Yallingup to Moses Rock
Start - Yallingup
Finish - Moses Rock Campsite
Campsite - Water Tank, Toilet, Table
Distance - 23.4km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 557m
Time - 6-10 Hours
Date Hiked - 17th September 2020
Traditional Custodians - Wardandi People
The Hike - Day Two of my Cape to Cape journey and I woke up well before my alarm thanks to the early morning light illuminating my tent. It had been a while since I'd camped out on the trail so had forgot that you rise with the light and not the melodic chimes of your phone alarm. With the chirping of the birds making for a very lovely introduction to the day, I lay there in my new tent admiring the lack of condensation on the walls of the inner section. With the lightweight design of the Nemo Hornet, ventilation is very high thanks to a few cutaway sections in the outer shell. After a bit of a lie-in, I started to pack up my belongings and slowly got myself ready for the day. On the cards was a fairly straightforward 20km section of coastal walking, sprinkled with a few highlights including the famous tourist spots of Canal Rocks, Injidup Spa and Quinninup Falls. It was a day I was very much looking forward to and as luck would have it, the weather was forecast to be ideal thanks to temperatures in the low 20s, a light easterly breeze for the entire day and a bit of cloud cover later on.
With all my gear packed up I paid another visit to the Yallingup General Store for a spot of breakfast and to check the latest weather predictions for a couple of days time on their impressive surf/fishing report. Settling on smashed avocado on toast with a flat white, it really hit the spot. With the official track starting further down the hill, I trundled past the Caves Hotel and through the lush gardens towards the coast. Reaching the Yallingup Beach car park, I started my RunKeeper and headed off down Yallingup Beach Rd to begin my second day on the track. Right opposite the Yallingup Beach Holiday Park I spotted my first Fairy Orchid for the day and thought that this was going to be a pretty special trail day. The track follows the pavement that is popular with walkers and riders going for their morning exercise and I passed quite a few people enjoying the magnificent weather. As I was entering Yallingup on the previous day, I noticed that the Cape to Cape shares paths with a few marked trails that form loops near Yallingup. Having not seen them advertised I made a note to come back, perhaps next spring and check them out. Another of these trails popped up early on today with signs for the Torpedo Trail prominent along the coastal path that takes you away from town. With low scrub lining the now unpaved path and a flat ocean as far as the eye could see, the views along here were stunning.
My big hope for the day was seeing a whale and if I'm honest, my confidence of this occurring was quite high given the extremely flat water and the amount of people that had said they'd seen one on their recent trips. Whenever I took a break and had ocean views, my gaze would immediately start scanning the bright blue for dark shapes or frolicking whales. Early on it wasn't meant to be so had to be content with gulls sunning themselves on the rocks and seeking the wildflowers in the bushes, a feat that wasn't difficult given the variety and quantity to be found during spring. About a kilometre in I noticed a trail closure sign telling me that the Smith's Beach was closed for the winter due to extreme erosion and I would instead be taking the diversion on the Quenda Trail. This didn't really faze me as I was sure to be getting many more coastal/beach stretches over the coming days and the inland diversion would just mean more wildflowers. This turned out to be the case and immediately I was scanning the undergrowth for all kinds of different shapes and colours to photograph. Native Rose's, Donkey Orchids, Flame Peas, Flowering Acacia, Cowslip Orchids, Golden Buttercups, Pink Banjine and Vanilla Lily were just a sample of what I found here and it made for some excellent walking despite the sandy tracks.
Occasionally I'd get breaks in the undergrowth and the nice views looking down towards the water would open up. Some strategically placed benches provide some good rest points but being so early in the day I did not partake in a sit down. With the good finds continuing the length of the Quenda Trail, I was really enjoying the start to the day. All up if you end up doing the diversion it will add about a kilometre to your day but I thought it was a worthy detour. Descending down to meet up with the official track as it joins Smith's Beach, I was greeted with some nice postcard perfect views. A white sandy beach laid out below the dunes, surfers catching some waves and a few people enjoying a morning walk along the beach. From the final dune leading down to the sand, I had a look at the stretch of track that I had skipped and it seemed like the winter diversion was probably a necessary addition despite the fine weather conditions. As I entered the beach I was greeted by a doggo that was keen to know what I was doing or more likely, wanted to know if I had any snacks to share. I thought about taking my shoes off for this small beach section but as I could see the end was not far away, I decided to save some time.
