Walking the Cape to Cape is not just an introduction to the Margaret River region, but an insight into what makes things tick down in the southwest corner of Australia. Here’s how to break it down for the most memorable experience.
However you walk it, and however long it takes, it is unlikely to be an experience you will ever forget.
Margaret River is famed for its wine, the making of which relies heavily upon the environment. The Mediterranean climate here, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet, is credited as a key factor in the rise of wines from the region, offering cool respite to long sunny days. And while the food and wine of the region are undoubtedly a draw, it is ultimately the diverse landscape, coastal lifestyle, and an ability to experience it daily that pulls people to this southwest corner of Western Australia.
At 135km, the Cape to Cape has the advantage over longer distance walks in Western Australia. It offers a challenge that can be completed end to end in less than a week, or like the locals, you can choose to break it into sections.
Best foot forward
Running from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, a self-guided walk requires the planning and preparation that you would put into any long distance walk, but there is also a wealth of guided options that allow you to think only of what is around you.
An expert guide does not just take care of the logistics but gives you the insight into the landscape, the biodiversity and history. Guides in the region include Margaret River Discovery Company and Cape to Cape Explorer Tours, with Walk into Luxury as Western Australia’s first inclusion into the Great Walks of Australia. If self-guided is the way for you, a copy of The Cape to Cape Track Guidebook (Jane Scott and Ray Forma, Cape to Cape Publishing) is the definitive guide to the walk.
The Cape to Cape is not a passive experience. It is one that will awaken the senses from start to finish. Depending on the season the flora and fauna will vary, from land to ocean. Spotting whales off the coast between June and December is common, as are the wildflowers from August to October.
Section by section
You can break the walk into manageable sections, perhaps five. Sean Blocksidge from Margaret River Discover Company says the walk should not be treated like a race: “Give yourself time to stop and smell the wildflowers.”
Section one starts at Cape Naturaliste and heads south, taking you from the lighthouse to Wyadup Steps by icons of the coastline, Sugarloaf Rock and Canal Rocks.
From the Quinninup Clifftop Seat to Willyabrup Cliffs (section two) you walk a mixture of limestone and granite, which takes in Quininup Falls, in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, just north of Moses Rock. Between Meekadarabee Falls and the river mouth of the Margaret River (section three) you might consider the history of the region, from the original owners of the land to the European settlers. Meekadarabee means 'bathing place of the moon', while at Ellensbrook Homestead the National Trust preserves a piece of history. Built by the Bussell family over decades, it is said that everyone from convicts to deserting seamen and local Noongar people worked on its construction.
Contos Beach to Hamelin Bay (section four) takes you from heath-covered clifftops into the regrowth of the Boranup Forest; another story of the region’s recent history, when timber from the region was shipped from the jetty at Hamelin Bay.
A final push from Cosy Corner Blowholes to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (section five) finishes the walk and while the waterwheel, a good way short of the lighthouse is the supposed end of the walk, it seems only right to make your way to the lighthouse. Here at the most south-westerly tip of Australia the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. However you walk it, and however long it takes, it is unlikely to be an experience you will ever forget.
Discover traveller tips, stories and trip planning insights from locals, experts and visitors at justanotherdayinwa.com. Tourism Western Australia is responsible for promoting Western Australia to the world and produces a range of helpful information to help inspire and plan your trip to Western Australia.