Hamelin Bay to Deepdene
Start - Hamelin Bay
Finish - Deepdene
Campsite - Toilet, Water Tank
Distance - 8.8km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 159m
Time - 2-3 hours
Date Hiked - 21st September 2020
The Hike- Here we are, the final day of my Cape to Cape adventure and I thankfully woke up to some much better weather than I received in the previous two days. With about 24km of hiking to get through today and a pick-up time of roughly 3pm, I enjoyed a slight sleep-in before departing.
Making this day a lot easier, I had arranged with the lovely staff at Hamelin Bay Holiday Park to leave some of my gear with them at reception to lighten my load. There was no benefit to carrying my tent, sleeping gear or cooking gear so I treated myself to a lighter pack and would return at the end of the day to collect it. With everything already packed the night before, I enjoyed a cup of tea before tidying up and departing. I didn't talk about it in my last post as I ran out of space but Hamelin Bay is a really cool spot that I'd love to return to in summer for a quiet holiday. You won't find phone reception here so you can concentrate on having fun snorkelling the nearby reefs, walking along the pristine beach or finding a quiet spot to read a book. The famous stingrays start appearing around summer time and the whole bay is fairly well protected if you want to explore a bit further with your snorkel and flippers.
At the time of my visit though, the conditions were anything but summery thanks to the overcast skies, cooler temperatures and threat of showers throughout the day. Thankfully the wind had died down to a moderate breeze of about 30kmph, almost nothing compared to the previous two days. With everything ready, I left just after 8am and was on the lookout for the two ladies that I had caught up to yesterday, wondering if the soggy beach walking had deterred them from hiking today. I've broken this day up into two posts mainly because I took way too many photos to share in one post and the other reason is there is enough going on in this area to consider this an option for a short rest day if you spend the morning around Hamelin Bay. Walking out to the beach, I wanted some parting shots of the jetty and Hamelin Island before I departed, having rushed them the previous afternoon thanks to the howling winds. What is left of the jetty is an icon of Hamelin Bay and on a calm day you can still see the pylons that stretch out into the bay. Used as a base to load up ships with our precious Karri, Jarrah and Marri trees in the early days of colonisation, I have mixed feelings about the jetty.
The track leaves the beach by heading up the wooden staircase and towards the western point of Hamelin Bay. There is a little side trip you can follow to get better views of Hamelin Island from White Cliff Point before you duck down onto the beach at Salmon Holes. This is just a warm-up beach for the longer sections you'll face later in the day and I was happy that it wasn't completely washed out from the last two days of stormy weather. I spotted a bird of prey circling above and did my best to capture it in the grey conditions but in the end spent more time watching it with my peepers. Up ahead was a much more photogenic bird scene with a Pied Oystercatcher fossicking in the surf for something to eat. I love these birds as they have a lovely contrast of orange beak and eyes against a black head, plus they don't mind sticking around and posing for a few photos. I almost missed the beach exit photographing the layered limestone bridge formation that is located near the first of many rocky deposits you'll see for the day stretching out into the water. Like with many of the beach exits of the Cape to Cape, the soft sand takes some effort to ascend with a bit of slippage but once you're at the top it's the start of a fairly long section of inland walking.
I would be getting my fill of beach walking during the day so was happy to enjoy some time in the Peppermint groves as they are home to all the cool wildflowers. Immediately I found a Native Rose, Hovea, Old Mans Beard, a Pink Fairy Orchid, a Vanilla Lily, many flowering Acacias, Pink Boronia and Karri Hazel. Spring really is the best time to do the Cape to Cape as your gaze is constantly scanning the undergrowth for a new variety or colour. Given the biodiversity along the whole track, it's quite possible to see dozens of different wildflowers on a single day. I was very appreciative to not have to battle the winds today and being shielded from the wind meant I didn't have to wait for the flowers to settle into a calm position. As I wound through the thick grasses and the enchanting Peppermint trunks, I heard some voices in the distance. I muted my speaker and the voices became louder. I always feel weird running into people because in these winding tunnels of undergrowth it's quite a shock to people when you suddenly appear in front of them. I stopped in what was the most open spot I could find but sure enough I gave these two Canadian ladies a fright as they rounded the corner.
