How did you survive the school holidays? I was lucky enough to hike the Cape to Cape track with my husband, just the two of us. It was BLISS!
I’m all for taking kids hiking, but not when it’s 20 km a day! And not when there’s a chance for some Awesome Holiday Babysitting. Our kids stayed with their younger cousins and had a blast, riding bikes, playing chasie and exploring from a super dog-friendly Margaret River holiday house (a million thanks to my fab sister and her fab hubbie!!)
And we got our hike on! It was the first time we’ve done a big hike since the kids were born. AND it was ACE!
We were lucky to have AMAZING weather and incredible luck with camp sites, friendly advice, river crossings, the works! There were a few drops of rain at night, but nothing our tent couldn’t handle. And if it rained on the nights we were in a real bed, I can’t say I noticed 🙂
For those who are keen for a hiking challenge, the Cape to Cape comes 100% recommended. You pass through some of our south-west’s loveliest towns, so you can break your trip up with meals at great cafes, drink real coffees, stock up on chocolate, etc, as you hike through.
We saw snakes and kangaroos and whales and dolphins and birds and lizards and massive man-eating ants (well, big ants, anyway).
We walked rugged coastlines and through head-high wildflowers and down 365 stairs (and back up the other side!).
We walked along soft sandy beaches, past yawning caves, across rocky rivers and through gorgeous Karri forest.
We chatted and sang and talked to flowers (yes, and they talked back). It was glorious!
If you do want to hike the Cape to Cape with your kids, go for it, but make sure you’ve tried some shorter walks first… We met two kids hiking the full track: both were experienced hikers, both were aged 13-15, and both were LOVING it and always out in front, leading the way for their parents. So. Cool.
Mission Cape to Cape (127ish km)
There are a zillion ways to walk the Cape to Cape track, including guided tours, cottage accommodation that drops you off and picks you up each day, campsites and free camping (which is allowed in the national park only for hikers walking the track).
We spent many hours studying the maps and book and this was the itinerary we decided on in the end:
Time of year: Late September, after a wet winter. The water tanks were all full.
DAY ONE: 21 km – Cape Naturaliste to south of Wyadup
My brother-in-law dropped us at Cape Naturaliste for an early start. It was great to finally be on the track after so much preparation and anticipation. (Luckily, some of that preparation included borrowing a pair of gaiters each. We saw two dugites in the first hour, so gaiters quickly became our best friends)(Gaiters are also useful for keeping sand out of your shoes when you’re walking in soft sand.)
We walked through to Yellingup for a truly lush lunch at Shaana’s (I totally recommend the Superfood Summer Bowl). We sat on a cool shady couch, soaked up the holiday scene, and congratulated ourselves on the first phase of our journey. I’d been worried about whether we would make the distance each day, and here, for the first time, I was confident that we would 🙂
We hiked on, totally blown away by the clifftop scenery and wildflowers, then stopped at La Monts for an overpriced afternoon tea. The place was all concrete, no views…We wouldn’t stop here next time.
We hiked on, somehow missing the water just before Rotary Lookout and instead using a purifier to treat water from a stream further along the track. We filled to max capacity: around 4.5 litres each from this point. This is a huge volume of water, but we needed it to last us through dinner, breakfast and on till lunch-ish the next day.
We walked past a whale carcass on the beach just as the sun was setting…beautiful and sad all at the same time.
A kilometre or two south of Wyadup, we chose an amazing clifftop campsite. We’d tried to get four-walled accommodation, but no-one would have us for just one night due to the long weekend. Just as well. It was glorious.
DAY TWO: 21 km – South of Wyadup to south of Guillotine
We woke at dawn to see dolphins surfing the waves and whales passing by offshore. AMAZING!
We hiked on to Moses Rock Camp Site to refill our water. We hiked quite a few hours with fully loaded packs (So Much Water!), wanting to extend this day by a few kilometres to make Day Three a few kilometres shorter.
Well worth it! We ended the day exhausted but satisfied, scoring a sheltered campsite, tucked between the rocks south of Guillotine. The sound of the surf was like a jet engine all night.
Also, I’m not afraid to admit I was in so much pain I couldn’t roll over without waking up.
But also, I was stoked and excited. I was so stoked and excited, I was like a Tardis for being stoked and excited.
DAY THREE: 22 km – South of Guillotine to Prevelly
We were up again at dawn, spurred on by the promise of a shower and a real bed. We stopped for an amazing coffee at the gorgeous Gracetown General Store (they also have fresh bread, rawsome treats, hiking supplies, designer tees, you name it!).
Then it was up over the headland, past the reluctant-to-move dinosaurs, and on. We filled our bottles at Ellensbrook campsite, then continued past the winter diversion with the aim of crossing Margaret River.
We’d heard rumours that, after our wet winter, the crossing was too dangerous (the words “chest-deep” and “quicksand” were used together in a sentence), but every hiker we met said the river could be crossed if you chose your spot carefully. We took off our packs to experiment with spots, and ended up crossing right at the sandbank, where the waves came racing in, and it was (mostly) knee-deep and (OMG-refreshingly) cold. In our heads, the Margaret River crossing was the real crux of the whole hike — and we did it!
