A Cape to Cape Walk with Walk into Luxury
Wednesday, 3rd August 2016
Australasia specialist, Naomi, travelled to the land Down Under with Tourism Western Australia and experienced the world-famous Cape to Cape track… from gourmet packed lunches to sunset bubbles and breathtaking vistas in between, read about Naomi’s epic adventure below.
It’s a daunting thought to wake up and know that in less than a couple of hours you will be spending the day hiking with a group of people you barely know, on a track you have never set eyes on, with a complete mixed group of ages and abilities.
“What if it’s just too hard? Or you get a blister? Or there are snakes?!”
Well in late February 2016, I was faced with these thoughts as I awoke; nervously anticipating the 9am start of our full day hiking the first part of the Cape to Cape Track.
The Cape to Cape Track is Australia’s newest Great Walk of Australia – a title craved by many, and attained by few. Located in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia, the start – a little over 3 hours south of Perth – is at the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste and the end, a challenging 135km south, at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
The ‘track’ which itself morphs between boardwalks, scrambling rocks, tarmacked paths and even sand, runs along the spine of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge straight through the heart of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Having earnt notoriety for its stunning vistas, fascinating caves and rock formations throughout Australia and the rest of the world, it’s a walk teetering on the edge of worldwide fame… and I was going to walk it.
“Clearly a symbol of greatness. Would it live up to its title?”
An hour after waking up and wolfing down a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, we were in the car park of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, about to meet our guide, nervously packing sunscreen into pockets and ensuring we had enough plasters to last us all ten great walks over. Before any of us could visit the lighthouse loos for the umpteenth time, over strode a very tall, very tanned gentleman wearing a Walk into Luxury sunhat and carrying 6 matching, rather swish looking Walk into Luxury Backpacks. It could have been Christmas – never have I seen 6 adults quite so excited about a backpack before… but, on closer inspection the excitement was totally, 100% justified. We were each given a named backpack that came with full platypus, flannel, two factor sun-creams, lip balm, hat, map, wet wipes and more… PLUS the front section of the backpack was specially designed to act as a refrigerated cooling section for our picnic lunch. Out of 6 people, we had one veggie, one fish no meat, one gluten free and one chicken only – enough requirements to test even the most patient of chefs – but Walk into Luxury took our fussy diets in their strides.
After a 5 minute safety briefing where our guide Dean enlightened us about his infamous “snake stick”, demonstrated how to use the emergency GPS tracker and emphasised the importance of not straying of the track, wearing sunscreen and above all else staying hydrated we set off like children following the tune of Pied Piper, just minus the pipe and with a snake stick substituted instead.
After the whole of about 3-and-a-half minutes, we soon realised the snake stick was more for Dean’s comical amusement and not really an implement required for our mortal protection. In all the years he had been walking the Cape to Cape track, Dean said only once had he seen a snake on the path, and that had slithered off before he could even get his camera out. So on we went in an order that felt natural to us, sometimes in a formal single file formation other times arms linked two-by-two. Dean allowed us to stop as and when we wanted, to sip some water, snack on our gourmet provisions or snap away endlessly at the mind boggling views, yet all the while he would gently encourage us to keep moving forward, conscious he had to make sure we actually walked from A to B within the timeframe allowed.
“The first hour or so of the track was a solid boardwalk allowing us to simply stare in wander- from the greenery around us to the endless golden beaches and surf below.”
We stopped for an informal photo shoot standing atop a huge sandstone boulder jutting out with views of the ocean, before beginning a short climb up a ridge to the viewpoint above. About ten minutes later, with thighs burning, we reached the top of the ridge and were welcomed with panoramic views of the Western Coast. We could see Cape Naturaliste lighthouse from where we had started and Dean pointed out the end destination – a few hours’ walk away just on the horizon of our vision. The only sight we didn’t see was other hikers, not a single soul but ours. Atop the ridge, the terrain morphed from rocky boulders to a firm track covered with a smattering of sand, the greenery creeped ever closer and Dean took charge using his trusty snake stick to clear a wide berth for his gaggle of UK hikers.
An hour-and-a-half later we found ourselves traversing down a steep rock face using the natural stone steps to guide our way. Single file with Dean at the lead we made it down safely and smoothly to the rockpool below down at sea level. Walking shoes came off, socks were abandoned and hot feet plunged into the surprisingly cold water of the Indian Ocean. Dean suggested we take a dip to cool off, but he had clearly momentarily forgotten he was asking a group of Brits to voluntarily jump into ice cold water… idyllic Indian Ocean or not, paddling in the rock pool was quite enough excitement for one day!
Back we climbed after our relaxing albeit dry encounter with the vast Indian Ocean, with the final hour-and-a-half to go. All of us were openly in awe at the distance we seemed to have covered in just a few hours, the walking was never too strenuous nor ever too easy, the perfect balance that could be made harder or easier by altering the pace. Spirits at an all time high as the temperature cooled, and the end point – the luxury Indijup Spa appearing ever closer, we sang ourselves home.
“Before we knew it we were crossing the last kissing gate, moments from completing our day on the Cape to Cape Walk.”
I’m not going to lie, we were all rather excited about the prospect of a shower followed by a refreshing glass of bubbles as we watched the sun set over the ocean, yet every single one of us was just a little bit gutted we couldn’t carry on tomorrow and walk just a few more miles of the absolutely stunning Cape to Cape Walk. An absolute highlight in the trip of a lifetime. Alas, there is always next year…
Experience the Cape to Cape walk…
… or any of the other Great Walks of Australia on any tailor-made holiday. Speak to our accredited Aussie Travel Specialists or send us an online enquiry.