Peak Head Walk Trail
Start - Peak Head Rd
Length - 4.1km (Return)
Grade - Orange
Terrain - Single Track, Granite Slab
Vertical Climb - 218m
Time - 1-2 hours
Signed - Yes
Date Hiked - 3rd June 2015
Best Time - All Year Round
After three nights in Quinninup it was time to say goodbye to the lovely little town we had enjoyed so much and pack up my things for Albany. The weather was appropriately gloomy as I said my farewells to the town and my girlfriend (she was heading back home).
The 200+km journey to Albany was set to be a thumping great drive through the unbeatable scenery that this part of Western Australia does so well. Heading along the South West Highway it wasn't long before I hit the vast patches of land that were affected by the widespread bushfires last year. For long stretches of road the previously thick, green forest was replaced with blackened trees and scorched earth (see gallery at the bottom of the page). This was in stark contrast to the weather (pouring with rain) but after many humbling kilometres the greenery of the forest returned and I reached the coastal town of Walpole. I won't harp on about the drive but it is a very nice way to spend a day as you wind around the south coast of WA.
Eventually I reached Albany, grabbed some supplies and headed to my base of operations for the next few days. While there was still some light in the day I wanted to get out and get a small hike in. This is where the Peak Head Walk Trail comes into play - a 4km trek in the Torndirrup National Park traversing through coastal scrub and scaling granite boulders. The weather hadn't improved and after checking the weather app on my phone I thought it wasn't going to get any worse than the light sprinkle at the time of starting the hike so I headed out.
The turnoff to Peak Head/Stony Hill from Frenchman Bay Rd is well marked and it's a short climb up the hill before reaching the car park for the trail. Finding the only bit of the car park that wasn't under water, I disembarked and set off into the scrub. Instantly it reminded me of the Cape to Cape Trail with an abundance of peppermint trees providing a pleasant musk as you wonder along. As the trail starts off on top of a hill it isn't long before you get sight of the stunning coastline bordering the Southern Ocean. For the time being I could still see the granite hill of Peak Head that was the end point of the trail and marched on down the hill. Then the weather started getting worse and the views disappeared behind grey clouds and pouring rain. When I reached the bottom of the hill and started climbing up the exposed granite the winds picked up.
Trying to keep my footing on the slippery rocky surface, I admired a few man made rock formations and kept climbing until I hit what I assume was the final exposed rock face. It was a bit steeper and more exposed than previous sections. With water now cascading down from both the sky and the rock face and my clothes/bag drenched I made the decision to call it a day and begin the 2km trek back to the car. Slipping back down the sections I had come up trying to protect my camera under my snow jacket I eventually made it to the sandy trails and ventured up back up the hill.
About 300m from the end I turned around and as luck would have it, the skies were clearing and I could see some blue poking out from behind the clouds. I had a laugh, took a photo with my phone (camera had been put away in a water proof bag and buried in my bag) and turned my drenched body back towards the car park. Realising I didn't have a towel or change of clothes in the car I was thankful it was only a short drive back to my accommodation.
Final Thoughts – The weather wasn't ideal for my foray out to Peak Head but I can imagine that on a semi-reasonable day this would be a very enjoyable hike. Situated in between the famous tourist spots of Torndirrup National Park such as The Blowholes, Whaling Station, The Gap & The Natural Bridge, this trail would be a perfect addition to any sightseeing day.
If you do plan on tackling this trail make sure you have the right shoes if it is wet and plenty of water as the climb back up the hill can be a bit tough if you aren't a regular hiker. The views are spectacular as you pass by steep cliffs and if you choose a day like I had then you get to experience the unrelenting fury of the Southern Ocean as winds whipped up from Antarctica bash the coastline.
My apologies for the lack of photos but I could only shoot in one direction to be able to use my jacket to shield my camera from the rain.
Get out there and experience it!
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