Torbay to Muttonbird
24th September 2019
The Hike - With 17km under my belt already, I had earned a bit of a break from the midday sun so spent a decent amount of time relaxing at Torbay Campsite. I would have loved to stay here but the scheduling didn't work out so it was a brief visit. With some excellent views from the shelter, the tent sites are even better and a lookout to the left of the shelter as you enter the campsite provides some better views. After cooling down thanks to some tank water in my hat, I explored the campsite, mainly wanting to take a photo of the distant Torbay Inlet to gauge whether it would be a problem or not. I hadn't heard of it being opened while I was out here and with a low tide forecast, I wasn't expecting too much trouble. From the lookout you can see the bulk of the next section with Cosy Corner Beach extending out to Muttonbird Beach with Shelter Island marking the point at where you exit the beach.
I was very much looking forward to the second half of my day as the sun was shining and it wouldn't be long before my shoes were off and I could feel the refreshing waters against my skin as I walked along another pristine beach. There was the small matter of getting to the beach though and luckily the path leading you down there is very enjoyable. Offering a mix of the lusher, fern filled eucalyptus covering and the open coastal heath full of wildflowers, it never felt like a chore walking through here. The flowering gums made another appearance after seeing them before Torbay and I was happy to see some familiar wildflowers mixed in with some orchids like the Purple Enamel Orchid that I had only seen a few examples of over the past few days. The area seemed to be a haven for pink and purple wildflowers as I saw a few more varieties as I headed along towards the beach. Right before you get to the famous Cosy Corner, there is a lovely section of forest that is full of She-Oak and has a soft covering of the dead needles that these trees provide. This didn't stop the wildflowers from breaking through and it was quite enjoyable to take in before one of the longest stretches of beach walking on the whole track.
Reaching the staircase down to Cosy Corner, you are presented with the glorious view of the bay and the combination of turquoise beauty and deep blue of the ocean. I let out a sigh of relief at the top of the stairs because as much as I had enjoyed the day so far, the beach walking is a far superior in my eyes to the dune bashing. It was also really hard to argue with the amazing weather I was experiencing too. While mid-20s in the dunes can be a bit uncomfortable, out on the open sands with the cool ocean breeze in your face, it is perfection. Keen to get down to the beach I skipped down the stairs, only stopping to take a photo of the view as it changed. What a view it is too. We really are lucky in WA that this is just one of hundreds of beaches along the south coast that are postcard perfect (and mostly absent of people). That said, Cosy Corner is one of the more popular spots near Albany and at the bottom of the stairs you come across a gravel car park that on my visit contained a few cars, a bit of a shock after a couple of days alone in the dunes up to this point.
I made my way down to the beach and immediately shed my shoes and sock, resigning them to being tied to my pack. I jokingly referred to this as "grounding" on the Bay of Fires trip I was on over Easter but there is something about walking barefoot to really connect you with a place. It's much easier to do this on the smooth surface of a beach than it is elsewhere along the Bibbulmun so it was nice to have an extended stretch. Rolling my pant legs up I made for the waters edge and it was heaven to feel the cooling touch of the ocean on my bare skin. It had been a pretty warm slog getting to Torbay in the morning, an enjoyable one but enough to make me wish I'd brought the board shorts along for this hike. A wade in the gentle waves was more than enough as I slowly made my way along this perfect piece of coastline. Deciding that The Descendants soundtrack would be perfect here and with no one around, I was happy to have the relaxing Hawaiian tunes resonating from the little Bluetooth speaker in my hip pocket. While I was alone at the start, I could see what looked like a fellow hiker coming towards me. Given I'd not seen anyone heading in the opposite direction along the south coast since passing two ladies near Deep River, this was a strange sensation.
It turned out to be a single day hiker that had started in Albany and was walking all the way to his brother's place up in the hills behind Cosy Corner so he'd covered quite a bit of distance in the day already. We had a bit of a chat and he wished me well on the last day and a bit of my journey. The beach walking continued to be excellent and was broken up by a small stream that emptied itself into the ocean. Not more than an ankle deep crossing, the interesting part here was seeing the tannin stained water interact with the turquoise and blue water. I got a cool shot when a gentle wave crashed onshore, revealing a brown hue to the rising water. In the distance I noticed that the beach ended at a headland and the only obvious path was what looked like a very steep exit right up and over the dunes to the left. Thinking this was the official path I became a bit suspicious once I got closer and saw that it was impossibly steep and the Bibbulmun would never take you there. After photographing the really cool colours of the rocks in front of the headland I quickly figured out that the correct path is on the rocks and that steep part might be an alternative for when the sea is really angry.