Cape Naturaliste to Yallingup
Cape to CApe Track

Cape Naturaliste

Yallingup

14.1km

210m

4-6 hours

Directions - N-S hikers on the Cape to Cape begin their journey at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, located north of Dunsborough. From town, follow the signs towards the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and the C2C trail head is located on the western side of the car park.

The Hike - Here we are. Six years after first attempting the Cape to Cape and I'm back to finish a full end to end (old post is archived here if you want to see how far the website has come since the early days). A lot has changed since my last visit and with many years of hiking experience under my belt I was more than confident that this trip would not result in me pulling out halfway. Looking back at it now, I'm not surprised I only lasted three days out there but lessons learned and now I could enjoy the full experience with all that I've gained over the years. So that brings us to Spring 2020 and what would be the first leg of a four week road trip around the south coast. I'd always planned to return in the spring so I could experience the excellent wildflower display that the Cape to Cape is famous for and with all the changed plans in 2020, I decided to tack on some extra leave and tick a few more trails off my to-hike list.

With the parental units now living in Funbury, I asked politely if Dad wouldn't mind dropping me off at the start and he kindly obliged. No weeklong trip would be complete without a generous helping of Dad's world famous pancakes so I arrived at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse with a full belly raring to go. Like the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse requires you to pay for entry but I wasn't too fussed about doing the exact lighthouse to lighthouse route so I said my goodbyes to Dad, put on my hat and started from the trail head at the car park. There are a few trails in the area including the Cape Naturaliste Track and the Access For More Trail but the signage is pretty clear and you follow the Access For More Trail as it snakes down towards the coast. One of the longest wheelchair friendly trails in the South West, it's fantastic that it can be enjoyed by all while still feeling like a regular trail you'd expect in a popular tourist area. At almost 4km long, it runs all the way from Cape Naturaliste to Sugarloaf Rock, taking in some spectacular scenery and wonderful lookouts. For me though, this was the beginning of a six day, 130km adventure that I was particularly excited to do given the gap between visits. 

Immediately I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by wildflowers ranging from Teatree to Fan Flowers to Cape Tulip (non-native) to my favourite of the whole track, the Native Rose. The bees were loving the quantity and variety of wildflowers as much as me and it really wasn't hard to get a photo with a bee going about his daily pollen collecting business. Unfortunately for me, photographing the wildflowers was slightly tricky given the 30-40kmph winds that I was experiencing on the day. This would be a theme for my trip and required a lot of patience, waiting for a good moment where a flower was still and I could get off a shot. While it was windy, I was fortunate enough to get some lovely sunny skies mixed in with waves of fluffy white clouds. Reaching the Cape to Cape registration station, I dropped my pack and signed the visitor book, noting that the previous week had been a particularly busy one. Starting on a Wednesday I didn't expect to have to share campsites with 20-30 others as can be the case if you start on the weekend or during school holidays. With the registration done, it felt more like I was starting a long hike and continued along the pavement as it descended down towards the Wilanup Lookout. 

Reaching the lookout, it was nice to be confronted with the coastline instead of just seeing it from a distance. The dominant feature of the coast along here is Sugarloaf Rock and the lookout provides a great vantage point of one of the more popular tourist locations near Dunsborough. You will eventually reach it but for now you wind your way through the coastal scrub and continue to admire the epic wildflower display. Spotting more variety in the form of Rose Banjine and a bright yellow acacia, this was just the beginning. Further along and right on the edge of the track was my first Spider Orchid of the hike and once I'd spotted the first one, it became apparent that there were many hidden around that particular spot. I believe the ones I saw that are in the gallery are Exotic Spider Orchids and they looked very pretty in the sunshine. This was the start of a really cool section with the first of the orange lichen covered granite outcrops that you'll experience along the track. Along with providing some nice views of Sugarloaf Rock, I was happy exploring the nooks and cranny's where the Donkey Orchids grow quite happily. 

Leaving this little outcrop, the track continues descending along the boardwalk until you reach the road leading to Sugarloaf Rock. Cross here and keep going because the track takes you a lot closer to the car park as the Access For More Trail finishes near the toilet block. Officially the Cape to Cape just continues into the coastal scrub but it's a short side trip to Sugarloaf Rock that you'd be crazy to skip. Crazy I am but I do enjoy a side trip so I ventured out towards the tourists and up the photogenic staircase that provides the best views of the rock. A haven for birds, the impressive, jagged structure juts out from the ocean very close to shore. While it was windy today, the swell wasn't very large near the rock so I didn't quite get the lashings of sea spray I was expecting. Annoyingly, as soon as I arrived at the lookout, the sun disappeared behind some large clouds so my photos of the rock look a little muted. Deciding that the clouds would take a while to pass given their size and the wind direction, I kept moving and retraced my steps back to where the Cape to Cape continues southwards.