Cape to Cape, WA

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Written by Lucie, photos mostly by Simon

At the start of May 2021, Lucie and Simon B walked the northern half of the Cape to Cape in Western Australia.

The trail is a popular and well-signed coastal path in the Margaret River area (approximately 3 hours’ drive south of Perth). We hiked north to south, which meant we would have the sun on our backs, but the prevailing wind in our faces.

Day one

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to Mount Duckworth Campsite, 11km

We set out from Perth in the late morning and drove to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, just west of Dunsborough. We parked at the lighthouse car park and started walking at 3:30pm.

The first couple of kilometres of trail are wheelchair accessible, either as a sealed path or boardwalk. It travels through low coastal scrub and there are lovely views of the coast.

After 3.5km, we reached the Sugar Loaf lookout and car park. The trail then becomes narrow and sandy. There were lots of tiny lizards and birds around.

The ocean, a sandy beach and a cliff.

We kept going and after 6km (total) we reached a car park above Kabbijgup Beach. There were lots of surfers in the waves below. At this point we descended some stairs and started along the beach. Even though we only had to walk 370m on the beach it was quite hard, because the sand was very soft and sloping. Before we reached the end of the beach, we saw the path climbing up the dunes and got back onto a less sandy (but still sandy) cliff path.

The cliffs and rocks were very interesting to look at, and may have been dotted with petrified trees. It reminded Lucie of the petrified forest, near Cape Bridgewater on the Great South West Walk in south western Victoria.

Sunset over the ocean.

As we walked the sun set and we walked the last 2km in the growing dark. Fortunately, the path was wide and reasonably flat, although there were a few rocks to trip over.

We reached Mount Duckworth Campsite just as full dark hit us. We pitched our tent, found the toilet and water tank and cooked our dinner at a picnic table. We could see some stars through the trees and then, it was time to get ready for bed.

Day two

Mount Duckworth Campsite to Moses Rock Campsite, 23km

We got up just before dawn. There were a few drops of rain so we quickly packed the tent while it was still dry, although the rain never amounted to anything. While we were getting ready a fox wandered through camp.

A red fox surrounded by trees.
Foxy!

We set off and after a couple of kilometres we reached the small town of Yallingup. Yallingup has several nice walking tracks and some caves that are popular tourist attractions. We stopped next to a statue on the coast path, put on sunscreen and then kept walking south.

Our first challenge of the day was to walk along Smith’s Beach, which is a bit shy of 2km long. The sand was not as soft as at Kabbijgup Beach but the extra distance made it equally tiring. There were lots of people enjoying the beach and the water and Simon bumped into a colleague.

Next, we climbed up the hill and had a good vantage point of Canal Rocks. We continued along and bumped into our support crew, who had been out to the Rocks. We were about 9km in so we stopped for a snack and a chat and put on our rain coasts because it was drizzling. However, the coats didn’t stay on for long because the next thing was to climb up the cliff to follow along the path.

Big red rocks, green scrub and the ocean.
Looking out towards Canal Rocks

Along this path we stopped for lunch. Lucie found a comfortable looking log that was off the trail and had a nice view. She happily sat down and had her lunch. Simon sat for a very short time but didn’t think it was very comfortable. They joked that there would probably be something better just around the corner. While we ate, we watched a big spider eat a redback spider and then a bee, and a tiny mantis was wandering around.

After lunch, we kept walking and about 2 minutes long the path was a bench! Lucie thought it was very funny, Simon wasn’t sure whether it was funny or annoying.

A bench looking out over the ocean.
Wouldn’t this have been a nice spot for lunch?

A little way on and it was time for the waterproof outer layers to come out again. This time they stayed on. It poured with rain for the rest of the afternoon! As we walked along the exposed coastal path there was thunder and lightning and the waves were being whipped up into a frenzy. Lucie kept running ahead and then would stop and wait under a little cluster of trees.

We frog hopped a few other hikers including some multiday campers and an organised group that were being picked up at the end of each day and taken to a town for dinner and a bed.

We then reached Indijup Beach. We walked along and at Quininup Brook we paused, a bit uncertain of which way the path went and not keen to get the map out in the rain. In front of us, the brook had joined up with the ocean and with the waves coming in quite high it looked like it would be a pretty wet crossing. We could see footsteps going inland along the brook, but the marker suggested straight on. Just as we were deliberating the best course of action that would minimise the chance of wet feet (although to be far, it was raining so hard that we were starting to get a bit soggy anyway) the guided group caught up to us and the guide confirmed that it was, indeed, straight over. We waited for the waves to recede, jumped over the brook as best we could and ran 10m further to avoid getting soaked by the next wave.

We turned up a path a short distance further and took the 300m detour to see Quininup Falls. The Falls were pretty and apparently they are often dry at that time of year so we accepted that the rain was good for something. Simon was happy that he hadn’t tackled a step, sandy path for nothing!

