Access For More Trail
Start - Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
Finish - Sugarloaf Rock Car Park
Length - 3.4km (One Way)
Grade - Green
Terrain - Pavement
Vertical Climb - 20m
Time - 1-2 Hours
Signed - Follow the Cape to Cape Markers
Date Hiked - 16th September 2020
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Wardandi People
Directions - Located north of Dunsborough, follow the signs towards the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse along Cape Naturaliste Road until you reach the end. The trail head is located on the western side of the car park with a large information board telling you about the various trails in the area.
The Hike - Finding good quality and picturesque trails that are wheelchair friendly in WA is a bit of a hard ask so it's nice to know that one has been specifically designed that takes in some stunning coastline near Dunsborough. The Access for More Trail also coincides with the first section of the famous Cape to Cape Track so makes for a gentle start to proceedings if you're tackling the week long journey (or at the very least a paved uphill finish). Starting at the iconic Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, you can explore the history of the lighthouse by paying a fee for entry or just find the large information board and get going.
Starting at the lighthouse end means a gentle downhill from about 100m above sea level down to the edge of the water at Sugarloaf Rock. There are a few trails in the area including the Cape Naturaliste Track and Cape to Cape so make sure you follow the Cape to Cape markers as this trail makes up the first section leading down the hill. The coastal landscape is made up of low lying shrubland that outside of wildflower season (late winter to late spring) looks pretty uniform in appearance and colour. During those magical months the coastal heath comes alive with all sorts of different colours, shapes and interesting features. Some of my favourite wildflowers you'll see early on this walk are the Native Rose, Old Man's Beard and Native Geranium. While the spectacular ocean views take a while to appear, this initial stretch is great to slow down and have a look at what you can find in the undergrowth as not all wildflowers are right in your face. I also love watching for bees and once you start to slow down and notice the details, a hidden world opens up before your eyes.
Once the ocean views appear, the walk becomes even more enjoyable thanks to the stunning scenery of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park that runs up and down the coast. The main feature of this walk is the eventual end point and obvious attention point of Sugarloaf Rock. An icon of the South West region, its unique shape is the centrepiece of many a photo and is a drawcard for people visiting Dunsborough. I like that for most of the trail you are heading in its direction with the trail, the ocean and the rock all together in most shots. Switching between pavement and boardwalk, you arrive at the first of a few strategically placed lookouts, this one being the Wilanup Lookout. Being on the edge of the cliffs you get a much better view looking down towards the rocky shore and the dramatic rock formations below. I love watching the waves crash into the rocks and thinking about what goes into making the interesting patterns and shapes over thousands of years. From here you also get some better views of Sugarloaf Rock and can see the second half of the walk as it winds along the coastline.
The lookout marks the start of a flatter section where instead of staring down from the hills, you get some great views looking back up them. With partly cloudy conditions the play of light and shadow was creating an idyllic scene as the hills stretched up towards the sky. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that the green hills stretched on forever and that's the beauty of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, a natural space protected from the development that is forever expanding in this region. The wildflowers through here continue to be excellent with little rock gardens scattered next to the trail that are home to many different varieties including Fanflowers, Candlesticks, Coastal Banjine and Boronia. While most of the trail has been a gentle downhill or flat, it does rise a little but the gradient is never that great due to the need to be wheelchair friendly. In spring keep an eye out for White Spider Orchids that line the edge of the trail in small groupings. I've always found that the first one is hard to spot but once you have seen it, all of a sudden you start spotting plenty more in the same area with ease.
A smattering of Grass Trees through this rise is a real highlight and if you're keen for an off-track explore then there is a rocky outcrop that provides some excellent views looking up and down the rugged coastline. Hidden among the rocks I found a few Donkey Orchids and back on the boardwalk section there were some Milkmaids and Cocky's Tongue. With the end getting much closer, it's all downhill to the finish at the Sugarloaf Rock Car Park. A large information board can be found near the new toilet block that marks the official end. I found it a bit curious that for a wheelchair friendly trail, it ends at Sugarloaf Rock as the lookout that you use to get the close up views of the main event can only be accessed via a set of stairs. I guess they had to finish it at an easy to access location and hopefully in the future they will rectify this to provide the full experience. With the trail ending here you can head back up the way you came or if you've organised a car shuffle, head into Dunsborough and grab a well earned coffee or bite to eat.
Final Thoughts - As I said before, wheelchair friendly trails are not something in great supply in WA with Big Brook Dam being one of the other longer and more prettier trails in the South West.
Exploring the start of the iconic Cape to Cape makes for some stunning scenery that this part of the world is famous for and it's great that it can be shared by all.
If you're after a nice relaxing trail near Dunsborough filled with great views, wildflowers and some wow moments then look no further than the Access for More Trail.
Get out there and experience it!
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