|Cape to Cape Walk Margaret River
Sunday 19 th November – Saturday 25 th November 2017
As well as spending time with Peter and enjoying Perth one of the main activities we wished to undertake was a significant part of the Cape to Cape walk along the South West Coast of Australia. To do that we had rented a lodge in a working beef farm in the Margaret River area. The lodge was very spacious with enough room for Mike and Judie Hill who were also in Australia and keen to do the walk and for Peter to join us when off duty from the hospital.
Sue and I drove down to Wyadup which was a drive South if Perth through Freemantle, Bunbury stopping en route to meet Tom and Joan who are the current custodians of the Cape to Cape who had invited us to lunch. Their daughter being a pharmacist and worked with Peter whilst he was doing a palliative care rotation.We gained some really good information from them which was helpful.
The lodge was great, the farm had a regular flock of black ibis, green parrots and pink and grey galahs, all of which were a delight to watch and very easy to find due to the noise they made.The lodge or bungalow was ideal, very peaceful with no ambient light making the night skies a dazzling show of stars.
Monday 20th November
We started our 4 day Cape to Cape walk, Judy from the farm picked us up enabling us to drop one of the cars at the end point and delivering us to the start of our walk
The first leg of the Cape to Cape walk, started at Cape Naturaliste and ending at Cape Leeuwin.
It’s a coastal walk, of exceptional beauty, reminiscent of the Cornish coastal path with a distinctive Australian character of its own. It is exceptional in that it just goes on and on, turquoise beaches, amazing waves, pockets of surfers, remembrance stones to those who have been taken by sharks from these idyllic looking beaches and very frequent sighting of dolphins who in the turquoise sea looked like young men in tight shiny grey suits gambling in the sea.
The first day was allegedly an easy walk with much of the path being suitable for wheel chairs early on we came up on a snake , Black and at least eight foot long , but gets longer in the telling each time slithering across the track, so many people we had spoken to had said to be careful of the snakes, some are good guys and some are deadly. I am sure this one was one of the bad guys. This caused me some alarm, and due care and attention was paid to where I was walking at all times!
This turned out to be the longest and surprisingly the toughest day of the walk, it being hot and we not being familiar with the terrain.We carried three litres of water with us and drank two and half but probably should have drunk more, it was hot. Even though there are so many beautiful walks in in the UK in comparison this was an exceptional coast line.Later we went for a walk around Wyadup farm, admiring some of the beautiful trees in flower encountering the the green parrots for the first time who were all feeding on grass seed and suddenly the whole flock flew into the air deafening us and turning the tree a bright green colour , in addition there were a number of pink and grey galahs, competing with the green parrots for the seeds .
That afternoon we went for a beer at Occy’s a lovely typical Australian bar with wooden benches and places outdoors to suit in a small town called Dunsborough.They had the most delightful salt and pepper squid which we had as a snack after our walk, we were surprisingly tired. Later we enjoyed a glass of wine in our lodge before heading for a fish restaurant which felt like it was in the middle of nowhere and a cross between a service station and a trendy bar,the salt and pepper squid was delicious.
We had decided to modify the lengths of the sections of the track we undertook each day as we felt we were being a bit over optimistic in the heat even though we were out of the lodge and on our way by 7.30each morning.
Whilst heading up a path we stopped to chat to two women who are part of a conservation group counting whales, we also spotted a pod of dolphins who were putting on an impressive display which we watched and enjoyed for some time, the whale watchers pointed us in the direction of a very good whale watching spot, which we went to the next day.They also helpfully told us to be aware of the snakes and what to do if we were bitten, no problem if I got bitten as I would die of shock before anyone could do anything. However the shark helicopter flew over each day, looking for sharks and would apparently descend to tell surfers to get out of the water, so maybe rescue would be available if anyone was bitten by one of the bad guys.
The hardest part of the walk are the beach sections on sand but today’s walk was just right in length, we stopped often to admire the view, look for dolphins and whales
At the end of the walk we called in on our way home at a winery, Swings and Roundabouts, very close toWyadup cottage and sampled various wines. There was a lot on offer so we had to exercise some restraint. We bought a bottle for Christmas.
