Moses Rock to Ellensbrook
Start - Moses Rock Campsite
Finish - Ellensbrook Rock Campsite
Campsite - Water Tank, Toilet, Table
Distance - 19.1km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 355m
Time - 5-8 Hours
Date Hiked - 18th September 2020
Traditional Custodians - Wardandi People
The Hike - With a very enjoyable day in the bag between Yallingup and Moses Rock, I didn't think the walking could get much better. With my last day of good weather ahead, I was determined to make the most of it so brewed a coffee and went to the nearby lookout while I ate breakfast. With the morning easterlies blowing light, the ocean was pretty calm and my gaze once again was seeking out passing whales. My luck didn't turn around as the flat water revealed no giants of the sea so I headed back to the empty campsite and began packing up for the day. My original plan was to stay at Ellensbrook Campsite this evening and have my longest day on the track between Ellensbrook and Contos the following day. With bad weather approaching, the idea to switch up my itinerary and finish today in Prevelly didn't gain momentum until mid-morning. With a long day not on my mind, I thought leaving just after 8am was an early departure, which it is based on my usual routine and only having initially planned for a 19km day.
Heading towards the lookout I had visited a couple of times already, the views looking south were still impressive and at this point you can see all the way to Gracetown if the weather is clear. That would be my planned lunch stop and I was looking forward to a tasty meal but I had to get there first. Descending down the hill, the first section to Wilyabrup Beach is very familiar coastal heath with Pink Banjine being the main wildflower you'll see along this stretch. In the distance you can see the first big highlight of the day with the Wilyabrup Cliff standing proud on the edge of the water. It is the main feature of the first 4km of the day and the anticipation of seeing it up close makes the morning walking go very quickly, even if I was sauntering a little bit. The green edges of the cliffs leading down to the beach were a pleasant difference to the previous days and made it feel more like the coastal walking you see in the south of England (albeit in very brief stretches). Looking down from the cliffs at the rocks below felt very West Australian with the turquoise waters and I always enjoy watching the waves crash upon the rocks, causing spray to fly everywhere.
As I rounded a corner, the beach came into view and I could see two fishermen enjoying their morning. With most of the beaches between the Capes accessible by 4x4 for surfing or fishing, there is always the chance of running into a local on your travels or just spotting them in the distance like I had with numerous surfers. Reaching the comparatively small Wilyabrup Beach, the big task for winter and spring walkers is getting over Wilyabrup Brook. As always, it's best to assess the situation first by inspecting the ocean side and also upstream where there is a series of rocks that can be used if you're confident. Wanting to save time and avoid taking off my shoes/putting them back on again, I worked out a path over the rocks that looked easy enough. My last steps would be onto a carved out island of beach sand and then onto the opposite bank. I made it to the island but it didn't have the structural integrity I had hoped and collapsed not long after I had hurriedly stepped onto the firmer sand of the beach. With a somewhat successful crossing, I headed towards the fishermen and gave them a good morning before spotting the beach exit not much further along.
The soft sand of the dune exit was a good way of getting the legs working again as you climb up to the car park used to access Wilyabrup Beach. From here you disappear into the maze of Peppermint and Myrtle thickets that cover the cliffs and it's a nice section of walking filled with wildflowers, orchids and spooky looking paths. The only off-putting thing about this section is the unavoidable walking you have to do in sight of the private property that is to the left. The track is squeezed into this small corridor and the ugly sight of big fences creeps into your view on the open parts. I'm not sure if it's to keep whatever they have on their farm from escaping or to keep us dangerous walkers away from their property but it just wasn't a pleasant sight, especially at one point where a stream runs down the hill and they blocked the waterway with a myriad of odd bits and pieces that looked like a scrapheap. I digress because it doesn't last too long and the intermittent views of Wilyabrup Cliffs just up ahead had me excited.
When you finally reach the point at which you descend down the wooden steps, it's a really cool moment on the track. It's hard not to be impressed by a big chunk of rock poking out from the earth and Wilyabrup Cliff is no different. The almost Easter Island statue nature of the cliffs make for an imposing sight and that feeling only gets bigger as you descend down towards Biljedup Brook. I was fortunate enough to spot a group abseiling in the distance and it really put the size of the cliffs into perspective. I think it may have been the cadet group I ran into on the previous day but didn't wander down to where they were to confirm. As you stand at the lowest point where you cross the very small water course, staring up at the orange granite leaves you in awe with just the sheer size and beauty. It's definitely a unique spot and a great way to start what would become a pretty epic day. After crossing the brook, you head up towards the metal staircase that is used to get up to the top of the cliffs. A useful rest point, I took some time to attend to a hotspot on my foot before continuing on, hoping to be taken right to the edge of the cliff.
My dreams were dashed and I didn't think to take the short side trip down the track towards the abseiling point (you'll find a toilet there if you need it). That's not to say the views from up above the cliffs weren't good, you still got sweeping ocean views and the occasional piece of orange granite jutting out from the heath. I think the next C2C trip I do, this will be a must do side trip as the view from the edge of the cliffs would be pretty spectacular I would think. Through the dense coastal scrub you continue south away from the cliffs and start a slow descent down towards the next beach section. Here the birds were flittering everywhere and I slowed right up trying to spot one before it spotted me and flew away. I got lucky with a Silvereye way off in the distance still perching on a branch. While well camouflaged, I was happy just to get a shot of one as they are prevalent all throughout the coastal sections and it was nice to have one in the galleries to prove smaller birds exist on the Cape to Cape. The track through here is very familiar with a single path through the scrub in the foreground and excellent coastal views looking south providing the backdrop. Another fairly steep set of wooden steps drops you down to what I thought was going to be a nice beach walk but you never quite get there.
