We were stoked to be featured in a recent article of Great Walks Magazine, which put the spotlight on Cape To Cape Explorer Tours and our epic guided hikes on the Cape to Cape Track! Click HERE to see Great Walks Magazine. If you are a subscriber, you can find our story in the February/March 2021 issue with the headline: “Whales, wine and wildflowers”.

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Or, read on for the second and final part of the full Great Walks Magazine article, which is reproduced for you below. If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.

Day 4: Monitors and memorials

The fragility of this coastal wilderness is on display at the start of day 4, where there’s a moving memorial to nine people killed when a cliff collapsed onto the beach in Gracetown in 1996. But it’s impossible to be sombre for long as we wander through more wildflowers running riot and learn about today’s theme – local fauna.

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We spot a metre-long coastal heath monitor sunning on the Track, who isn’t fazed by our arrival. “They’re crafty critters,” says today’s guide, Kristie, who runs marathons in her spare time. “They break open a termite mound to lay their eggs and the termites inadvertently incubate the eggs, then become lunch when the young lizards hatch.” Kristie also regales us with yarns about horny phascogales (the males mate to death), venomous snakes (dugites and tiger snakes are occasionally seen), and megafauna that once roamed these parts (including an echidna the size of a sheep).

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Morning tea is at historic Ellensbrook House and then the Track loops inland through stands of beautiful jarrah, marri and karri forest, alive with the shrieks of Carnaby’s cockatoos. More sand awaits on Kilcarnup Beach, but happily it is packed hard, making for wonderful shoes-off walking along the edge of the lagoon where bird life abounds. The day ends with a crossing of Margaret River, which is knee-deep where it flows into the ocean, and a look at Surfers Point, the town’s iconic surf break where the world’s best compete each year.

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We’ve covered 20km today and our dinner – a six-course Japanese degustation dinner at renowned Miki’s Open Kitchen – feels like a celebration. The option to pair each course with sake seems good at the time. Hopefully no regrets tomorrow, with the longest walk of the week at 21.5km!

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Day 5: Wadandi Boodja

Heather is our guide again today, which rates as one of my favourites. Every couple of kilometres brings new terrain and vistas, from the descent to the natural pool in Wadandi women’s country at Boodjidup Brook, to the granite-lined white sand of Redgate Beach, and the caves and grottos of Bob’s Hollow. Heather greets us with a kaya (hello) and an acknowledgement of Wadandi boodja (saltwater people’s country), sharing fascinating stories about today’s theme of indigenous culture and the lives, seasons, bush medicine and tucker of the Wadandi.

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We learn how they used the solidified resin balls of grasstree sap mixed with dried kangaroo dung to make “roo poo glue” and we sample bush tucker like native cherry (tart but tasty), spit bush (nutty with a husk to spit out), pig face (like a salty fig) and snottygobble (slimy but tasty). Highlights in the afternoon are walking Contos Cliffs, with soaring views to the beach below, and a taste of Boranup Forest, where towering karri trees soar.

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Day 6: “Soul sucking sand”

Splendid fairy-wrens and golden whistlers serenade us during the serene 6km stroll through Boranup Forest to begin our penultimate day on the Track. But then our guide Sasha, a born a bred “Margs” local who’s also mad about orchids, tells us about 7km of “soul sucking sand” that awaits on Boranup Beach. However, a sea breeze and low tide mean fairly pleasant walking to the end of the beach at Hamelin Bay. The old pylons are all that remain of a once-thriving port used to export timber that paved the streets of London and Paris in the late 1800s. Nowadays, Hamelin Bay is an Instagram sensation thanks to stingrays as big as truck tyres that cruise the shallows hunting crustaceans.

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Today’s theme is European history and Sasha tells us the French, sent by Napoleon, charted this coast in 1801, no doubt walking the same coastal tracks we have this week as they documented the plants and animals of “Terra Australis”. They even brought emus and wallabies back to Europe (housed in the offcers’ cabins to keep them alive on the voyage!). Like the French before us, we’re parched after a day on the Track. Only we have the luxury of a tasty feed and a cold beer at the Margaret River Brew House at day’s end.

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Day 7: Bubbles at Cape Leeuwin

Weary legs and the odd blister won’t stop us on the final day, especially with guru guide Heather leading the way. The hike begins with a spume-spraying limestone shelf called the Blowholes, highlighting how raw and remote this coast is. “Nothing between here and Antarctica,” Heather says cheerfully.

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 Deepdene Beach marks the final 6km of sand walking and the soft terrain is a slog. But it’s hard not to be captivated by miles of deserted beach fringed by clear lagoon. Our goal – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – slowly grows larger as we navigate huge broken limestone slabs gradually succumbing to the sea, then a lovely stretch of woodland and, finally, several kilometres of now-familiar granite and gneiss to Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern oceans meet.

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Together we approach the towering lighthouse, built in 1895 and the tallest on mainland Australia. It’s bittersweet. Seven days and 124km has led to this moment. There’s relief. Joy. Satisfaction. And sadness that the journey is over (though sadness doesn’t last long as Gene appears with celebration champagne!).

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The adventure is capped off with a final restaurant dinner where Gene comes armed with a big screen and slideshow of photos taken by the guides. The hardships fade away and only the highlights remain. Tomorrow it’s home but tonight I’m still under Margaret River’s spell. “All my memories are about being in the bush or the beach with my brothers, chasing waves or fish or each other,” Gene says during dinner. “You could go for miles with no-one around. And it’s still like that. There’s no place I’d rather be.” And I’d have to agree with him.

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The route:

Day 1: Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse – Yallingup. 13km.

Day 2: Yallingup – Moses Rocks. 17km.

Day 3: Moses Rocks – Gracetown. 13km.

Day 4: Gracetown – Prevelly. 20km.

Day 5: Prevelly – Boranup Forest. 21.5km.

Day 6: Boranup Forest to Cosy Corner. 20.5km.

Day 7: Cosy Corner to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. 19km.

Need to know:

Cape To Cape Explorer Tours runs its signature 8-day Guided End-to-End adventure on the Cape to Cape Track during spring and autumn, including all transport and transfers, coastal accommodation, catering and guides. Or walk some or all of the Track on a self-guided package, available year-round and ranging from 3 to 7 days. See www.capetocapetours.com.au for info and bookings.

Go big on the Bibbulmun:

Cape To Cape Explorer Tours has just launched a new tour hiking some of the best sections of the Bibbulmun Track on Western Australia’s rugged and pristine south coast over 6 days with expert guiding, waterfront accommodation and local catering. See www.capetocapetours.com.au/bibbulmun-track/ for 2021 dates, details and booking info.

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*** That’s the end to Part 2 of our feature story in Great Walks Magazine. Click HERE to see Great Walks Magazine. If you are a subscriber, you can find our story in the February/March 2021 issue with the headline: “Whales, wine and wildflowers”.***

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