Rame Head to Peaceful Bay
Start - Rame Head Campsite
Finish - Peaceful Bay
Campsite - Track Town
Distance - 12.3km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 122m
Time - 3-5 hours
Date Hiked - 20th August 2019
The Hike - After a fantastic first three days on the track between Walpole and Denmark, I had scheduled in a shorter day into Peaceful Bay. At only 12.5km, most hikers see this as an opportunity to double hut, enjoying lunch at Peaceful Bay before continuing on to Boat Harbour.
When I first started planning my sectional end to end, I made a point of not rushing sections and slowing down where possible. If that meant I had a few short days like the one into Harris Dam or here into Peaceful Bay then so be it. Making the decision much easier to not double today was the famous fish and chips that can be found at Peaceful Bay, plus the opportunity for a swim in the sheltered waters. I had specifically upgraded my hiking towel for this trip to something bigger and brought along a pair of board shorts so the only thing that would stop me going for a swim would be big swells or a school of sharks swarming in the shallows.
Waking up to a stunning sunrise, the Rame Head Campsite is perfectly positioned up on the hill to take in the beauty of the rising sun. Facing east and being able to see right across to Peaceful Bay and beyond to Little Quarram is really cool, even more so if there is a think mist floating over the ocean. I was fortunate to experience a really cool light show as the sun started to peak over the horizon and pierce the early morning clouds. Unfortunately I had once again not remembered to change my camera settings from trying to capture the rising moon the previous night so my early shots did not turn out. Luckily I caught it early and managed to get a few of the sunrise as it would have been devastating not to have any photos showcasing the loveliness.
With a light day distance wise and not much to do in Peaceful Bay except eat and swim, I took my time around camp, hoping for another visit from my kangaroo friends but they didn't show up. Another great advantage of the shelter facing east is you are warmed by the morning sun as you're going about your business of packing up and having breakfast. Enjoying a second hot beverage was a luxury I allowed myself as it felt right and I always pack extra just in case. I ended up leaving after 9am, figuring 3-4 hours was plenty of time to reach Peaceful Bay for a nice spot of lunch. With another sunny day forecast in the low 20s, I would get more ideal weather as I hiked near the coast, albeit with slightly saturated photos given I was walking in an easterly direction towards the sun. The trail to start with takes you out of camp on a sandy 4x4 track where you begin a long descent down towards the coast.
Unfortunately the 4x4 track will be home for about 3km and this is the first time for this section that it felt like you were using a track for expedience. With muted views towards the coast, there doesn't seem to be anything of note inland to make this an enjoyable experience. The track was realigned through here many years ago because of safety reasons, which is a real shame because you look at the map and there are some long beach stretches that look pretty cool that I know the old alignment visited. One day it would be nice if there were two options, one if you don't mind the risk of the coastal walking and the weather is fine and then the current alignment if you aren't comfortable with the rugged coast or if the weather is terrible. Staring into the sun, I was having to chose the direction I was shooting as straight ahead wasn't producing the best photos. Concentrating on what was at my feet instead and the occasional ocean view, I found enough to keep me interested with a few very sandy sundews along with a decent variety of wildflowers.
Reaching the end of the 4x4 track alignment, you pass a management gate that has a cool Bibbulmun Track sign attached to it and you can start enjoying your day. Leaving the 4x4 track, you head along the edge of a little valley that was a welcome relief from the glare and monotony of the previous 3km. Although still leaving you exposed to the elements, the single track allowed for a much closer experience with the land and compressed what I like to call the "Hiker Shroud", the space you are immediately aware of and can interact with. Sometimes it's fun to have a wide open trail and when you have expansive views or tall trees this is great but when you are on a 4x4 track through sandy scrub it is less than ideal. The wildflowers through here were excellent and I stopped quite a lot, including trying to photograph the bees that were buzzing around. After walking through typical scrub you'll find in these coastal sections, you come across a dieback station that I'm not entirely sure gets maintained. It does provide a seat if you want to have a rest and while I was partaking in said rest, a kangaroo popped out of the scrub behind me and then proceeded to stare at me for a while.
