Nullaki to West Cape Howe
West Cape Howe
23rd September 2019
The Hike - After a nice warm-up walking from Pelican Point Jetty to the Nullaki Campsite, I enjoyed a bit of a break in the heat of the day just re-hydrating and enjoyed a snack while writing in the log books. While this would have been the shortest day of my end to end had I have stayed here, Nullaki isn't always described as the best place to camp so I decided to double to West Cape Howe. With another 17km to hike through some undulating coastal terrain, I put some tank water in my hat to cool off and set about leaving camp. While I had not enjoyed the dune walking around Boat Harbour on the previous section, finding the track heading inland unnecessarily and away from the nice coastal views, I at least knew the first part of this section would be like this. The Nullaki Campsite is located inland and you have to switch from the Wilson Inlet to the ocean to see water again so it is fair that some dune bashing is in order.
Returning to the track via the small spur trail, I soon re-joined the trail and began what was a very long uphill section. Making me a happy bunny was the emergence of some distant cloud over my lunch break and so I was hoping that it would roll over and help the lighting conditions, which can be a little harsh at this time of year in full sun. Out in the open and on wide shots it's acceptable but when you start getting into the Peppermint trees it becomes a big problem with the shaded areas too dark and the sky being horribly overexposed. For now though I was walking along a fairly open area with the occasional ancient Banksia tree for company and a continuation of the excellent wildflower show from the previous section. A Prickly Hakea provided a break from the never ending supply of Donkey Orchids and I really enjoy the contrast of their sharp leaves and soft noodle like flowers. Much like the area around Boat Harbour, there have been some measures put in place to reduce the erosion caused by the walking trails dissecting the dunes. A black mat that looks like a never ending tyre with holes poked in it provides a harder surface to plant your foot and seems to be doing a good job of not letting your boots dig in to the sand.
While inspecting the black mat and looking where to place my next step I noticed a shiny green object in one of the holes. Thinking it might be a piece of glass, I reached down to pick it up and was happy to see it was a fluorescent beetle just chilling in the gap. Continuing up the hill, the track heads through a Peppermint grove, momentarily providing some much needed shade and also looking very pretty. Unsure if the bevy of orchids would continue now I was away from the constant water of the inlet, I can report this did not stop them from popping up everywhere. Donkey, Fairy, Cowslips, they were all there and every few steps contained yet another one. I had to calm my farm slightly otherwise I would have ended up with a full memory card after a couple of days. I'm not just talking one or two popping up, quite often they were just in clumps of three or four, sometimes up to a dozen or so. Realising this would be normal, I only took a photo if they looked super good but it was really hard to restrain myself.
Coming out of one of the many Peppermint groves in the area, the first of the inland views can be experienced. While a direct path straight to the coast would mean ocean views sooner, I was actually enjoying the gentle detour inland before reaching the ocean. While sometimes it felt like the track was just aimlessly wandering, it is mostly dictated by the various dunes so can't be a coherent path all the time. To the north you continue to see Mount Lindesay and while the Munda Biddi does go near there, taking the Bibbulmun near there would be a tough ask logistically just to climb a few hills. There is more than the distant hills to admire with a series of lakes/swamps dotting the landscape that also includes a lot of farming land. Spotting more wildflowers (Foxtails and an Albany Catspaw this time), it was really cool to have your attention constantly switching between what was on the ground and what was further afield. This wasn't doing wonders for my average time and at this pace I wouldn't be in camp until sunset.
The occasional set of stairs was handy to cover the vertical distance in relative ease and also served as areas where they built little seats, possibly with leftover materials from the stairs. A nice design feature specifically for hikers is a second plank that is slightly raised behind the first one so you can theoretically rest your pack on it and not have to worry about taking it off. This area is far from the top of the hill but respite from the exposed walking comes from a shady section of Peppermint trees where I would come across my first of many Bobtails for the day. These stumpy little lizards are funny creatures and are usually slow or casual enough to let you stop for photos. The first one I came across was pretty friendly, letting me take several photos and not moving too much. Get too close and they'll let you know, opening their mouths and exposing their tongues, which can be blue depending on the species. After annoying the locals for long enough I headed off, hoping the coastline would come into view soon.