Contos to Hamelin Bay
Cape to Cape Track
The Hike - The penultimate day of my Cape to Cape Adventure and what a wild night it was. Waking up every now and then to a strong blast of wind or a heavy shower, I am pleased to report that the Nemo Hornet stood up to the challenge quite well. With the worst weather of the week forecast to hit this coming day, I was very happy that the first 15km or so would be spent hiking through the inland forests where I would be somewhat protected. Having prepared what I could the previous afternoon including topping up my water bladder, I could enjoy the toasty burrito sensation for a while longer today. I didn't want to chance the weather too much and with a sunny period in between a couple of showers, I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to speed pack everything and get going. Dismantling a wet tent is never a fun activity and I doubted I would get a chance to dry it out during the day so had to use the winds to my advantage and shake it out as best I could. Luckily the Nemo has two grab handles that form part of the weatherproofed tub/wall so you just hold those and shake.
While I was finishing up, a couple of hikers appeared from the depths of the campsite and we had a brief chat about plans for the day. It turned out these two ladies have been on the same schedule as me but doing it as a series of day hikes, leaving cars at either end every day. It was amazing that I didn't bump into them earlier in the trip but thinking back now, I believe I passed them just after Bob's Hollow the previous day. They had a head start on me by about 15 minutes today and given I was heading into the forest where I really enjoy slowing down to admire and photograph the little details, I didn't expect to catch them up. Having picked the Whistlers Loop of Contos because I knew there was a direct exit onto the track leading south, I headed to the edge of the hill and started my day. From up here you can see the road leading down through the landscape but thankfully you are not on this vehicle track for too long as it doesn't look very entertaining. While very windy from this elevated position, you immediately descend and into the comfort of the protected forest. Straight away the wildflower and orchid display was on point with a good mix of familiar varieties like Cowslips and Donkey Orchids mixed in with some flowering Banksia and Hakea.
The sandy vehicle track continues for the first kilometre of the day and I was relishing being in the forest for an extended period of time, just taking in the wildflowers and greenery. Often wandering from side to side depending on what I spotted out of the corner of my eye, there were some great finds including the pretty purple Salt and Pepper bush, the always interesting Drosera Vine and the unique Petrophile. Reaching the bottom of the hill, this is weirdly the lowest point you reach until dropping down to the coast near Boranup Beach. Given the iconic Karri forest at Boranup that you see on this day, I was expecting them to be found in a low valley but that isn't the case. Taking a left turn you head towards the other campsite that is in the area, Point Road. If you don't want to stay at Contos, this is another option but is lacking a water tank so be aware of that if you plan to stay here. Given you have to pay a fee for both campsites and they are only a kilometre apart, the only reason I would stay here is if I really wanted to camp in the forest, avoid the crowds or if Contos was fully booked. The quality of the forest through here instantly brought a smile to my face with large Marri and Peppermint trees growing in all different directions. This definitely had a wild feel about it and certainly notably different to the regrowth forests you get along most of the Bibbulmun Track.
As expected, the couple I ran into at Contos the previous afternoon that were staying at Point Road had already left. Worryingly they were planning on getting to Deepdene today and I would not expect the Blowholes section to be particularly safe with the weather predicted for today. Point Road isn't a walkers only campsite and you can expect to find an information board, toilets, BBQ and a few tables so I admired the camping spots for a bit before moving on. The Peppermint trees through here are quite a sight to see and there is a magic to this forest that I really enjoy. Fallen, mossy trees line the trail as you continue along Point Road towards the first of the Karri forest that this day of the Cape to Cape is famous for. Rounding a corner, the mixed forest is replaced with the sight of these smooth trunked giants and it brought a big smile to my face. The Karri forests of Western Australia are some of my favourite places to be and I was happy to be back among these beauties, even if the experience was a little brief. I remember thinking to myself that the undergrowth in this area looked very scruffy and not at all what I would expect from the typical species that grow under Karri. I wouldn't be surprised to find out it was mostly weeds but I was a happy camper none the less. Leaving the Karri forest after a brief dalliance, you take a right turn up Georgette Road and this begins a climb that lasts just over a kilometre.
Struggling to remember if this was the only bit of Karri forest you come across, my mind was wondering why it didn't take you through the more popular parts of the Boranup Forest that have become a favourite of the Instagram crowd. While a little disappointed, I can see why this route has been chosen as it relies heavily on the vehicle tracks that criss-cross this area and it would have been a big expense to implement single track through here (although hopefully one day we get something fitting this bill). As soon as you start climbing the forest starts to change back to mixed Marri/Banksia woodland. Again, this is no bad thing as I love all forests and the Grass Trees through here were very impressive with a variety of formations and heights. While I was protected through here, the winds were still noticeable but I wanted to stay here for as long as possible to delay the inevitable stretch of beach walking that was ahead. I was still early in the day so focussed myself back to the excellent walking through this part, photographing all the wildflowers I could see and watching out for the birdlife that I could hear all around. Being a wet part of the state, I wasn't surprised to see the occasional fungi growing on the side of the trail and the mossy trees had me thinking this was a lovely winters day.