in the form of both Gordon and Craig. #NatureNeverFailsToImpress!