Gene Hardy - Cape to Cape Explorer Tours

The physical act of walking, done with repetition over a number of days, is a calming experience.

Away from the distracting aspects of modern life, it offers time to notice, to listen, and to focus on one singular negotiating path forward. The Cape to Cape Track is truly one of the most exceptional multi-day walks in the world. The hike is predominantly coastal terrain, and captures the region’s unique maritime history, beautiful landscapes, and seasonal surprises such as wildflowers, whales, black cockatoos, and lizards. For a multi-day hike, the Cape to Cape is do-able in stages for walkers at most levels. Keep in mind though that it’s always important to plan carefully, carry enough clean water, and communicate your plan with others.

A lot of folks walk the Cape to Cape from north to south, but there’s a good chance you’ll get a southerly wind behind you, so some experienced hikers suggest going from south to north.

If you have an itch to tick the hike off your bucket list, this 6-day breakdown might give you the inspiration you need. It’s by no means definitive, and it’s advisable to check in with tour operators on what sort of hike would work best for you.

Cosy Corner - Augusta Walking Trails. Credit Elements
Cosy Corner. Photo credit Elements Margaret River.

Day 1

Cape Leeuwin – Hamelin Bay (24.72km)

Cape Leeuwin is the most south western tip of Australia. It marks the mapping point where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet. It’s a place of perilous maritime history with many ships wrecked off the coastline before the lighthouse was built in 1896.

Beginning the walk at Cape Leeuwin sets you off onto a track of true wilderness. Cosy Corner bay exposes white limestone rocks and sapphire blue waters. Look out for the endangered hooded plover bird on this stretch too.

Hamelin Bay is a welcome first stop for the night where you can camp at the Hamelin Bay Holiday Park. It’s protected from the wind and the remnants of a wharf built last century tell a story of the once thriving timber industry – when logs were shipped to London. There is a family of sting rays in the bay, who although friendly, are best observed by simply watching and not touching.

Beach Hikes
Parts of the Cape To Cape track involves walking along sandy stretches. Photo credit Ross Wynes.

Day 2

Hamelin Bay – Contos (21.1km)

Another particularly scenic stretch, this part of the coast will take you past Boranup Beach (which involves 7km of beach walking) and onto the cliffs at Contos.

Where the majestic Karri forest once stood thriving, travelling this part of the walk might reveal bushfire blackened terrain from the 2021 Calgardup fire. Luckily, the bushfire was a slow burn and didn’t damage the top canopy of forest, so it will be quite wonderful to watch the resilience of the Australian bush regenerate and regrow over the next 3-4 years.

Wildflowers bloom significantly after bushfires too so keep an eye out for pink fairy orchids and hardenbergia in the burnt heath. Also take notice of the succulent pigface. It has bright pink flowers and can be eaten, the white flesh being sweet and salty to taste.

Contos Beach Margaret River
Contos Beach. Photo credit Elements Margaret River.

Day 3

Contos – Prevelly (19km)

Contos to Prevelly will take you past Redgate Beach where you’ll start to notice signs of life a little more. You may pass beachgoers on the track or see surfers in the swell.

The limestone ridge at the south end of Prevelly will take you down to the creekline of Boodjidup Brook. It’s a pleasant walk along white sand that will meet up with the township of Prevelly where you could treat yourself to a pie from the General Store and a well facilitated campsite for the night.

Gracetown Beach. Credit Dylan Alcock
Gracetown Beach. Photo credit Dylan Alcock.

Day 4

Prevelly – Gracetown (18km)

This section of the track is popular with day hikers, so you’ll start to pass a few more people on the track. If the river is flowing, be prepared to get wet when walking across the Rivermouth.

The beach coves north of here, Kilcarnup and Joey’s Nose, are popular with families teaching kids to surf in the shallow breaks. You’ll meander roughly 5.5km through sand dunes that will take you past the Meekadarbee Falls then just before Gracetown, you’ll spot the historic settlement of Ellensbrook on Mokidup. The white-washed oasis has picnic tables under shaded trees and is a reliable pit stop for a bite to eat.

Wilyabrup Views Photo credit Cape To Cape Explorer Tours
The Wilyabrup Cliffs. Photo credit Cape To Cape Explorer Tours.

Day 5

Gracetown – Injidup (22.8km)

Gracetown has had its fair share of tragedies with a fatal shark attack and a cliff collapse rocking the community in the not-so-distant past. But setbacks have only made the people here stronger, and you might notice friendly interactions and encounters along this stretch of the coast.

Be prepared for a bit of rock hopping north of Gracetown. Amongst the rocks, you can keep your eyes out for abalone. The local delicacy are not actually shellfish, but reef dwelling marine snails, and are served in restaurants throughout the region.

From the Wilyabrup cliffs, look out for whales breaching at sea between July to December.

Canal Rocks
Canal Rocks.

Day 6

Injidup – Cape Naturaliste (23.56km)

The last stretch reveals spectacular granite outcrops at Canal Rocks, and the kilometre from Smiths Beach to the coastal hamlet of Yallingup is a truly rewarding vista. You’ll glimpse surfers and dolphins in the swell, and melaleuca trees amongst the scrub on land.

Treat yourself to a fancy meal in Yallingup (and fancy on the Cape to Cape means good pub grub). Hunt out Caves House Hotel which was built in 1903 at a cost of £2,729 to service early tourists visiting Ngilgi Cave. Towards the end of the hike, you’ll encounter Sugar Loaf Rock – a popular natural landmark for photographers. The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is a mighty setting for celebration after the six-day hike. Finish with a well-deserved meal and a pint at Eagle Bay Brewing Co just down the road.

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