A Whale of Time for our Humpbacks!

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.

Adult Humpback breaching

Amazing breaching humpback in Geographe Bay. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

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.

Baby and mother Humpback whales

Mother and baby Humpback in Geographe Bay. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

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.

Tail slapping Humpback

A big tail slap by an adult Humpback. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

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.

Surfacing Humpback in Geographe Bay

Surfacing Humpback. Photo credit: the_mermaid_viking

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!

Migration of Humpbacks

Distribution of the 2 migrating populations of the Humpback Whale’s in Australia.

 

Enjoy the extras on one of our guided end-to-end experiences!

Our guided end-to-end hikes run back to back throughout Spring and so far this year our groups have been having an absolute blast! Not only are they loving the Track and learning about all the different environmental and social elements that make the Margaret River Region so special, they are indulging in wine tastings, massages, cave explorations and delicious meals after their days walk.

Enjoying the contrast of Boodjidup Creek & Beach!

Enjoying the contrast of Boodjidup Creek & Beach!

After your first day on the Track, we head back to Gnarabup for a fantastic BBQ of local line caught fish and fresh salad. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to relax and get to know each other whilst chatting about the adventure that the week ahead holds!

Before setting off from Cape Naturaliste

Right before setting off on their 135km journey!

Day two on the Track is a little bit longer and more challenging than the first, but it’s all worth it to head to Cape Grace Wines and enjoy a wine tasting and a cheese platter with Karen. Heading home to unwind with a delicious Margaret River meal in your room will leave you feeling rested for your next day on the Cape to Cape. This night is one of the best to indulge in a massage.

Group of hikers tasting wine at Cape Grace winery

Hikers enjoying tasting at Cape Grace Wines

Your third day with Cape to Cape Explorer Tours is a shorter and easier walk finished with a sundowner at Margaret River’s founding estate, Vasse Felix. After trying wine produced from some of the regions oldest vines, head home to freshen up before hitting The Common for pizza night! Yum!

Enjoying a wine and platter at Vasse Felix

Vasse Felix sundowners are a lovely way to finish the day!

After crossing the half way point and the Margaret River, on day four you walk into your accommodation. Tonights meal is a degustation of Japanese tempura at Miki’s Open Kitchen, one of the regions most renowned restaurants. A two hour dining experience that will leave you feeling spoilt!

Mike's Open Kitchen

A sneak peak of some of the delicious Japanese food at Mikis Open Kitchen

After a variable, challenging and long day on the Track, you’ll head straight back to your accommodation to relax and enjoy a dinner in your accommodation from one of Margaret River’s best providers, The Larder. Another opportunity for a massage presents itself this evening.

Group of hikers at Contos Cliffs

Contos Cliffs is one of the most scenic sections of the Track.

After your second last day on the Cape to Cape, you will get the opportunity to visit one of Margaret River’s iconic caves. Venture underground with helmet and torch to explore the beauty of Calgardup Cave before emerging to a delicious hearty soup under the stars featuring freshly baked rolls from Margaret River Woodfired Bread.

Entering Calgardup Cave

About to enter the depth of Calgardup Cave

To celebrate your achievement of hiking the Cape to Cape Track, we spend the final evening sharing a meal at The Common. Certificates, slide shows and champagne make for an enjoyable evening of reminiscing with your new friends!

Celebration Dinner

Recapping on a life changing week at The Common!

With all of our Guided Join a Group experiences full to the brim this Spring and bookings for both Autumn and Spring next year already flowing in, we recommend booking now to avoid disappointment! With three different accommodation options including camping, staying in well appointed beach houses or staying at the 4-Star Margarets Beach Resort you can shape your Cape to Cape experience to suit your needs. Check out our dates on our home page now!

Wonderful Wildflowers

Heading into October, the wildflowers are well and truely on display down in Margaret River! With over 1200mm of rain so far this year, all our native flora is absolutely bursting with beautiful colours.

Anigozanthos manglesii

Anigozanthos manglesii – the red and green kangaroo is endemic to Western Australia and has featured as the states emblem since 1960.

Although our native orchids are exquisite, there are also many other flowering species that you can spot on the Cape to Cape Track that can be just as breath taking. One of our favourites is the Mangles Kangaroo Paw. The striking red and green of the flower stalk can grow over a metre in height and is a simply stunning contrast among the darker green foliage.

Kennedia coccinea

Kennedia coccinea – Coral vine is a welcomed splash of orange along the Track.

The Coral Vine adds a splash of warmth to the Cape to Cape Track as it meanders through the surrounding vegetation. Pink, orange and yellow are so dramatically eye catching it’s hard not to stop and take a closer look!

Petrophile axillaria

Petrophile axillaria – A prickly but beautiful pink flowering shrub

Although the flowers on this shrub are pretty and pink, the foliage is prickly and straggly! These beautiful flowers can be seen through the forest section of the Track and at nearly Cosy Corner.