A small waterfall coming over red rocks into a small pool.
Quininup Falls

From the Falls we had another 4.5km to go until we reached camp (we’d done about 19km by this point). The path was mostly along boardwalks and climbed up and down a bit. By now, Lucie was feeling very wet and cold – the wind was blowing rain straight into her face and it had been running down her neck so that she was getting wet under the rain jacket! She decided to run on ahead so that she could (hopefully) get dry at camp.

Just before camp she met a fellow hiker on a dirt track with two black bags carrying all his things. He’d pitched his tent but it was leaking so he was calling it quits and had phoned someone to come and pick him up. We could see the car, unfortunately it was on a different dirt track. After a bit of map work, we figured out a solution for him to get picked up and Lucie walked the last little bit into camp. The rain stopped, she met some other hikers and got changed into warm gear, which made her instantly a LOT happier.

Simon arrived and we pitched the tent and cooked dinner while a quenda (southern brown bandicoot) scurried around looking for scraps. Afterwards, we spread out our wet things and fell asleep listening to the waves crashing against the cliffs nearby.

Day three

Moses Rock Campsite to Ellensbrook Campsite, 19km

We woke to a dry morning and took our time getting ready while our wet things dried off in the morning sun, spread across various bushes.

The path out of camp seemed to be going back on itself (past the toilet and towards the cliff), but it soon turned south and we were walking along a sandy cliff path, dropping down and climbing back up with the contours of the cliff.

It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed walking through shoulder or head height coastal scrub.

We walked through patches of trees, crossed a tiny creek, and dropped down to the beach and walked along sand. The map, very sneakily, did not show this as beach walking because we were tucked behind a dune, but it was definitely beach walking. Simon was particularly unimpressed.

When we were back up on the cliff path we came across a bench and a lovely view and stopped for a snack and to apply sunscreen. The rest of the morning was really nice. It was warm and sunny, all our things dried completely, the views were lovely and the path was quite fun to walk along. We passed several shark warning systems (i.e. massive loud speakers) on the cliff.

As we neared Gracetown, we got onto rocky terrain, with boulders and a little creek to cross. The last bit into town was a steep rocky cliff that we climbed around. We met our support crew, had a long and late lunch on the beach, about 12.5km from Moses Rock Campsite, and restocked on food.

Simon left his pack in the car and we walked along the cliff path towards Ellensbrook. We made great time through the low scrub, met a small snake, watched the surfers and reached Ellensbrook House, where Simon was reunited with his pack.

A low, farm-style building in a green field and a kangaroo nearby.
Ellensbrook House + roo

The path through the Ellensbrook House property is mostly paved, there were some signs about the (white) history of the region and we saw a very large kangaroo. We passed Meekadarabee Falls and reached Ellensbrook Campsite, which was the first place we’d been to where we couldn’t hear the ocean. We pitched our tent, had dinner and spent a long time listening to the sounds of animals in the trees and looking up at the stars.

Day four

Ellensbrook Campsite to Prevelley, 11km, to Margaret River town, 8km

Lucie woke up feeling well rested, Simon apparently was less well rested and had gone on a night time excursion back to Ellensbrook House!

After breakfast, we headed south along a dirt track through some low trees. The path then zigzagged across the cliff side, with head height scrub, dotted with large boulders which felt like they could have been old temple statues, left behind by an ancient civilisation.

We reached Kilcarnup road, which is where the Cape to Cape track splits – an inland road route is used for winter and spring, when Margaret River is flowing into the ocean and the coastal route that we took because the river was closed to the ocean.

We made it down to Joeys Nose, at Kilcarnup Beach and had a snack in the shade of a very big rock. Then, we struck out across the sand for two and a bit kilometres. It was very warm and there was no shade, even after we’d left the beach and climbed up the cliff path. We walked along the rocky cliff, peering down to some lovely little coves. We could see Prevelly and just about hear the loud-speaker commentary of a surfing competition.

We dropped down to the beach at Prevelley and walked past the end of Margaret River, closed off by a big sand bank. We sat at an oversized picnic bench overlooking the beach and had lunch, roughly 11km from Ellensbrook Campsite.

We then walked up Walcliffe Road, but instead of turning right to follow the Cape to Cape southbound, we kept walking inland, backtracking along the inland that is used to bypass the Margaret River crossing. We then left the Cape to Cape track altogether and kept walking along Walcliffe Road towards Margaret River town. There was a walking and cycling path (concrete) next to the road so it wasn’t too bad, although it wasn’t as fun as the actual track. We walked through lots of very tall trees and saw many kangaroos and black cockatoos (red- and white-tailed).

We reached Margaret River town 7km later and finished our adventure.

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