We discussed our various plans and they had questions about distances and time that I was happy to answer. Heading in opposite directions, I continued climbing up to the high point of the morning and thought it would be a good opportunity to check for mobile reception given the area had been a black spot since the Boranup Hill Lookout. Being with Vodafone I had no luck so turned my attention back to the track as it made it's way along the ridge towards Foul Bay Lighthouse. The little talked about third lighthouse of the Cape to Cape, it's a tad smaller than its more famous siblings but still performs a vital service. Given the amount of shipwrecks around Hamelin Bay thanks to the various reefs, it is very much needed and had it's first life on Hamelin Island before being moved in 1967. It's not the stuff of postcards but serves as a nice rest point for the morning so on one of the rocks I had a bit of a break and enjoyed a snack. I had made fairly good pace so far with a very light pack and some gentle terrain but with Hamelin Bay being a soft sand slog the previous day and Deepdene Beach famous for being much softer than Hamelin, I didn't stick around for too long.
From the lighthouse you continue along the ridge, winding along a wider track that is full of posts notifying you about the electrical cables in the area (most likely powering the lighthouse). In the open heath I was happy to see a good number of Granny's Bonnets around. These large pea varieties are lovely to photograph as they are mostly flat and have incredible detail to them. Also found along this stretch was a prickly favourite in the form of Parrot Bush flowers, some Donkey Orchids and a pretty purple Petrophile. Reaching the paved surface of Cosy Corner Road was a bit of a shock and you have to follow it for a very short distance before being directed back into the wilds. The track doesn't actually visit Cosy Corner Beach but after some more Peppermint grove walking that included some lovely drosera vines just off track, you reach a spot where the views overlooking the beach and ocean are plentiful. As weird as this sounds, Cosy Corner Beach actually looks quite cosy from this vantage point with a small strip of idyllic sand. Given it faces south west into the wind, I'm sure it has issues when the sea breeze is blowing but pick the right day and it looks like a top spot.
Making things looks infinitely better was the first appearance of the sun today and what a difference it makes to the coastal scenes. Perfect timing as I descended down the wooden steps towards one of the places that I was most looking forward to visiting today, the Blowholes. I have vague recollections of this day from 2014, mainly because I was rushing through to get the 24km done in half a day thanks to a later than expected drop off at Cape Leeuwin. One section I do remember being quite fun was the Blowholes with a fairly sketchy ledge full of alien looking rock formations and the unforgettable whoosh of the water rushing through the titular blowholes. I remember it being a little tight and my thoughts immediately went to the couple that had planned to reach Deepdene yesterday and I was imagining what this place would look like with 60-80kmph winds powering waves that would pound the rocky platform. I had much calmer conditions and it was actually turning out to be a glorious day so I hopped onto the platform and started exploring all the little nooks and crannies that I find so interesting. The way the wind and the waves have shaped the limestone here creates some fascinating shapes with the most common one being a smoothed and curved tower.
Looking like interlocking kids toys, my mind kept trying to piece the different areas together. Rock hopping and exploring rock pools are two of my favourite things to do in these coastal sections and it brought me back to the last morning of the Bay of Fires trip from 2019 where I spent an hour scrambling around the granite looking for crabs and things of interest. I came across the first of the blowhole tubes and despite the calm water, there was still a rush of water through the caverns that made the sound I was expecting. I could only picture what it was like over the previous two days but given the narrow ledge in places, I have heard stories of this not being the safest place to be when the seas are angry. There is a route available that skips this whole section and given the other diversion notices around Smith's Beach and the Margaret River Crossing, I am surprised there isn't a sign here too. I was having fun searching for crabs and they weren't too hard to find but photographing them was another thing as they are quick to escape once they've spotted you. Hopping along, there are some stretches where you have to step over cracks in the platform but these should pose no issues to even the shortest of hikers.
