Cape to Cape Track (WA)


Overview

Located in the world famous Margaret River Wine Region, the 135 kilometre Cape to Cape Track is Australia's longest coastal trail. Stretching from Cape Naturaliste in the north to the south-western most point of the Australian mainland at Cape Leeuwin.


Spectacular views of Contos Beach from limestone sea cliffs

Over its 135 kilometres, the Cape to Cape Track explores an impressively rugged coastal ridge, traversing pristine beaches, wildflower-filled heath, granite and limestone cliff tops as well as an inland section through the westernmost stand of Karri forest in Australia.


The granitic-gneiss formation of Sugarloaf Rock

Along its route, the Cape to Cape Track passes through a number of coastal settlements and is thus not a true wilderness walk. In spite of the area's significant development as a world famous wine region, the coastline has largely been kept in a wild and pristine state, with much of the walking between the towns having a surprisingly wild feel.


Crossing the Margaret River Mouth at Prevelly

While generally mellow compared to some other coastal walks like the South Coast Track in Tasmania or the West Coast Trail in Canada, long stretches of potentially soft beach walking, more spartan campsites and a potentially dangerous rivermouth crossing at Prevelly make it arguably more difficult that the Bibbulmun Track - Western Australia's other famous multi-day hike.



The free campsite at Moses Rock

While the Bibbulmun Track's well-spaced shelters generally dictate a walker's itinerary, the Cape to Cape Track has a more open-ended design, allowing for significant customisation in itinerary. Walkers take anywhere from 5-8 days to complete the walk, and can choose to stay in a variety of different accommodation types, ranging from the free, spartan campsites scattered along the track to hotels and chalets in the towns.


The beautiful Quininup Falls near Moses Rock


Our Cape to Cape Track Adventure (2017)

Alissa and I started the Cape to Cape Track at Cape Naturaliste on 23rd September, 2017, finishing at Cape Leeuwin on the 30th September. Our itinerary was based on John Chapman's recommendations with some minor variations to allow us to finish in Prevelly on day three and walk straight from Contos to Hamelin Bay.

In spite of the fact the Cape to Cape can be walked for free and is in a busy and popular tourism region, walking along the track is surprisingly quiet; while major tourist attractions like Sugarloaf Rock, Quininup Falls, Hamelin Bay and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse can be very busy, there are long stretches of the track that are only accessible by foot. The result is an impressive sense of remoteness in spite of the relatively close proximity to wineries, popular surf spots and settlements.

Due to the fact some of the beach exits can be a bit confusing, I would thoroughly recommend all walkers use The Cape to Cape Track Guidebook by Jane Scott and Ray Forma as it is an indispensable resource for hikers. Although the book's somewhat large but thin profile can be a bit awkward, it is a well written guidebook that is updated with some regularity.

While there is no direct public transport to either trailhead, TransWA buses travel up and down the Leeuwin-Naturaliste coast, linking most of the major towns. From Dunsborough, walkers can either book a taxi for transfers to Cape Naturaliste or walk the Meelup Trail to the northern terminus. For transfers to and from Cape Leeuwin, taxi transfers are more intermittent as the operator works part-time - it is best to call ahead to ensure service. There are many other private operators up and down the coast, and it might be possible to arrange pick up and drop offs with accommodation providers.

One logistical challenge of the track is the Margaret River Mouth which can be deep and swift during winter and early Spring. Parks and Wildlife offer an alternative winter route that is a bit boring, however it is sometimes possible to arrange a kayak across the river with Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. The well regarded company also provide other services that may be useful for walkers who prefer to walk independently but would like some assistance in logistics.

Going into the Cape to Cape Track, Alissa and I were not sure what to expect given that it is not a true wilderness walk, however we were pleasantly surprised by how pristine the coastline has been kept. While I initially wanted to be a thru-hiking purist and stay at campsites all the way, we really came to embrace being able to have a shower and comfortable bed every other day given this is a rare luxury. One thing I've realised recently is that I hike mainly to experience beautiful and unusual landscapes rather than to put away long kilometres for the sake of it, and by that measure I found the Cape to Cape to be closer to the Overland Track in terms of providing awe-inspiring sights per kilometre than the somewhat compromised nature of the Bibbulmun Track. While some areas of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park were undoubtedly more exciting than others, there were no boring days over our entire weeklong hike. Overall, the Cape to Cape Track is a pleasure to walk, and we enjoyed it enough that we'd do it again in the future.

Podcast


In Episode 23 of Real Trail Talk, Mark Pybus from the Life of Py, Dr. Erika Jacobson from Edgewalkers and I discussed this fantastic trail as we followed the day to day journey of the track southbound. Click on the link to have a listen or search for Real Trail Talk on iTunes or Podbean.


The Sections


Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Cape Naturaliste to Yallingup

Day one of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, this walk takes hikers from the northern trailhead at Cape Naturaliste to the coastal settlement of Yallingup. Initially following a wheelchair accessible section to the stunning Sugarloaf Rock, the walk then follows beautiful coastal cliffs and a short beach walk to Yallingup. A short but excellent first day, this a great introduction to the wonders of Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park...

Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Yallingup to Moses Rock 

Day two of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, this relatively challenging day on the track takes walkers from Yallingup to the campsite at Moses Rock. Crossing several brooks over the course of the day, the track passes by some of the most rugged granite-dominated landscapes of the entire track, including such highlights as Smiths Point, Canal Rocks and Quininup Falls. Another scenic day of walking the Leeuwin-Naturaliste coast....


Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Moses Rock to Prevelly

Day three of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, this long 34.4 kilometre day links Moses Rock to Prevelly via Gracetown and Ellensbrook. Passing by the beautiful Wilyabrup Cliffs and granite-dominated coastline leading to Gracetown, the track heads inland to the historic Ellensbrook Homestead and Meekadarabee Cave. Crossing Wilyabrup Brook and the mouth of the Margaret River itself, this is one of the track's most challenging...

Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Prevelly to Contos

Day four of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, this relatively easy day on the track takes walkers from Prevelly to Contos. Initially heading inland before descending steeply to the Boodjidup Brook crossing, the track then follows Boodjidup and Redgate Beaches before taking walkers to the limestone cliffs at Bob's Hollow. With spectacular views of Contos Beach, this is another fantastic stretch of the Cape to Cape....








Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Contos to Hamelin Bay


Day five of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, Contos to Hamelin Bay features a sustained section of inland walking. Initially taking in the beautiful Peppermint Trees of Point Rd, the track passes through the spectacular Karri-dominated Boranup Forest. Heading to the coast via Boranup Hill Lookout, a surprisingly enjoyable 9 kilometre beach walk leads to the idyllic beachside locality of Hamelin Bay. A unique and different day...

Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Hamelin Bay to Deepdene


Day six of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, the short 10 kilometre penultimate day from Hamelin Bay to Deepdene takes walkers along some impressively rugged coastal scenery, including a series of limestone Blowholes and the return of rugged granite headlands. Nestled behind some dunes, Deepdene is a lovely final campsite on the track after a fairly cruisy day of walking....

Cape to Cape Track (WA) - Deepdene to Cape Leeuwin


The final day of a seven day thru-hike of the Cape to Cape Track, Deepdene to Cape Leeuwin takes walkers from wild beaches to the tallest lighthouse on the Australian mainland. Starting as a beach walk before heading along rocky platforms and cliffs, the track ends at Australia's south-westernmost point. An excellent final day on a superb track....

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