Click here to check out Cape to Cape Explorer Tours Autumn Newsletter!
Click here to check out Cape to Cape Explorer Tours Autumn Newsletter!
Last week Nature published the first findings from the Aboriginal Heritage Project, which aims to build the first genetic map of Aboriginal Australia and help indigenous Australians trace their ancestry and family history. Analysing DNA in samples of hair has revealed that since their initial arrival in Australia around 58,000 years ago, communities of Aboriginal people have remarkably remainded in the same regions across the continent.
Studying the mitochondrial DNA from over 111 Aboriginal hair samples collected from across Australia between the 1920’s and 1970’s has uncovered that all Australian Aboriginal’s living today are decedents of the first population to arrive in the country and over 1,500 to 2,000 years, groups of people spread across the land to both east and west coasts before eventually meeting in South Australia. Mitochondrial DNA is often used to trace maternal ancestry and map out ancient linages from deteriorated samples.
“These findings confirm what the Aboriginal community have known all along – that their deep ties with country stretch back thousands of years,” said Dr Raymond Todler, co-author of the study from the University of Adelaide. The study confirms that there is a real deep connection between Aboriginal people and country that has developed over thousands of years.
So far this summer has shaped up to be one of rather tropical characteristics. Warm days, high humidity and unseasonal summer rains in the southwest have created the perfect breeding ground for an array of insects.
With all the extra water around this summer, the insectivorous Slender Tree Frog, along with many other native frogs have been out and about making their presence known along the Track and in our gardens.
With their loud calls, these little beauties are often in great interest to our pets. Be sure to keep a close eye on your dogs and cats if you happen to suspect one of these little guys, or any other type of native animal may be living in your backyard.
They are a small frog, reaching a maximum length of 4.7cms with a narrow and tapering head. They have long slender un-webbed fingers, however their long legs end with webbed toes. These little Amphibians come in a range of colours, from green to all shades of brown.
Often making an appearance through winter and spring, it has been a real treat to spot a few of these guys enjoying all the water and feasting on a variety of tasty morsels so early in the year!
Last week a group of lovely local ladies joined us to take a look at their own backyard and enjoy a pre-wedding celebration for their dear friend Mandy! A hen’s day with a difference, we started the adventure with a hike from Smiths Beach to the Aquarium.
With the weather on our side, we were presented with light winds and clear waters, making a dip in the sheltered waters a highlight for many! In the shade of a marquee we enjoyed a delicious and fresh roll from the Margaret River Bakery before a game of quoits and bocce.
We continued our hike along to coast to eventually reach the protected nook at Canal Rocks. Indulging in an afternoon feast of fresh fruit, dips, cheese, chocolate coated strawberries and of corse, champagne!
Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Mills, we wish you a happy and long future together :).
Up and coming athletes from the UWA West Coast Swimming Club made their way down to Margaret River for a ‘Performance Camp’ to welcome in the new year. In the pool at the Margaret River Recreation Centre and out on the Cape to Cape Track, everyone had a great time focussing on their skills and immersing themselves in the elements.
After a training session in the pool, the first day out on the Track saw these young fish out of water walking from Smiths Beach to Injidup! The team took a dip in the ocean and enjoyed a little snorkel at The Aquarium to cool off.
The following day was spent at the beautiful coastal hamlet of Gracetown where these kids completed a variety of team building challenges. From Spider’s Web, to Leonardo’s Bridge, to Raft Building, the group excelled through the activities by maximising communication and assigning competent leaders.
It was a really rewarding day for the kids and gave them the opportunity to get out of the pool and reconnect with nature together, whilst having to think on their feet.
A great time was had by everyone involved! Well down to all the swimmers and we hope to see them back next year to take on some more of the Cape to Cape Track and continue developing their leadership and team work skills!!!
Looking for a camp for you and your team? Whether you are professional athletes, from the corporate world or just want to pull your organisation together for something fun and rewarding we can tailor a package to suit your needs. Email us at email@example.com so we can meet your needs and create a program to suit your outcomes.
The students from the Margaret River Independent School are always so much fun to take out exploring on the Cape to Cape Track! These local kids spend their days learning in small classes in a beautiful bush setting about 10kms south of Margaret River. The schools vision is to provide an environment that caters for the whole child in development of lifetime learning skills as well as academic and creative excellence. This year, the year one students joined our managing director Gene for an overnight camp full of leadership and team building activities.
We are always impressed by the knowledge and respect that these children have for their local environment! These 6 and 7 year olds are often finishing our sentences when we begin talking about some of our endemic flora and fauna species. Their enthusiasm and connection with nature is inspiring.
As well as walking through the bush, we worked on some of our favourite team building and leadership activities including Spiders Web and Pipeline.
The challenge was set for the children to make their way through the web of the mighty Hamelin Spider, which the kids took to quite well. Without facilitation, they formed a circle, selected a leader and formulated a plan that would see all of their classmates get safely through the web.