Most of the time I was squatting down to capture the water rushing through one of the blowholes or on the edge of the platform watching the waves crash against the edge. There was so much to photograph here with such a variety of shapes, textures and colours including the bright green moss that clings to the base of the platform. I think it took me about half an hour to travel the 800m from one end to the other but that's just an indication of how great this section is. I could of course stayed much longer but I had places to be so was cautious about not spending too much time here. As you approach the end of the platform there are bigger gaps and more dramatic overhangs near the edge of the water. In the sheltered areas near the headland is where you'll find more marine life with little lagoons of seaweed close to shore and some lovely orange lichen formations that reminded me of the granite platforms of Bobakine. Sadly, this marked the end of the Blowholes but what a great little stretch that was. Ahead was the granite headland and a place I had forgotten about from my last visit.
After the limestone blowholes it was fantastic to see the orange lichen covered granite boulders of Elephant Rock Beach spread out before me. Such a remarkable change in geology in such a short space of time and a really photogenic place. Very similar to the areas you get between Smith's Beach and Canal Rocks earlier in the Cape to Cape, they are a sight to behold in the bright sunshine of a spring morning. While I see the similarity to an elephant in the three rock piece (more AT-AT than elephant in my opinion), the more striking rock feature is the one leading into the ocean resembling the shape of a whale. Making it more life like is the moist texture of the rock thanks to the waves coming up and over it so perhaps the beach should be named Whale Beach. With plenty of potential sun protection thanks to the large boulders and a nice stretch of beach, this would be a lovely summer spot but unfortunately it's only accessible with a 4x4. After a short beach walk you arrive at another granite headland and this marks the beginning of the end for the stretch into Cape Leeuwin. If you squint really hard on a clear day you can make out the lighthouse on the horizon but your view will no doubt be drawn to the beauty of the headlands and the beach sweeping around from the left. I am certain I went off course a little bit here but the opportunity to do some more rock hopping and exploring was too great a pull. I found a treasure trove of orange crabs that contrasted well against the dark rocks and I was able to sneak up close enough to get a decent shot of them.
Picking my way through the various platforms and formations, I was headed in the rough direction of the beach where I assumed the track went along. Unfortunately this area is sandfly heaven and it's an unpleasant experience having to walk through one of their swarms and even less pleasant when you are followed by a lot of them. This happened to me right as I was approaching the entry to Deepdene Beach and was very distracting as I was trying to take photos of the beautiful turquoise waters of the bay combined with the moss covered rocks. With a lot of beach walking to get through over the next couple of hours and with the sun shining, I thought it was best to remove my trail runners and go all natural. I love the feeling of the water on my legs as I walk along the edge of the water and I figured that I might find some harder sand there. It doesn't come without some risk as frequently on the south coast you'll find washed up blue bottle jellyfish so you have to be mindful of where you are stepping. In the distance I spotted the two ladies from the previous day and given I had caught them along Hamelin Beach, I was confident of catching up to them here. I did just that as we approached the entry to Deepdene Campsite, something you'll have to look out for if you plan on camping there (look for the big dune and markers on the edge). As I was carrying on to the end I decided against the 1km there and back detour to see the campsite.
Final Thoughts - Being the shortest of the campsite to campsite or town to campsite sections of the Cape to Cape, this is a day where you can really take your time and enjoy a swim if the mood takes you.
Given this was just the first third of a full day for me, I didn't have that luxury but could imagine it would be quite pleasant to stop for a few hours at Elephant Rocks Beach and have a relaxing time.
There is enough variety along this stretch with a combination of beach, headland and Peppermint grove walking to delight the senses but the real show stopper is the Blowholes.
Whether you visit on a calm day or when the wind is really blowing hard, there is a lot to enjoy from either experience. My advice is take your time and have fun exploring this stretch.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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