Noticing some sea birds approaching, I quickly readied my camera and snapped off a couple of shots that I was lucky enough to get in focus. I believe the bird I captured was a Petrel or Albatross but cannot confirm with any certainty. Continuing on, I was enjoying the hard sand walking and soon came across the first proper water crossing of the Cape to Cape at Gunyulgup Brook. It didn't look too wide from a distance and so I gave myself a running start to launch myself over to the other side. It was not a very graceful effort with 17kg on my back and my foot landed right in the water so I would have a wet foot for the foreseeable future. With trail runners now my preferred hiking footwear for this exact reason, I was confident that the feeling of wet sock would quickly disappear and wouldn't affect me in the slightest. I'm sure anyone watching would have had a good laugh (as I was at myself). Exiting Smith's Beach at the boat ramp leading up to the road, you take a right turn and follow the road all the way to the end.
This was the start of a section that really had me smiling. As you come to the end of the road you spot a familiar Cape to Cape marker pointing you into the maze of orange lichen covered granite boulders. To start with it is very similar to some sections of the previous day but as you continue through the maze it becomes better and better. The big wow moment comes when you are confronted with one of the best views of the whole track thanks to a couple of pyramid shaped rock formations in the distance and a path snaking up the hill through the coastal scrub. My words don't do it justice but it's one of those moments on the trail where you just stop and appreciate the beauty. This awesome feeling continues as you scramble down the rocky steps to find that trail leading up the hill and it was slow going as I constantly stopped to take photo after photo. It was here I met my second raven friend that would be a recurring theme for the first few days and one I took as a good omen. Wishing him well on his journey, I continued mine as I hiked up the hill towards the gap in the boulders.
While the wider view of the impressively shaped rocks was awe-inspiring, I was having just as much fun admiring the almost manicured gardens that grow in the gaps of the rocks. In such a harsh and salty landscape, it's amazing to find plants of all varieties thriving where they can find a spare spot. Of course the Coastal Pigface loves this type of situation as it looks similar to a succulent but to see Acacia, Fabaceae, Banjine, Darwinia and Myrtle in such an exposed environment was great to see. Reaching the top of the hill where the tallest of the granite extended up into the sky, you are treated to some lovely views over to the next highlight of the track, Canal Rocks. This was another opportunity where I thought there would be whales in the sheltered bay below but a quick scan revealed nothing so I moved on towards the Peppermint thickets that are home until you reach Canal Rocks Road. The return to the somewhat sheltered confines of this type of coastal scenery was a welcome relief and I always enjoy the gnarly look of the grey trunks as they grow wherever there is room. Reaching a cool lookout, this was another spot to check for whales and just take in the beauty of the turquoise bay that was looking a million dollars in the morning sun.
With an absence of whales I continued on through the thickets of Peppermint and Honeymyrtle towards Canal Rocks Rd. Much like Sugarloaf Rock, the track doesn't actually take you directly to this landmark. Figuring I wasn't going to be back for a while and with the road leading not looking too long, I made the easy decision to go visit this WA icon. All up this adds about 1.6km to your day but it is worth it just to get up close to the impressive rock formations right on the edge of the ocean. This is another popular tourist spot that I'd not visited before so was keen to check it out and see if the bridge had been replaced after a violent storm destroyed it back in May 2020. Spotting a large bus in the car park, I was a little worried that it would be overrun with tourists and I wouldn't be able to get a clear shot of the new bridge that has now been built. Apart from a couple of well dressed elderly gentlemen, the place was deserted so I got my wish and just had to wait for the clouds to clear. Luckily they did and I got several snaps of the lovely colour match between the wood of the bridge and orange of the granite.
Dreading that climb back up the hill, I dragged myself away from Canal Rocks and began the journey up the pavement. It was starting to get a bit warm in the exposed sun so I was happy to be back in the relative shade of the track once I reached the top. The track does keep climbing from here so my legs had to absorb a bit more work as I headed up more wooden steps and then a set of metal stairs attached to the edge of a limestone cliff. This is a nice feature and something different that leads to the Rotary Lookout and a bench seat donated by the Dunsborough Rotary Club (hence the name). Again, you get nothing but lovely views from up here so I had a bit of a sit and enjoyed some dehydrated strawberries (still no whales). With a little bit of climbing to go (it's a 90m ascent from Canal Rocks to the top of this hill), I soldiered on and was soon descending down towards the coast again. As I was heading down and stopping a lot to photograph the wildflowers and ocean views, I heard some walkers behind me so stopped to let them through.