Instead you spot one of the old Cape to Cape wooden signs that are still surviving out here and the track ducks behind the big dunes. While a little disappointed at first, I was actually a bit happy for the change up as the northern section doesn't feature many of these types of detours. I'm not sure why the track doesn't go along the Cullen's Beach as it's right there and as far as I can tell, the beach is wide enough with a good exit that it shouldn't be an issue. You can take the beach if you like as the exit is very easy to spot. I'm sure walkers on a windy day would appreciate the protection (this would be me in the following days) but I was happy admiring the coastal survivors that amazingly grow in the nutrient bare sands. Rising up yet again, you return to the cliff side walking that is a mainstay of the morning. I spotted a few surfers down in the water and had another go at surf photography as they had varying success at catching waves. Up ahead was an important part of surfing life in WA with the first of the Shark Warning System alert posts. I'm guessing when a shark is detected, these let out an alarm loud enough for surfers in the water to hear. I wouldn't want to be walking past when that happens but a good system for the surfers to have and I believe it was put in place to address fears from the organisers of the big surf competitions.
Past the wooden lookout point connected to stairs leading down to the beach is the beginning of another enjoyable stretch that leads all the way into Gracetown. Heading downhill, the landscape starts to flatten out and the track takes you much closer to the water than the morning's walking did (beach sections aside). This marks the transition from more limestone dominated cliffs to more of the orange granite you got at Wilyabrup Cliffs. Passing a few large boulders just sitting there in the scrub, you reach the first of a few water crossings at Veryiuca Brook that is easily managed thanks to a series of stepping stones. Eventually you leave the wide track near a car park and enter some lovely single track that includes a new-ish wooden bridge over Miamup Brook. Spotting Whaleback Bay in the distance, I was intrigued by what looked like a boulder beach I was hoping the track would visit. Upon reaching the edge of Whaleback Bay, I was happy that the track did in fact head down towards the water but stopped short of taking you on the boulders for obvious safety reasons. The rounded rocks form a nice pattern on the edge of the small bay but I wasn't lucky enough to spot any whale backs of my own.
Heading away from the bay you enter a thicket of orange poison-peas that added a splash of colour to the day. With a bit of shelter, it was very pleasant walking as you pass a few bigger boulders on your left. Rocks like this will forever interest me as I love to imagine the forces over many thousands of years that go into shaping and creating the different angles and features of each rock. I think it was around this time that I seriously considered extending my day and finishing in Prevelly instead of Ellensbrook. All throughout the morning I had toyed with the idea but along this stretch I committed to the notion and decided I would organise everything when I stopped in Gracetown. The numbers running through my head of average speeds, time spent crossing Margaret River and other planned breaks were slightly distracting but it was easy to forget all that when confronted with a pretty stream. One such stream appeared ahead with the seasonal water course cascading down some granite ledges and out towards the ocean. This is a really nice spot to stop and have a break if you have the time and I afforded myself enough to take a few photos, dip my hat in the water and have a bit of an explore of the rocks leading up the hill.
Moving on, I was excited to get into Gracetown and have something for lunch, not knowing how good the entry into town would be. Rising up through some more wildflower filled thickets, there is a clearing you come across with views down to the cliffs. Head through another small tunnel of vegetation and you arrive at one of the more impressive sights of the day, staring out towards North Point. You guessed it, this is the northern point of Cowaramup Bay that protects Gracetown and is a low lying rocky platform I imagine can get pretty dicey when the winds are blowing and the waves a crashing. Skirting the edge of the cliff that leads down to the water, the track takes a sudden right turn and plunges you down the edge, looking like you will soon be walking right next to where the waves crash. This cool little detour I really enjoyed as I love a good rock scramble and this was a fun section. You don't actually go right to edge, instead making a left turn and hugging the rocks as the carved ledges provide a platform to walk on. Little rock pools appear everywhere and I found a crab that unusually didn't scramble off at the first sight of me (I suspect it was no longer living).
Around this point it wasn't very clear where the track went so instinctively I continued on the rocky ledges, following where I thought a trail would go. Being so close to town and no doubt a popular spot for people to explore, there were numerous goat tracks through here. I wasn't following the official track but it was hard to get lost given I could see Gracetown so eventually I made it to the gravel car park near the boat ramp. With the sun blazing away, this area had the feeling of an idyllic coastal town where your troubles wash away and you can spend a whole day exploring beaches, the rocks or snorkelling in the bay. I made a decision to head along the beach here instead of following the official track as it walked along the road from the tarmac car park. While the sand was very soft, the scenery was much better with orange granite everywhere and the water close by. A larger section of granite can be found in the middle of the beach that requires some scrambling to get over but this was just added enjoyment to the day. I was mindful that I had been going very slow since the last creek crossing so hustled along the last beach section. Departing the sand, I found the path that leads into town over Cowaramup Brook and it was much quicker now I was on pavement. Having never visited Gracetown before, I would love to return during late spring or summer and spend a few days relaxing in the sun.