This was a day off from walking the track. We all went into Busselton where, Judy and Mike and I walked along the mile long jetty, seeng a pod of dolphins along the way. Peter came from Perth via train and we all met up for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beach. In the afternoon we we went to the whale watching spot recommended by the two women the previous day, where we saw two blue whales quite a long way out and talked to the organiser of the whale watching volunteers. Following that we went back to Canal rocks which we had passed on the walk the previous day. This is an inlet along the coast line where water is forced through a small gap, making a wild and impressive foaming spectacle, with a bridge which entices young men and women to time the wave and jump into the swirling pool below
After that we went off to a natural ‘ spa ‘ which is where rocks and waves form a turbulent pool, further along the coastline. As we walked towards this jacuzzi like natural pool we encountered a snake on the pathwhich we think was a python which was very confidently crossing the track, with two bumps in its body suggesting it had recently had a meal, which was probably good news. I was off back up the track like a whippet until I was sure it wasn’t one of the bad guys. It had no interest in us ,it was about 3 metres long and certainly didn’t slither out of our way as we had been led to believe that snakes would.I have to admit it had very beautiful markings, some Aussies near by came to look, declaring you don’t see a snake that big that often here. After clambering over rocks to get to the natural spa we saw a much smaller snake, also a python (we think), hidden in some crannies between the rocks.We had been told by other walkers about this snake, it was sleeping, but people kept going close and I was sure it would wake up, so was in risk assessment overload on red alert for anything, keeping an eye out for large python and a sleeping snake who might wake up.A few minutes later my phone rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin and almost fell off the rocks.
We went on home to Wyadup Brook Cottage, eating in, our first evening with Peter at the cottage. We enjoyed some really good Margaret River wine each evening eating in or eating out.
Back to day three of our walk which had slightly different terrain. The encounter of the day was I am glad to say the sighting of a kangaroo and joey in the undergrowth. It was as interested in us as we were of it so we all spent sometime looking at each other, the kangaroo choosing a rock to look down on us. The weather was perfect, not too hot, the group of five enjoying the walk and good company and a bonus for me Peter and I shared a ruck sac and he carried it.
The final day of the walk and the shortest one, the roads and ability to park a car meant either a very very long walk or a slightly shorter than usual walk which is what we chose. The track was well marked and the encounter of the day was a snarling Bob Tail, a lizard type creature who is harmless but one must admire his courage at starting an argument with five of us. After a few spats he was on his way, his movements rather interesting in the movement of his lizard like skin which gave the impression of him moving like a clockwork toy.
Over the four days we completed 60 kms of coastal path.It was a very enjoyable walk which was not always easy due to the heat and the terrain, particularly the beach sections and for me any bushy sections where I could not see what I was walking on.It was very enjoyable walk and one to be remembered.
We ended the walk at Ellenbrook House, a historic site, home of some early settlers, I was full of admiration for how they settled, built houses, farmed and and lived in what was undoubtedly a very tough environment miles from anywhere
We went on to Gracetown beach, where we had intended to swim as it was very hot but were deterred by a really cold wind. Instead of swimming we went off to Margaret River had a beer and coffee and then went down to the river mouth, a surfers paradise and a magnificent beach
Then, a massage from a Chinese masseur who was excellent, who offered me herbal plasters for my stiff neck, don’t think so. An evening of packing up and celebrating the end of the trek and Peter’s recent exam success and eating out at the fish restaurant again and consuming a bottle of sparkling wine from Swings and Roundabouts.
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26 th November
We packed up and left the cottage. We said goodbye to Judie and Mike who went back to Perth and on to Adelaide by train. We proceeded to the boat which was to take Sue, Peter and I on a whale watching trip. It was a really lovely trip, it was calm to start with all passengers enjoying the trip and then it got so rough, really rough, there was only the three of us and a couple of other passengers who even looked out from the boat, everyone else was sea sick - we saw a humpback whale and her calf really close, but speedily heading off down the coast. . The boat was a large catamaran but we got thrown about a bit, having to hang on to railings and getting totally drenched. The sun was so hot we dried out when we got back on dry land in a matter of minutes Then to lunch at Eagle breweries near Eagle Bay, a beautiful winery and made our way back to Perth. The night was spent in a motel ready for the second leg of our travels to Indonesia and the Island of Sumatra. Sunday was spent with Peter, sailing a Hobie Catamaran on the Swan river which was exhilarating and exciting. We got soaked with water coming up through the canopy but the river was amazingly warm and once again we dried off quickly once off the water.Peter was on duty at Fiona Stanley hospital that evening so we off loaded some of our gear to him which we had decided not to take to Sumatra. I have learnt a lot about clothing, what is good in a hot english summer is not necessarily the right clothing for Australia and Asia. Took some clothes with me which I gave to Indonesians in Sumatra, shorts which were so hot they stick where they touch, Joules trousers which were perfect in the UK summer and for the evening cover up to availed mosquitos but again far too hot. The daughter of our jungle guide is now the owner of those items and apparently delighted which is great.
Monday sees an early start for our flight to Sumatra.There is some uncertainty regarding our Garuda flight as we transfer through Denpasar the airport on Bali changing planes to fly up to Medan in Sumatra. This is due to the volcano, Mount Agung on Bali threatening to erupt. Virgin, Quantas etc have cancelled flights already but as Garuda is the only airline who is allowed to land anywhere in Indonesia it can change the destination airport even when in the air on the way t8 Bali. The other airline companies cannot do this and have to fly on to Singapore or Kuala Lumpar