Cape to Cape Trail
Start - Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Finish - Hamelin Bay Holiday Park
Length - 27.50km
Time Taken - 6hrs 30mins
Date - 27th October 2014
Update - This write-up is from the very early days of the website and (spoilers), I only completed the first half. I'll be doing a full end to end over seven days in Spring 2020 so stay tuned. For a much better write-up than this go over and visit The Long Way's Better.
When I started this website at the start of winter I had no idea where it would lead me but I soon had my eye set on something a bit more challenging than a day hike. The first challenge was the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker and that proved to be more difficult than expected. With that completed I wanted to get a multi day trek under my belt and the opportunity to look further than Perth presented itself.
With my parents 60th birthday celebrations coming up they announced they were hiring a holiday home in Dunsborough for a week in early November. With the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse so close to where the holiday home was I decided to take an extra week off work and tackle the Cape to Cape track. With my Cape to Cape Guidebook in hand I started to plan my five day solo expedition of the famous trail.
Running North-South along the coast between Cape Naturaliste (north of Dunsborough) and Cape Leeuwin (southwest of Augusta), the Cape to Cape trail showcases the wild and varied scenery of the great South West region of Western Australia. At 135km long the trail is a weeklong adventure along pristine sandy beaches, through lush green forests and along rugged cliffs above the endless expansiveness of the Southern and Indian Oceans.
I chose to start the trail in Augusta mainly because the finish at Cape Naturaliste was only a short drive from the holiday home and I could be picked up without a lot of hassle. One of the added benefits of doing the Cape to Cape northwards is the famous south-western winds that batter the coastline are on your back instead of blowing right in your face. With my giant pack stuffed with everything I would need for five days and four nights I headed to my sister's place in Bunbury where I would stay before being driven down to the start.
The following morning my sister was kind enough to drive me the almost two hour journey to the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse where I would begin my journey just before midday. Day One would be a 27.5km trek to Hamelin Bay Holiday Park. After snapping a few photos and saying goodbye I headed down to the old Water Wheel for a look around at the scenery that would be home for the next few days.
The start of the trail winds its way along rocky shores and past some impressive cliffs. Be careful along here as it is a popular tourist spot and what looks like a deviation in the trail will lead you to a dead end. This happened to me a couple of times but the real trail was always a quick backtrack away. The first section to Augusta Cliffs is really scenic as the trail climbs its way up through the coastal scrub and provides sweeping views back to the lighthouse and beyond.
On the narrow single track I had my first run in with the local wildlife when I found a 1m long Monitor Lizard sunbaking on the trail. Peak hour traffic on the Cape to Cape is different to the city and after a 100m he darted off into the bush and I continued on my way. Soon you come across the registration station for those doing the walk end to end. Unfortunately all the recent names were doing the southbound journey so I would be on my own for at least the day.
Leaving the station I headed to Augusta Cliffs and being late October I was lucky enough to see the full array of wildflowers right on the trail. There were purples, yellows, oranges and pinks all along this section and together with the pleasant mint scent in the air thanks to the abundant peppermint trees; this was a great way to start. From the lookout at Augusta Cliffs the trail heads down to the infamous 7km stretch of Deepdene Beach.
This pristine section of beach begins with a steep climb up a dune and then is a mix of scrambling over rocks and long stretches of soft beach walking. I can see why this section is not a favourite of those doing the southbound journey. Your pace slows right down as you get bogged down in the soft sand and if the wind is blowing then it wouldn't be pleasant. With the clouds looming overhead this was not a fun section of the trail and with the sun slowly setting I was considering stopping short of my planned camping spot at Hamelin Bay and setting up at the Deepdene Beach Campsite.
The legs and feet were feeling alright and if I kept up a decent pace (4kmph) then I could make Hamelin Bay by between 5-6pm. Exiting the beach at the north end I put my shoes back on and climbed over the rocks at Cape Hamelin. This section is a welcome relief after the monotonous beach trekking. The deep red/orange colour of the boulders and then the rock platform leading to Cosy Corner Beach full of blowouts and fun sections of rock hopping.
After a quick break on the steps leading to Cosy Corner Beach I started the climb inland up to the Foul Bay lighthouse (91m). The good news when I reached the lighthouse was that there were no more big climbs for the day. The path wound its way down through scrubland and at the turnoff to the beach I had my first kangaroo sighting. It was very brief as the mob quickly bounded off into the bush before I could take my lens cap off and take a snap.
On the dune above the beach I heard a rustle coming from the path and as I looked back a kid appeared in a LeBron James jersey pushing a bike through the sand. He then proceeded to run up and down the small stretch of beach while I trudged along with my heavy backpack. With the sun setting I reached the Hamelin Bay Holiday Park and was greeted by a crowd of people (they may have been there for the sunset and not to greet me). As I had arrived later than expected the office was shut but they had kindly left instructions for me as to where my campsite was for the night and where all the facilities were.
With the light fading I setup my tent and made use of the gas hotplates in the common area to cook up a satisfyingly bland meal of brown rice. There I met a couple that were travelling around the South West and we spent a good amount of time swapping stories and talking about the state of the world. After such a solitary day on the trail it was great to meet some nice people but I was happy to cosy up in my tent and catch some rest.
Special thanks goes to Melissa and Andrew from the Hamelin Bay Holiday Park who kindly let me stay there for free. I highly recommend making this a stop as it has everything you need and is in the perfect location. If you are lucky you can see the stingrays down at the old jetty (I wasn't fortunate enough).