The kids were very impressed with themselves after the activity concluded, and rightfully so! Who would have thought that a group of 6 and 7 year olds could make such a great team!?
The class also demonstrated amazing patience and cooperation throughout their pipeline activity, which they very quickly got the hang of. Returning to the Pipeline activity throughout the walk allows the group to try and better their score that is measured by how fast they can move the ball through the pipeline with dropping it to the ground!
The camp finished with an expedition through the awe-inspiring and mighty Giants Cave! With crawling, ladders and sliding, each one of the children made it the entire way through the 500m underground labyrinth. It is always such an empowering experience to reconnect children with their natural environment. As you can see, Cape to Cape Explorer Tours love hosting camps for school and youth groups! We are more than happy to creative a package that suits the needs of your group. Check out our Schools page to find out more information or send us through an email at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
A special thanks to Lauren Trickett for the incredible photos she took throughout the camp.
Heading out to explore a trail or take on a long distance hike for the first time is both an exciting and daunting experience. Around a quarter of our hikers are about to embark on their first ever multi-day long distance walk when we meet them for the first time and what I’ve gathered after two years of guiding on the Cape to Cape Track is that regardless of experience, tips for making your walk more enjoyable are always welcomed! Even with the incredible and awe-inspiring beauty of the Track, walking 20kms a day for 7 days straight is both a physical and mental challenge for even the most fit, experienced or determined. From gear to daily tips, here are some of the most important things to me while I’m out in the elements!
Do your research, then gear up!
Before you hit the shops or online stores, have a good read through your itinerary, planning, preparation and packing notes provided by us! This guide will allow you to go through the equipment you already have and figure out what else you will need to get the most out of your hike.
While you’re here and hiking!
It’s all well and good to be geared up and ready for the elements, but there are also a couple of simple things that might make the hiking days a little easier whilst you’re here with us.
When you get home
It’s important to give yourself some time to recover after your hike. Make sure you take at least a day or two for downtime and to unpack before heading back to work.
I hope these tips and tricks help you plan your next adventure on the Cape to Cape Track! They certainly help me get through lots of days on the Track during our peak seasons. My best advice would be to keep training in the shoes you plan to wear on the Track for long distances on variable terrain. If you are interested in hiking the Track this Autumn, check out our Guided or Self-Guided experience and make sure you book on soon to avoid disappointment!
On Saturday 10th December the team from Cape to Cape Explorer Tours got together to celebrate another amazing year showing hikers the incredible trail that we are all so passionate about! We spent the day under the shade of the Melaleuca tree’s and down on the beach in the beautiful and coastal hamlet of Gracetown.
With low winds and warm weather, we couldn’t have picked a better day to pull the team together and have some fun! Everyone brought along their families to enjoy the festivities which featured diving, fishing and stand up paddle boarding.
A huge hats off to our amazing catering coordinator Lisa for serving us up a feast of freshly BBQ’d local line caught fish, monster sized prawns, delicious healthy salads and yummy deserts. Kudos to all those who helped cooked the BBQ and prepare the food on the day, what a team!
A fantastic feast in the shade!
The day continued after lunch with what to many was the highlight of their day! A massive thank you to Gene and the rest of the Hardy family for bringing down their boat and taking everyone out to give skurfing a shot!
Our Operations Coordinator Saul was a natural!
The beach was also quite a comfortable spot to spend the afternoon!
Thank you to all our staff, their families, our business partners and our clients for making 2016 the best year yet for Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and safe and Happy New Year. We look forward to a sharing a whole lot more fun out on the Track in 2017!
The Margaret River Region lies right in the middle of one of the worlds 36 biodiversity hotspots. With over 7,500 plant species with half of those being found no where else in the world, it should come as no surprise that in 1 hectare of pristine bushland here in the southwest you could find more species than in the entire continent of Europe. The unique environment is accompanied by world class surf, artists creating in all forms of media, premium wines and gourmet food attracting around 2 million visitors annually who together inject over $1 billion into the local economy every year.
It is hard to believe that the Department of Mines and Petroleum would even consider an application for invasive gas exploration that could threaten land, water, air quality and existing industries, such as tourism and agriculture in this pristine part of the world. Although the hype has been amplified through effective campaigning by anti-fracking groups of recent, the exploration and extraction of gas in Western Australia has been underway for well over a decade.
So, what actually is fracking? Also know as hydraulic fracturing or hydraulic stimulation, fracking uses high pressure to fracture rock formations and push grit-containing fluids into the fractures to hold them open allowing the gas to escape. The sand/water slurry can include a range of chemicals with potential health consequences. Why are we bothering to extract unconventional gas? Under Australian land there are huge reserves of gas and their exploitation is seen as an answer to the depletion of conventional gas fields. It is also seen as a more environmentally friendly energy alternative when compared to coal.