The kangaroo ended up winning the staring contest so I had to move on from his area. Ahead of me was my version of the Pingerup Plains as after a section of really picturesque boardwalk, I was confronted with a flooded track. With thick scrub either side there is no option but to get your feet wet and wade right through. For my Walpole to Denmark hike I had invested in a pair of trail runners for a few reasons but the main one being not keen on having 900g of boot to drag up and down the sandy dunes. An advantage of switching to trail runners is for patches like this where there is no avoiding the knee deep wading. After taking some photos I was straight into the water and it was very refreshing on what was turning out to be a warm day. I was fortunate that I wasn't rushing through here as I spotted something floating on the surface not far along and on closer inspection it turned out to be a little Wolf Spider. I wasn't sure if it was purposely floating there while on a hunt for food or had fallen in and was waiting for something to grab on to. Either way it was really cool and provided a nice little highlight for the morning.
The inundation ended after maybe 100m or so and within another 100m, the feeling of having wet socks had disappeared so a win for the trail runners. It doesn't take long before you reach a 4x4 track crossing and you can sense the coast is close. I had another kangaroo sighting as I reached the final up and down and was a nice welcome to the coastal walking. One of the more iconic photos that you see from this day is up ahead where you pop over a dune and are confronted with the ocean in the distance and a red Bibbulmun post in the foreground. I think being the first view of the coast up close for the day is just a spot where people stop and take a photo so it's one you'll see a lot. The beach here is quite wild but very beautiful as you head down to the water and follow the tracks made by the 4x4s. I could see cars in the distance so it didn't have an isolated feel to it but there is a ruggedness to these little bays that even on a calm day like today, you can appreciate. The beach walking is very brief but it is the beginning of some enjoyable walking right next to the ocean.
After finishing the small beach section you hop up onto a rocky platform right next to the roaring waves. On a wilder day I imagine this would be a pretty cool spot to experience the power of the Southern Ocean as the swell crashes over the coast and sends showers of white water spraying up into the air. The track from here until Peaceful Bay takes you right along the coast so there will be no shortage of nice scenery for the rest of the day. Looking back towards the west you get great views of where the track used to come from and it looked like some nice terrain. The path ahead is fairly gentle with a move away from the rocks and an undulating track as you make your way to the first of a few rocky beaches. This first one is really cool with a lot of smooth rocks strewn across the sand and a couple of bigger boulders to navigate. Even in what seemed like a sheltered bay, the waves were rushing in at quite a pace so once again it would seem foolish to have a swim here. Heading away from the beach you start heading uphill and into the coastal heath for the next section.
I noticed clouds were gathering to the east and after a pretty bright day, it would be nice to get some photos with something other than blue sky. The next point of call on the track is a place called Castle Rock, a name we really like using here is WA with this being the third site to use the moniker (the other two being located in the Porongurups and near Meelup Beach). With Castle Rock being the high point of the coastline along here and also the southernmost point you reach along the track between Walpole and Denmark, it is a fantastic place to sit and be in awe of the Southern Ocean. I chose a spot called Kingy Rock that is easily found (look for the red painted rock) and provides some expansive views to the south, east and north. I found a spot on the exposed rocks to drop my pack and just observe for a while. My one wish for doing the south coast sections was to spot a whale and I really thought this would be a really good spot for it. Sitting there staring out into the depths of the horizon trying to get my eyes to adjust, I was scanning the endless blue for any signs of the majestic mammals that grace our coastline in winter and spring.
Unfortunately it wasn't my day for it so I put my pack on and headed north towards my destination for the day, Peaceful Bay. Located at the end of a very large bay of water, I kept my eyes out for whales that might be sheltering in the calmer waters but they didn't want to visit Peaceful Bay today. From here you can see all the way to the small settlement of Peaceful Bay but it's still a 3km hike along the coast to get there, which is deceptively long as you walk along. While there were no whales, I remembered Steve mentioning on the podcast the seals below the rocks here and a little further north of Kingy Rock I found a path leading away from one of the small car parks that took me down to the edge of the rocks. It took me a while to notice them but just lying there in the white surf were a few seals with their flippers in the air. They were still a distance away so even with full zoom on the camera lens, they were little specks in the water. Still a cool sighting but nothing like the Fur Seals you see on the Wardan Nara Bidi on Rottnest Island.