Donkey Orchid

Dirus sp. – The Dunsborough Donkey Orchid is the most common orchid found on the Cape to Cape.

These rather tall and common Donkey Orchids are a funky and fun looking flower that can be found in various sections of the Track over early spring. Growing very tall, they are absolutely magnificent when poking out from the vegetation. If you want to take a step away from the coast and into other vegetation types, why not check out our Wild About Margaret River Tour? Not only will you get the chance to spot lots of native orchids with an experienced guide, you’ll also get the chance to learn some of the fascinating local history.

Walking Back in Time with Kalgoorlie Primary School

The year six’s from Kalgoorlie Primary School recently visited the Margaret River Region for they school camp. Staying at Wharncliffe Mill just by the Margaret River, the kids spent a whole week exploring through the area.

Kalgoorlie Primary School kids on the Cape to Cape Track

Hiking the newly opened section of the Track between Ellenbrook and Joeys Nose

As part of their camp they joined Cape to Cape Explorer Tours for a full day hike between Ellensbrook and the mouth of the Margaret River on our ‘Walk Back in Time’ schools package. Boasting rich geological, ecological and human history, this stretch of the Track was the perfect place to truely immerse these kids in nature.

Ellenbrook Pinnacles

The newly opened section of the Cape to Cape Track features limestone pinnacles

A new section of the Cape to Cape Track has recently opened between Ellensbrook and Kilcarnup Beach and the kids from Kalgoorlie Primary were some of the first to walk it! Similar to ‘The Pinnacles’ in Numbung National Park, the pinnacles are made of Tamala Limestone, unique to Western Australia.

Kalgoorlie Primary School kids walking on Kilcarnup Beach

Kilcarnup Beach in all of its glory.

These 11 year olds were also lucky enough to visit some of the regions amazing caves with plans to spend some time learning about the Wardandi Nyoongar people with Josh from Koomal Dreaming. A mountain biking experience was also on their agenda. If you’re planning a camp in the Capes region with a group of young people, why not check out some of the tours available on our website? We love taking kids out on camp and encouraging them to both reconnect with nature and work as a team in a fun and safe manner!

 

 

 

Product Review: Keens Newport H2

Keens Newport H2

You can currently pick these walking sandals up for $99.95 from the Mountain Designs Outlet online store. Walking over 100kms in boots can sometimes take its toll on our most precious hiking asset. It can be a relief to give your feet a breather for a day or 2 during your Cape to Cape hike. These sandals are comfortable, breathable, secure and waterproof whilst still protecting your toes. In warmer weather, these sandals are perfect for long beach sections, eliminating the concern of getting your feet wet!

Splendid July School Holidays

This July school holidays have been the busiest yet at Cape to Cape Explorer Tours! Even though we have had some wet and windy weather in the Margaret River Region, we’ve been out and about on the Track and underground.

Low family exploring Calgardup Cave

The Loh family explorer the underground wonders of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge in Calgardup Cave.

The Loh family joined us last week for a Sunset, Forest and Cave Explorer Tour through the southern end of the Cape’s region. Although the rain was heavy outside, once we made our way down the steps and underground into Calgardup Cave our soggy thoughts were long forgotten. Escaping the Singaporean heat to visit Margaret River in the winter months has been a very popular choice for families from South East Asia. The Loh family used the holiday as a reunion as their youngest daughter Jaz is currently studying in England and their daughter Jana has recently been in Sydney completing her tertiary education.

Rainbow the Mehta family at Wydup Rocks

The Mehta family enjoying a rainbow mid-hike above Wyadup Rocks.

The Mehta family also joined us for a full day of hiking from Smiths Beach to Moses Rock. Although a few showers graced us throughout the day, we were lucky enough to experience lots of fantastic rainbows after each downpour. Living in New South Wales, the family are often very busy after school and on weekends with sporting commitments. The families favourites include soccer and cricket, whilst sun Anish also likes to surf when conditions are right.

The kids enjoying a hike in Nannup

Youth from Nannup, Margaret River, Manjimup, Pemberton and Northcliffe hiking the Timberline Trail in Barrabup.

To finish off the holidays, we spent two days out in the bush with youth from Margaret River, Northcliffe, Pemberton, Manjimup and Nannup for a Bush Survival Camp funded by the Local Drug Action Group. Camping at Workers Pool in Nannup was a great experience! We pushed on through some pretty extreme weather with the temperature dropping to -2.5 degrees on Wednesday night and over 75mm of rain overnight on Thursday and through pack up on Friday morning. The kids aged from 12-17 years old showed amazing amounts of leadership as they shared the responsibilities in the kitchen and around the camp fire. They were also incredibly respectful to all the supervisors, camp visitors and each other.

Overall, we’ve had a fantastic school holidays here at Cape to Cape Explorer Tours full of fun and adventure. If you are visiting Margaret River next holidays with the family why not try one of our day tours? We can also organise a customised trip for you and your family to help you reconnect with nature and learn a little bit more about the true nature of this amazing region.

