Day One, 7 April 2012:
Autumn is a beautiful time of year in the southwest with clear skies, chilly mornings and mild afternoons. The swell picks up producing clean white lines which emerge from the deep blue Indian Ocean. The vineyards are in harvest and there is no better place to be than the Margaret River Region.
Lunch was served at Cape Naturaliste with a side of blue autumn sky and soon after we headed off on our first walk with a group of nine happy walkers. Almost immediately we were struck by the colours. There was a patchwork of greens, oranges and yellows, all with the vibrant blue Indian Ocean in our periphery. We stopped frequently to watch the waves roll into the coast from our cliff top vantage. We passed the photogenic Sugar Loaf Rock off the coast and marvelled at the calcified root systems in the limestone around us. It is quite something to see the ancient calcified remains of the Rottnest Island Tea Tree amongst its living cousins.
As the light began to fade, we trickled into the seaside town of Yallingup. The beach was packed with surfers and fishermen, yet we had not seen more than a few hikers the whole afternoon. With our first day behind us, we drove to our home away from home for the week in Margaret River. Showered, changed and extremely well fed it was all that we could do to make it to 9pm!
Day Two, 8 April 2012:
The Easter Bunny visited us over night and it seems we couldn’t lift a cup or bowl without finding an egg or two. With fresh bread just out of the oven, we could see the group starting to relax already. By 7:30 we were out the doors to take advantage of one of the best times of the day.
Arriving at Yallingup, the Easter crowd mingled around the park with their take away lattes in hand, but we left them behind on our way towards Smiths Beach. This is one of those areas that has always struck me as being pre-historic in some way. We were on the look out for mega-fauna as we rounded the red granite headlands with perfect blue skies above. The sands of Injidup provided a bit of a pre-lunch challenge but we were soon enjoying an excellent meal below the welcome shade of a coastal tea-tree.
The afternoonâ€™s walk was reasonably short although sandy tracks and wonderful cliff-top views had us resting often as we contemplated how Inspiration Outdoors might add a massage branch to their operations. As we dropped down to the beach, we were treated to a dolphin display in the surf and some cute Hooded Plovers tiptoeing along the sand. Those with a botanical interest wandered slowly to our finish point at Moses Rock, identifying plants and even spotting a Western Bearded Dragon, whilst those looking to get the heart rate up, strode ahead. The sun was just starting to soften as we arrived at the end of the day’s walk.
That evening Nirala surprised us with an Easter Egg Pavlova for dessert!
Day Three, 9 April 2012:
Blue skies again! The stretch of coast just past the Moses Rock Campsite has to be one of the prettiest in the South West and we had plenty of lookouts and vantage points to admire it from during the morning. Deep red rocks, glassy smooth seas and autumn colours in heath made for some great holiday snaps. It was fairly easy going but we were grateful for the little breezes close to the coast. At morning tea, the â€œProfessorâ€ gave us an impromptu lecture on the humble pussy willow and we are all surprised to learn that Matthew Flinders introduced the species as a alternative to saffron! It was amazing to hear the highlights of the Professorâ€™s years of research at Cambridge (or was it Oxford… the story did seem to change with each retelling).
We finished up the day’s walk with a swim at Gracetown and headed off to visit the lovely Patricia Negus, an excellent local artist, and her wine making husband Tim. It was difficult to get everyone back on the bus after our hour-long visit.
Day Four, 10 April 2012:
Jane Scott is a legend around these parts. There would not be a Cape to Cape Track without her and as President of the Friends of the CTC she knows more about the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park than anyone else. As we headed out of Gracetown, Jane told us about plants, ancient moths and the interesting geology we passed. A refreshing swim at lunchtime was followed by a pleasant stroll along a firm beach to Cape Mentelle, where we spotted a huge Osprey nest and some delightful wineglass bays.
Day Five, 11 April 2012:
Starting at Gnarabup, the team avoided the recently burnt inland section behind Prevelly by following the diversion along the beach. With stories of shipwrecks and local heroes the group walked to Redgate where Simon was waiting with a well earned morning tea. The next section between morning tea and lunch has to be one of the highlights of the whole Cape to Cape. The steep cliffs around Bob’s Hollow and the dramatic views down to the turquoise water kept the group in a great mood as we headed to Conto’s for lunch under the peppermint trees.
After lunch we headed inland and the knee high coastal shrubs made way for 50 metre high karri trees in the Boranup Forest. The peaceful beauty of the forest was all the more revered for its contrast to the raw energy of the coast. While some admired the various species of plants, others delighted in listening to the birds and Joy just wanted to get to the end! Today marked the completion of a Cape to Cape â€˜end to endâ€™ for Joy and John, having completed the southern section earlier. We all celebrated Joy and Johnâ€™s â€˜bucket listâ€™ achievement that night and Simon presented them with their own bucket to mark off future achievements.
Day Six, 12 April 2012:
Starting from the forest all eyes were peeled for the Hamelin Bay Mallee â€“ only found in this area and distinguished by its grooved nuts. We found our first specimen at around the same the time we got our first glimpses of the ocean. Morning tea was on the beach whilst contemplating one of the Cape to Cape’s greatest challenges, Boranup Beach. Sometimes rock hard, sometimes powdery soft, Boranup beach is a 6km stretch into Hamelin Bay that challenges most.
The afternoon was short but spectacular. By 2.30pm we were at the base of Foul Bay lighthouse with sweeping views of the coast and only a 10 minute walk down to the end of a fabulous day’s walk.
By now we were used to the evening routine, but we continued to be surprised by the creativity and deliciousness of our evening meals, cooked by our loving chef, Nirala. As our bodies became conditioned to physical activity, there were even a few who managed to make it to 9:30pm!
Day Seven, 13 April 2012:
With over 100 km behind us, weâ€™re a dayâ€™s walk away from completing a full end to end on the Cape to Cape! We made our way slowly along he limestone platform of Cosy Corner with it’s amazing solution pipes that seem to defy natural order before receiving our first glimpse of the lighthouse where our journey ends. It seemed tiny in the distance with the full length of Deepdene beach laid out before us.
Two of the group added some unexpected kilometres to the days walk by doubling back to search for a lost camera. Unfortunately the 20 minute search did not turn up the missing camera. But, as the defeated search party walked back to their packs what did they see but the camera sitting in the middle of the track not ten metres from where the search had started!
It wasn’t until late afternoon that the lighthouse appeared in any great size and the cameras started to come out more frequently as the achievement sunk in. We arrived at the water wheel where Simon and some interested onlookers greeted us and clapped us over the line. There were warm embraces and handshakes all around as we all celebrated the completion of one of Australia’s great coastal walks.
That evening as the champagne was popped, the group was joyous and lots of plans were hatched for the next adventure. Team 2 won the quiz despite the protest!
Inspiration Outdoors would like to thank everyone for helping to make this such a great experience. There was such a supportive, friendly atmosphere all week and we hope to see you all again. Thanks especially to Nirala for her wonderful catering and Glenbrook for their fine hospitality.
Emily + Simon