Point Possession Heritage Trail
Directions - From the centre of Albany head around the harbour on Frenchman Bay Rd towards Torndirrup National Park. At Quaranup Rd take a left and follow this all the way to the car park on Fishermans Beach Rd at Whalers Cove. The trail head is on the western side of the car park with an archway you walk under heading into the forest.
The Hike - Sometimes the best things in life happen by accident and this is exactly how this hike happened. After taking in the lovely Luke Pen Walk in the morning and completely draining my camera battery, I slowly drove to Albany Town Centre to charge the battery, have some lunch and think about my next move. While I was in Albany I wanted to check out the newly constructed platforms at The Gap in the Torndirrup National Park and take a few 360 degree photos of the area so after lunch I headed out across Shoal Bay towards Torndirrup National Park. Home to some great scenery and one of the most underrated trails in Western Australia, Bald Head, the majority of visitors make the trip to see the easy to access but no less impressive sites like The Gap, Natural Bridge and Blowholes.
With a $6.1mil upgrade at The Gap and Natural Bridge, I wanted to see what was what and arrived to a swarm of people in the new car park. While the rest of Torndirrup National Park is free to access, this site has electronic pay stations so you can pay the standard $12 entry fee for national parks. Much like the Castle Skywalk in the Porongurups, the engineering masterpiece above The Gap is bolted straight onto the rocks and lets you stand right above the tremendous forces that crash into the coastline. The bottom of the platform allows you to see underneath, much to the dismay of a nearby lady who inched her way to the edge of the platform. Standing on the edge of the platform and looking down at where the waves relentlessly break against the cliff is a powerful experience, even in the relatively calm conditions. I took some 360 degree photos (to be posted on my Facebook page) and moved on to the other spectacle in the area, the Natural Bridge. Not as impressive as The Gap, it was still cool to look at and read about the story of the guy who climbed down to the platform and got washed out to sea (will leave the outcome a mystery). Not really knowing where I was headed next I thought I would drive to Albany and reassess my plans there. As I was driving back to the town centre I passed a sign that read "Point Possession HT" along with the bicentennial symbol I had seen before.
Having checked out a book about the bicentennial heritage trails that were constructed in the late 80s, I should have known about this one but given the book didn’t contain much useful information like maps or directions, I only flicked through it casually. Unfortunately a lot of the trails don't exist anymore or have been overtaken by other trails (like the Kattamorda) and some are either really short or driving trails. As I had no firm plans I thought I would take a tumble down the rabbit hole and followed Quaranup Rd until I found something. What I did find was a very large and informative information board at the trail head in the Whalers Cove Car Park containing a map, description and a big “Point Possession Heritage Trail” sign. The map showed the trail going out on Vancouver Peninsula along the western beach before looping around Point Possession (now dual named as Uredale Point) and going along the eastern beach. The supposed 6km return hike looked stunning on the map and if it was anything like the scene from the car park then this was going to be a real treat. I loaded up my gear and headed off through the entry point and into the dense shrubbery ready for what promised to be a fantastic little trail. The first section of this trail until you reach the loop is through some coastal forest similar to Bald Head.
With soft-ish sand, amazing ocean views, wildflowers a plenty and the occasional bit of cool, dense forest, this section is a great introduction. The real shock and awe moment comes when you see Vancouver Peninsula for the first time and you extrapolate what you saw on the map and where you will be hiking. With a giant smile on my face I examined the postcard perfect scene in front of me and snapped a few photos (I was trying to efficiently take photos as I didn't have much battery life). With the trail still high above the water the views continued as I moved on along the now granite path. Lined with wildflowers and flowering trees, the path to the loop section was an enjoyable place to be in the spring sunshine. The descent down to the beaches takes you on rocky paths through the shrubbery and eventually you come out onto a wide sand track used by the nearby Camp Quaranup to access the beaches. Passing a tiny shed I'm guessing is used to store equipment used by the camp, the path splits in two. Left is to Brambles Beach looking out over Shoal Bay and the town centre and to the right is Barker Bay Beach that provides an amazing experience of King George Sound and the Southern Ocean.
I wanted to save the spectacular Barker Bay Beach for last so chose the path leading to Brambles Beach and headed off on the soft sand. While it isn't the better of the two beaches, there is still plenty to enjoy about walking along this pristine stretch of white sand. Once you have made your way over the dried seaweed, the walk along the beach is very relaxing given the compacted nature of the sand and the beautiful pearl colour. With only seagulls for company I looked out at the port and town centre and thought about all the people up in the car parks on Marine Drive looking down at me, probably not knowing this trail existed (as I hadn't an hour before). The gentle waters of Shoal Bay meant the walk along the shore towards the granite dome at the end of the peninsula was very peaceful. My only worry was crossing the deep layers of seaweed that had built up over the winter and this proved to be a messy experience. There was no avoiding it so I chose a point where it didn't look that deep but in the end it didn't matter.