 

Not all snakes are dangerous!

The Elapognathus coronets (Western crowned snake) is commonly spotted by our walkers on the Cape to Cape Track. Growing up to 70cm’s in length, this small snake will usually freeze when approached but will timidly squirm away with any sudden movement. Active throughout most of the year they can often be found sun baking on flattened sedge or sand patches. Their diet typically consists of small frogs and lizards and thankfully, they are not known to be aggressive or venomous to people.

Elapognathus coronatus

The Western Crowned Snake captured alongside the Cape to Cape Track.

Getting friendly with the Cape to Cape Track

Over the last couple of weeks we have been walking with the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track (FOCCT) group. Biannually, Cape to Cape Explorer Tours offers the end-to-end walk to members of the Friends Group where they can join one or both of the 4 day legs with our guides out on the Track. The first four days on the Track saw members of the Friends Group traverse the Track from Cape Naturaliste to Ellensbrook followed by the final four days seeing the Group complete the walk to Cape Leeuwin after three rest days in the middle.

Friends of the Cape to Cape Track Yallingup

Day 1 – Friends of the Cape to Cape Track in front of the coastal hamlet of Yallingup

With monster swells smashing the coast line, we were all dusted with fine coating of salt by the end of each day. During the first week the weather was extremely kind to us, mostly drenching us in sunshine apart from a little rain on the second day which definitely added to the atmosphere of the walk. “Many of the members noted day two to be the most enjoyable of the first week” said Mike Evans, who walked on each day of the FOCCT program. On the fourth and final day of week one, members were invited by Karen Karri-Davies back to her winery Cape Grace for an afternoon of cheese and wine tasting, This was a fantastic way to reflect on and celebrate the walk thus far!

Cape to Cape Track Wilyabrup

Day 3 – Downhill from Moses Rock Campsite

The weather for week two was wild, wet and windy! Quite a contrast to what was experienced on the Track just days earlier. Day one coincided with one of the biggest storms of the season. With weather predicted to worsen during the day, the walk was cut down to 7kms seeing the group heading south from Ellensbrook to Kilcarnup Road. “The walkers in the front were kept busy pulling fallen branches from the middle of the path and the rest of us followed heads down” said Lyn Hellier recounting the shorter mornings walk. The wind was still strong on the second day of week two but the afternoon the group found shelter and enjoyed a bit of orchid and fungi spotting in Boranup Forest. The final two days were both longer stretches complemented by isolation, wild Indian Ocean and CCET’s Managing Director Gene Hardy.

Boranup Forest Burl

Day 5 – Big burl on a Karri in Boranup Forest

It was a fantastic opportunity for Cape to Cape Explorer Tours and the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track to note both the strengths of the Track and potential improvements that could be made, particularly to the signage. Jenny Kickers, an ex-guide of CCET took the role of ‘Tail-end Charlier’ to a a whole new level by playing ‘Doctor to the Signs’ by patching up and re-digging damaged signs along the way. Highlights of the walk for both Lyn Hellier and Mike Evans were not just the scenery, wild weather and big seas but also the whole physical challenge leading to an overall sense of achievement. To those wondering if they should do it; don’t wonder any longer, just of it while you can.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Finished! The group upon completing the hike at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Shine a Light Cape to Cape Fundraiser Walk

From 5th – 12th October 2016 Cape to Cape Explorer Tours will be supporting the Shine a Light project in their endeavour to raise funds for refugees both at home and abroad. Last year the Shine a Light project raised $14,000 which went towards the purchase of solar lanterns for young refugee students and audio equipment for a youth development project. This year we will continue our fundraising support for vulnerable refugees at home and abroad through this Cape to Cape fundraising walk.
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours
In a show of solidarity with those who have walked many more miles in search of safety we will walk from lighthouse to lighthouse, Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, to shine a light on the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. By committing to raising at least $500 towards the Shine a Light project, we are inviting you to join us for 135km hike from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin for just $1295 per person. Proceeds will go towards supporting Shine a Light for Kakuma & the Fair Go For Asylum Seekers campaign.  Shine for Kakuma will be using the proceeds to purchase additional solar lanterns to support more refugees with their studies. Our support for the Fair Go For Asylum Seekers campaign will enable the Humanitarian Group provide much needed specialised legal advice, assistance and representation to highly vulnerable asylum seekers. Without this assistance, these asylum seekers will be left without the means or the knowledge to put together their claim for asylum and navigate the complex legal process.
Shine a Light
In registering as a Shine a Light walker we ask that you commit to raising at least $500 in sponsorship (hopefully more!) from friends, family or colleagues. For more information on your itinerary and what’s included in the price please click here. To learn more about sponsorship and fundraising please contact Sarah on 0417 936 418 or email capetocape@outlook.com.au .
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