What are the problems with fracking in the search of shale or tight (unconventional) gas? Firstly, fracking companies are not required, even by regulation, to disclose the chemicals they are injecting into rock deposits – not even to government regulators. One of the harmful chemicals known to be used in Australian fracking operations is BTEX. BTEX is a volatile organic compound that easily vaporises. It can cause leukaemia, reproductive problems and harm to unborn children. Another risk of fracking is the gasification of groundwater which can result in the water being unfit for human consumption. In the United States fracking fluids are returning to the water surface with radioactive materials, in particular Radium-226 which has an extremely long half-life of over 1,600 years. Additionally onshore gas mining companies are not required to disclose of where fracking is taking place meaning that there is no way to track onshore gas in Western Australia.
Our water and the Margaret River is keystone to the value of this area. The entire southwest region is hydraulically connected (see diagram above) due to underlying geological formations of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and the Yilgarn Craton, a landscape crated over 220 million years. Approximately the top 10m below the surface comprises of the superficial aquifer which lies above the Leederville Aquifer (made up of the Upper Mowen, Lower Mowen, Upper Vasse, Lower Vasse and Yelverton Members) making up the next 100-200m, which is on top of the Sue Coal Measures (where the gas is), which lies upon the Yarragadee Aquifer which in some places flows over 2.5kms under ground. All of the water moves slowly between the aquifers. The Margaret River is one of the healthiest rivers in the entire of southwest of Western Australia. With a small catchment of around 40,000 square kilometres (Whicher Ranges), in the below video our managing director Gene Hardy explains the intrinsic connection between this river, our drinking water and the threats of fracking.
So, where are the current leases for coal seam gas in the Cape to Cape region? CalEnergy Resources, Whicher Range Energy and Bunbury Energy are businesses that all currently have permits for onshore gas exploration in the southwest. There are also current mining leases in the area of the map occupied by Whicher Range Energy.
So, now you know the ins and outs of the intrinsic values of the Margaret River Region, onshore gas exploration and the potential threats to our fresh water supply, and we haven’t even touched the surface on some of the other potential consequences of gas exploration including inadequate indigenous consultation, encroaching on private land, exuberant use of our precious water and industrialisation in our pristine natural environment. What can we do to help create more awareness and ultimately cease any gas exploration and mining in the southwest? Luckily, there are already a few groups and individuals trying their hardest to get the message out of there. Check out the Lock the Gate Alliance and Frack Free WA. Next weekend the John Butler Trio is hosting a ‘Frack Off’ concert at 3 Oceans Winery in Margaret River. Click here to book your ticket now! Patagonia is currently undertaking an unbelievable initiative to encourage people to donate funds with the promise to match, dollar for dollar, to total amount raised. With only 15 days of the campaign left, click here to donate now!
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen a Humpback breach, you still can’t help but to stop in awe of these enormous, majestic and mystical creatures! With adults measuring 12-16 meters in length and weighing in at a whopping 30,000kg there is still something so streamline and weightless about the way they move through the ocean.
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have a life expectancy of at least 48 years, with sexual maturity being reached between four and eight years (average five years). These whales have a gestation of 11-12 months and once their calves are born, they breast feed for a further 10-12 months. Calves become independent between one and five years after birth (sometimes even longer), with a two and a half year average calving interval. This just highlights the immense commitment from these mothers to raise their young.
At the moment hikers on the Cape to Cape Track are experiencing the peak period of migration for population 8 (Group D) of the 15 populations of Humpback’s from around the world. Although this populations was hunted to the brink of extinction throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, they are steadily recovering at a rate of approximately 11% per year with current estimates placing population 8 as the largest aggregation of Humpbacks in the world nearing 50,000 individuals.
Every year, these enchanting creatures take the incredible journey from their feeding grounds in the nutrient rich waters of Antarctica between (70° E and 130° E) all the way up to their breeding area in Australia’s north-west – as far as Camden Sound. The congregation leaves Antarctica around May in an orderly fashion dependent on sex and reproductive status. On their journey to their breeding grounds, lactating females with their yearlings head out first, followed by immature males and females with mature males, resting females and pregnant females making up the tail end charlie aggregation. On their journey south, mixed females, immature males and females leave first, followed by mature males and finally females with calves in early lactation follow.
The whales travel an incredible 9,000kms on their return journey and unbelievably they very rarely feed throughout the entire migration. They tend to stay within 20kms of the coast in waters of depths up to 200m. On their way back to their feeding ground in Antarctica, they hitch a ride in the Leeuwin Current – boosting their speed to approximately 10km/h which would be a massive help for a lactating mother on an empty stomach. The whales stop for a rest at four different locations on their journey, including Augusta, Geographe Bay, Shark Bay and the southern Kimberley region. We are very lucky to have the whales spending a little extra time on either side of the Cape and if you are in the area during the migration, we definitely recommend taking a charter to get up, close and personal with these gentle giants!