As you descend down to the beach sections that mark the finish to the day, there is a really cool bay that has the classic turquoise water you expect from the south coast. The track ends up depositing you down on that beach and this begins a really nice stretch of walking all the way into town. With orange boulders everywhere thanks to the lichen that grows on them, I was having flashbacks to the Bay of Fires from earlier in the year. I joked on that trip that it was all in preparation for finishing the Bibbulmun and although it was a very different style of multi-day hiking, there are a few similarities between the two. A highlight through here is the whale bone that sits proudly in the rocks, jutting up into the heavens. I hope it stays there as it's a nice feature of the walking through here. By this point I wasn't enjoying the walking as much as I would like with a twinge in my foot causing a bit of discomfort. It was a real shame as the sun was out and the mix of beach walking and rocky platforms was really idyllic. I reached the final beach that contained the staircase leading up towards town and I knew I was done for the day. I spotted a family on the beach enjoying a swim and they probably wondered what this idiot in long pants and a giant pack was doing.
With it being just before 1pm, I was keen to get settled in town and have a well earned lunch of fish and chips. I had booked a tent site at the caravan park for the night so first order of business was getting everything sorted so I could relax for the afternoon. I checked in and selected a spot under a nice section of Peppermint Trees to erect my tent. With everything setup I changed out of my hiking clothes and into more beach appropriate attire because after lunch I was looking forward to a swim. I ordered my lunch and when it was ready I headed back down to the beach to enjoy it in the sunshine. After a few days of Clif bars and dehydrated meals it really hit the spot and isn't too long after leaving regular food behind that you feel the after effects (sectional hikers will know what I mean). Being very reckless and not waiting the standard thirty minutes between eating and swimming, I headed down to the water for a refreshing swim. To say it was breathtaking was a bit of an understatement but once I was in, it was really enjoyable.
With the whole beach to myself it didn't feel like a popular holiday beach so I enjoyed the quiet splash around. After drying off as best I could with my hiking towel, I went for a walk along the beach to check out the jetty to the east. It was a nice late winters afternoon with a light breeze and a warmth to the air that meant I could hang around without feeling the need to get into warmer clothes. One job I needed to do this afternoon was call the ranger at Denmark as the Friday before I left, they opened the Parry Inlet and with my path crossing that area in a couple of days I needed to know if it was safe to cross. Unfortunately the ranger said it wasn't passable so I had to scramble and make alternative arrangements. With my foot still feeling sore (my google diagnosis was Peroneal Tendonitis based off how the pain was triggered), I seriously thought about leaving the track here so I didn't do too much damage. The other option was to organise Jacko from Casa Libelula to pick me up from Parry Beach Campground and drop me off at my car in Denmark.
I would give it some thought over the afternoon and see how I woke up in the morning as leaving the track this early meant having to come back and do an extra three days added onto my planned Denmark to Albany trip. As the afternoon wore on I passed the time by sitting at the General Store, filling out the log books and playing with a puzzle game Aron got me for Christmas in July this year. It would have been criminal to not have another serve of fish and chips for dinner (although I switched it up for squid rings) and so I ventured back down to the beach to watch the sunset. Although it wasn't a true sunset as the bay faces east, the colours were still beautiful and the name Peaceful Bay really rung true here. It really is the simple things in life like a good meal and watching the sunset that makes you feel happy. With darkness setting in I returned to my tent and settled in for the night, running through the options in my head.
Final Thoughts - With three stunning days to start the Walpole to Denmark section, the walk to Peaceful Bay was facing stiff competition in terms of enjoyment levels.
Being a shorter day and having a very so-so start, I'll admit this didn't have the magic of the other days. This isn't to say it wasn't enjoyable as there are moments on this day that are really special. Kingy Rock and the beach walking into Peaceful Bay being examples but on the whole it didn't have the variety or big wow moments that the other three days did.
Of course it does have Peaceful Bay and the opportunity to enjoy some fish and chips so for that it will always be a day to look forward to.
Peaceful Bay is a really lovely spot and a throwback to the good old summer holidays where technology didn't rule our lives and all you had to do was swim, play and explore in the sun.
I think I might have to organise a family holiday down here in the future and spend the time just doing nothing but enjoying the beauty of the south coast.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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