Ellensbrook to Prevelly
Cape to Cape Track
The Hike - Part Two of my Moses Rock to Prevelly section after I decided to extend this day and beat the weather that was due to hit that night. Relaxing by the brook was fun and it would have been nice to spend the afternoon at Ellensbrook but I had places to be. I'm not going to lie, the allure of a comfy bed and hot meal at Prevelly had me excited but the thought of doing this 10km section plus another 18km into Contos in strong winds and rain was the biggest factor at play. With my bag all packed away, shoes on and a can-do attitude in place, I headed off to re-join the Cape to Cape as it headed south out of the campsite. While the walk into camp had been a delight with the mixed Peppermint/Marri/Jarrah forest, just south of camp sees the introduction of the first Karri forest of the Cape to Cape. Not quite the giants you get further inland or on the south coast, it was nice to see these smooth barked beauties after days of coastal walking.
Isolated to an area lining Ellen Brook, they only exist in small numbers but it was nice to walk alongside them for even the briefest of moments. Leaving Ellensbrook behind, you start climbing up a vehicle track that is surrounded by Marri/Jarrah forest on both sides and contained an excellent array of wildflowers and orchids. Ever aware of my pace, it was hard not to stop and take photos of every new variety of wildflower with a great deal of different colours and shapes. Hovea, Pink Fairy Orchids, Pink Myrtle, Cottonheads, Milkmaids, Blue Squills, Sweet Scented Hakea and an Acacia variety were just the tip of the iceberg. Prevalent all throughout this next section were Cowslip Orchids and I had to stop myself from photographing them after a while, even when I found a big clumping or a really good example. Having broken up this day into essentially three distinct parts with long breaks in between them, it felt much easier than if I was just bashing out 30km in a day with maybe a short lunch break (as I was doing on my last stretch of the Bibbulmun into Albany). The climb up the hill was enjoyable and as it flattened out, it also started winding a bit more through the dense undergrowth.
The trees weren't as tall up on the exposed ridge but there was plenty of shade in the tunnels of Acacia that did a great job of hiding the wildflowers and orchids just off the trail. While the use of vehicle tracks usually means less than ideal walking conditions, the wildflowers and bright Acacias more than livened up the situation. I imagine this wouldn't be ideal out of peak season but I think the Cape to Cape has enough range with the time of year that different plants flower that it would only be an issue in summer and early autumn. After navigating a long but ultimately necessary section of vehicle track heading south, you reach a well marked intersection where you are pointed onto a single track and the fun coastal walking begins. Now out in the open hills that flow down towards the ocean, it doesn't take long for the views to open up and you are reunited with the sight of the Indian Ocean. The warmth of the afternoon sun was very enjoyable, more so knowing it wasn't peak UV time and before long I was in a good rhythm as the track snaked its way along the contours.
High above I noticed a bird of prey circling the hills and took some time to observe it. While it was too way away to get a super clear picture, even with my zoom lens at max, it was fun just watching it scour the landscape for potential prey. Another winged presence in the sky was the passing of a light aircraft not too far away. Planes have become something of a novelty in these COVID times so I had a bit of a reflection on that while it slowly passed overhead. Sneaking closer and closer to the coast, the views opened up to reveal some pretty magic scenes. With a light breeze, the afternoon sun, some engaging single track and a pretty good playlist pumping, this was a section where I could pick up the pace while stopping every now and then to admire the beauty. The clouds off the coast were looking very friendly and I was confident that I'd arrive in Prevelly still dry. Once again, the areas was showing signs of a previous bushfire with the white skeletons of larger trees that are no longer alive. While devastating for the tree, the area has recovered well and hopefully another will rise and take it's place in the distant future.
They do provide something interesting to photograph and I love when a sprawling example is perfectly silhouetted against the blue waters of the ocean. Another feature that peaked my interest through here was the sight of some limestone pinnacles rising from the scrub in the distance. Getting closer to them, the track smartly goes right by them so you can view them up close and they provide something of note to this winding section. Looking very similar to the ones found in Nambung National Park, it's a funny curiosity that they are the only examples around. While these structures were easy to find thanks to their size, something much smaller caught my eye not far along and in the shade of the coastal heath was a very late season fungi that was probably coming to the end of its lifecycle given it resembled a burst sausage. I love little trail surprises but kept moving, passing plenty of different types of wildflowers including Old Man's Beard, Native Roses, Buttercups and Cocky's Tongues as the track started to descend towards the beach.