Yeeeha! Reward time: We spent that night at Surfpoint Resort with a real bed (!!!) and an en suite (!!!) and shouted ourselves non-dehydrated dinner and a happy hour cold beer/G&T at The Common, just 100 metres down the road. BLISS. All/most/some of the aches and pains faded into track-ready muscles overnight. Serious.
DAY FOUR: 17km – Prevelly to Contos
We slept in till White Elephant Cafe opened at 7.30, then voluntarily added around a kilometre to our day just to feast on their super-tasty coconut bircher muesli and enjoy yet another great coffee plus incredible view for breakfast.
We plunged 365 steps down to Boodjidup Brook to marvel at a bridge that conservation volunteers had built, carrying in all the steel by hand! Like several spots along the track, this glade was infested with arum lily.
We saw endangered hooded plovers racing across the beach on their long legs, drank the best miso soup in the world ever while sitting on a dreamy white-sanded beach, admired the rugged landscape of Bob’s Hollow with its caves and cliffs.
We’d pulled into our pre-paid campsite at Contos that afternoon – we’d booked a site at Whistler’s Circle, which is really close to the start of the next day’s hike. There was a smoking log in the fire pit, so we were able to restart a wood fire just by adding a few twigs. It was terrific to have a wood fire. We stared into the dreamy flames for the half hour of semi-darkness during which we were still awake. And when we crawled into our tent, we could actually bend and move and twist in the required ways to facilitate sleeping bag entry. Something that hadn’t been possible on Day Two. Ahhh, that was a proud moment.
DAY FIVE: 22km – Contos to Hamelin Bay
Like angels in disguise, my parents (who walked the Cape to Cape nearly two decades ago, when it was just a bare-bottomed baby) arrived early with bananas, bacon-and-egg pie (thank you Mum!), and…drumroll…our day packs!! We left our pack-packs in the boot of their car, complete with cooker and gas, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. All we carried was food, water, an extra layer of clothes, and a first aid kit. So light! We felt we could fly.
We strolled through the Boronup Forest, which was all piping birdsong and misty trees. Superb.
Then we ended the day with a tough 6 km walk to Hamelin Bay. This stretch of beach must cop the wrong sort of current, because it was littered from top to bottom with bottle caps, discarded glow sticks, bits of lost rope, glass and plastic bottles…all kinds of junk. As we walked, we filled a plastic bag. It soon overflowed! We lugged it all the way to the caravan park skip bins – very satisfying!
We then eagerly treated ourselves to another steaming hot shower and another real bed. The caravan park also has a general store selling chocolates, ice creams, potato chips…all the things we dreamed of… We may or may not have collapsed on the bed while shovelling junk food and watching a Jennifer Aniston rom-com (there are DVDs at reception ;-)).
DAY SIX: 24km – Hamelin Bay to Cape Leeuwin
This killer day wasn’t as tough as I was expecting. There was around 10 kilometres of beach walking, but much of it was across rocks, past blowholes, or along tropical-island-paradise-style lagoons. Not too hard to bear. Plus, we were track-hardened, so we veritably skipped along, soaking up the sunshine and the wide blue and green spaces. Hearts = Full.
We passed the Foul Bay Lighthouse, and could see the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse from pretty early in the day, and despite some false alarms, I can confirm that it really did — very slowly — become larger as we walked.
The final bit of track was just as deluxe as the rest of it: families of ducklings in a fresh-ish water bay, blue tongue lizards sunning on the rocks, gorgeous single track pathways winding through flowers…and So Much Satisfaction.. We were going to make it!
As we reached the track-end, a friend from school was randomly there (total coincidence! thanks Jac!) to take our end-of-adventure photo. What terrific timing!! And what a terrific time. We loved it! Our car was waiting in the carpark, dropped off earlier in the day by my sister. We jumped in and drove away, but the great feeling has remained.
This is a totally recommended hike. If you want to do it independently, you need to be moderately fit: I practised by carrying a daypack full of dumbbells up and down our street…also totally recommended…I swear, it works!
You also need to be strong in the determination department, and confident in your on-track cooking and water management.
If you want to do it with a bit more luxury, quite a few B&Bs or tour operators offer catered day-hike options which looked fabulous!
YAY! I’ve wanted to do this hike for YEARS!!!
If you’ve been thinking about doing the Cape to Cape track, I hope this itinerary helps you in your planning.
And if you’ve never thought about doing it…I hope it has planted a seed. Try a day hike or two, then an overnight hike (on the Bibbulmun is a great place to start), then off you go!
And if you can think of nothing worse than six days of sand, sub-standard sanitation and muscle pain, then don’t despair. You can still experience the gorgeous clifftop walks and secluded beachs with a day hike or two.
Stay somewhere in the south-west, hike during the day, and book-end your efforts with great food, local wine, hot showers and a comfy bed.
*sigh* How lucky are we!?!?!