West Cape Howe to Torbay
West Cape Howe
24th September 2019
The Hike - After an enjoyable introduction to the Denmark to Albany section of the track, I woke up on the penultimate day of walking for my sectional end to end. With such a great vantage point to take in the sunrise, I was up and about early, exploring the area around camp as I photographed the changing colours. Given the location of the shelter and the accompanying viewing areas, West Cape Howe Campsite is best just before first light. There is a calmness to the air and the approach of another day on the track is made all the better by being up early and seizing the moment. Another reason for being up early was I had 29km to cover today between West Cape Howe and Muttonbird. As I've stated before, I have previously being doing shorter days between the designated campsites but for this section I decided to stretch the legs and double all the way into Albany over three days.
The body was feeling great after the 27km day yesterday so I was raring to get going while the air was still cool. After watching the sunrise and packing my possessions away, I was ready to go at 7am, a very unusual occurrence for me. I love walking at first light as the air is cooler, the lighting softer and there is just something about the experience that is much more enjoyable. Back home I often aim to be out on day hikes at sunrise to capture the best of the conditions but out on the Bibbulmun I normally can't find the motivation to be out early mainly because I'd be done by lunchtime and would end up spending half the day sitting at camp. With 29km to get through, this wouldn't be an issue so I headed off on the first section and found a bit of an issue with hiking this early on the south coast. With the N-S direction of hiking, when you hit the south coast it turns to W-E and you start the day hiking directly into the sun. That's fantastic if you're cold and you want to feel the warmth of the sun on your face but when photos are involved, especially through closed in coastal heath, it can be a bit annoying.
As I headed away from camp, the views of the ocean disappeared every now and then, replaced with a winding path through the Peppermint trees and a bright sun right in my eye line. I compensated by shooting either what I had just walked through or on the ground at the various wildflowers and orchids that dotted the path. Occasional ocean views presented themselves but were nothing compared to the epic scenes I would get later that morning as I headed to West Cape Howe. While the previous campsite is named after the southernmost point in Western Australia, the Bibbulmun Track only takes you to within viewing distance, a great shame since it has the opportunity to rival some of the amazing coastal cliff walking they have in Tasmania like Cape Hauy and Three Capes (maybe not quite at Cape Pillar levels). I hope one day the track gets realigned but for the current alignment, a far off glimpse and the occasional lookout is the best we get. As you head through the Peppermint trees the lighting in real life was really good but obviously doesn't translate through the camera due to it's limitations. The dune bashing through here lasts a good 3-4km and while I knew it would eventually get better with a few highlights coming up throughout the day, it was still a bit of a mission to hike through the endless twists, turns and hills.