Bald Head Walk Trail
Torndirrup National Park
Directions - From the centre of Albany take Frenchman Bay Road into Torndirrup National Park until you reach Salmon Hole Road. Take a right here and then take a left onto Murray Road. The Bald Head Walk Trail starts at the top of a gravel road that comes off Murray Road (it is well signposted), where you'll find a small car park.
2022 Update - The trail is now open after a lengthy revitalisation project to address erosion issues and protect the fragile environment along the peninsula. This should see Bald Head continue to be one of the best trails in the state, along with being able to handle the increased visitor numbers.
The Hike - One of the best day hikes in Western Australia, Bald Head is a trail that I first hiked way back in 2015 when it was only known to locals and the only information you could find online was a short write up with a couple of photos. Fast forward to late 2020 and thanks to the rise of Instagram, an increase in popularity of hiking and a travel ban forcing many people to explore their own backyards, Bald Head is a mainstay on a lot of the WA tourism accounts. Over the years my original page for this hike has received a bit of traffic as it's well searched for online but as with most of my early posts, it didn't have a lot of depth and the photos really only showcased the first half of the hike.
With that in mind, it was always my plan to completely re-do the page and hike this one again on my Spring 2020 Road Trip. With many other hikes planned for my Albany leg of the trip, I moved this one to my last full day here because I wanted the best day of weather put aside for my trip to Two Peoples Bay and Mount Martin. Coincidently this also meant that I would repeat the same experience that I had on my first trip here where I would spend the morning at my accommodation enjoying a cooked breakfast and Game One of the NBA Finals. Due to the madness of 2020, the dates were a little bit different with the NBA season being postponed and then finally completed in October instead of mid-June. This year it was the Miami Heat facing the LeBron led Lakers and after a pretty entertaining start it all fizzled out when Goran Dragić and Bam Adebayo left the game with injuries and the Lakers won comfortably. With a full belly, a few coffees under my belt and the game finished, I packed up my gear and drove out to Torndirrup National Park to tackle what has been a favourite hike of mine since I first visited way back in 2015. I was last here in 2019 after finishing my sectional end to end of the Bibbulmun Track but only walked a short section before deciding to visit the nearby Peak Head Walk Trail as I could do that one in its entirety before sunset (and what a good decision that was).
Reaching the car park I was a little bemused that it was very busy and in the end I had to park about halfway down the entry road due to the lack of space. As I said before, it's not surprising given the popularity of Bald Head these days and it was during the September school holidays so understandable that it was busy. The weather for my visit was not ideal thanks to the onset of some cold, windy and wet conditions that would last the duration of my trip along the south coast. While it wasn't raining, the grey conditions posed some issues with dull lighting and the fierce wind didn't help when photographing the wildflowers. Nevertheless, I did say in my old post that I thought this would still be a great experience if the weather was terrible so today I would be testing that theory out to a certain degree. The trail head was a little busy with a couple of groups getting in the way of a clear photo (first photo above is from the finish) and I really hoped that I would get some clear stretches to enjoy the trail to myself. Starting the uphill slog, it's a pretty brutal way to begin the trail but is a good indication of what to expect for the whole 12.4km return trip. Enjoying the Peppermint lined undergrowth, this spot is really good for wildflowers and orchids with a few good finds straight away thanks to some Cowslip Orchids and Milk Maids.
Reaching the granite slopes of Isthmus Hill pretty quickly, I was starting to feel the excitement and sense of wonder that this trail provides. The quick 60m vertical ascent gives you some stunning views looking back towards Albany and down at Salmon Holes Beach, a popular spot to visit thanks to the fishing and sheltered location. Knowing what was coming and that the views here would be much better on the return leg thanks to sun being lower in the sky, I skipped across the granite towards the location that is the most photographed of the entire hike. Weaving through some undergrowth, I slowed down here to take in the wildflowers lining the trail that included the only Donkey Orchids I saw on the trail. Rounding a corner, I got my first glimpse of the money shot with the full length view of the Flinders Peninsula visible. Last time I was here I remember being completely in awe of this spot again and thinking to myself that the magic had not disappeared with time. Visiting trails again after exploring a wide collection of hikes can sometimes bring them down a notch or two when you start comparing them to other experiences but Bald Head had lost none of the lustre.
From the top of the hill here you can see the trail snaking up and over the limestone ridges of the peninsula and it looks simply stunning. To be able to trace in your mind where you will be headed in the next half hour or so filled me with delight and stopping every couple of steps to photograph it from a different angle did nothing to tamper that. Descending down the hill, the banksias through here are a real feature and I was lucky to find some still in flower. They provide a great foreground object to some of the wider shots of the water on either side and when you get up close to one, they are beautifully intricate in their shapes and colours. Reaching the bottom of the hill (you drop about 80m vertically here), the bulk of the peninsula ahead is quite a formidable sight. You get to a point where there is a trail junction and the opportunity to access the beach to the right. I figured if I had enough time on the way back I would visit but for now I was keen to keep going while the weather was still good. Around this point you start to get views of the great granite wall to your right as it extends from Isthmus Hill down into the ocean below. It's a sizeable piece of bare rock and one that is a feature I photographed from various angles all along the hike.