Adventures in Cape Naturaliste
Travel bloggers Monique and Jasper from Salty Travellers head to Cape Naturaliste, WA for a breathaking hike along the Cape to Cape track.
Summer has been and gone and as we enter into the transition months, the cooler weather has finally landed upon us. We have recently enjoyed a summer in the South West Region of Australia and although it’s been nothing short of amazing, we are looking forward to throwing a few extra layers on, embracing the cooler temperatures, enduring shorter days and enjoying incredible sunsets.
We have been living in the Margaret River region for the past few months and have been spoilt with amazing beaches, crystal turquoise waters as well as lucky enough to have one of the West’s most famous walking trails right at our doorstep; the Cape to Cape Track.
This incredible hike runs for 123km along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. To tackle the entire trail is a great challenge usually taking between 5-7 days. The walk itself features spectacular coastal and forest scenery showcasing a fascinating geology of cliffs, caves, headlands, rock formations and an ever-changing display of vegetation and wildflowers. With multiple access points along the coast, the Cape to Cape track also allows hikers to complete smaller sections of the walk with five different start points. So for those short on time or juggling a busy lifestyle, it’s super easy to fit some hikes in before and after work or to enjoy on weekends.
There has been one section of the Cape-to-Cape track, which we’ve particularly been excited to explore, a short yet rewarding 7km return hike between Sugarloaf Rock and the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Now that we’re caught between the summer and Winter solstice, the days are slowly becoming shorter and the sunsets richer in colour. This makes it the perfect trail to explore during the soft, golden afternoon light. Setting off in the early afternoon, we took the scenic drive along caves road, taking us roughly 50 minutes to arrive at one end of the trails access points. Most of the walkers begin their starting point from the Lighthouse, however we specifically chose to begin and end our hike at Sugarloaf Rock as it the attraction offers incredible scenery to enjoy a classic Western Australian sunset.
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The Class 2 hike starts out as a paved path winding its way across the high, rugged cliff tops. It showcases an incredible contrast between the West’s raw landscapes. On one side, the wild Indian Ocean’s waves crash into the beautiful sandy bays below and the other side displays native wildflowers and coastal bush that’s teaming with Australian wildlife. The generous views that this track offers, makes it the perfect place to watch some migrating whales or bottlenose dolphins playing in the surf. As we continued along the trail we began to spot Fluttering Wrens as they dipped and dived between the vegetation on either side of the path. Their golden brown feathers catching the afternoon light while they flew over our heads, keeping a safe distance.
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It wasn’t long until we’d reached the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse. It’s long white frame reaches up to 20 Metres tall and features a beautifully bright red door at the base. It’s remarkably held its structure after being built in 1903 with local limestone that was carted by bullock wagon from a quarry just 1.5 km away. Being an automatic operation, the lighthouse’s white beam is visible for 48kms (26 nautical miles), flashing twice every 10 seconds of each minute of the day and night.
Standing at the lookout, we spent a few minutes taking in the incredible views of Geographe Bay. Even though it was a busy spot with visitors and tourists passing by, it still felt peaceful and calm as we stood and looked out over the ocean. We started our journey back along the path, pushing against the strong Southerly gusts that were blowing across the ocean and over the cliffs. The sun was beginning to make its way closer to the horizon and was lighting up the entire coastline with its rays of golden yellow tones. As the path began to lead us closer, we could see the mighty Sugarloaf Rock glowing just slightly in the distance. It’s jagged, island-like outline reminded us why it’s one of the most photographed coastal landforms in the South West region.
After watching the rock grow with each step, we finally arrived at the elevated lookout and were in complete awe of its shear size. The large granite outcrop towered out of the ocean and sat extremely close to the mainland. It’s incredible structure just separated by a narrow and wild channel of water. By this stage the sun was beginning to set and we excitedly made our way down a small track that led us to a closer viewing point. This Nature lover’s paradise is a haven for nesting sea birds with one visitor in particular, the elegant Red-Tailed Tropicbird. As we stood closer we could see their small shadows, sheltering in the crevices to escape from the rough winds and fierce sea spray.
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With each minute that passed by, Sugarloaf rock began to transition in colour. Using what was left of the light, we decided to find a spot to perch ourselves up on a rock that overlooked the bright, golden orb as it fell parallel to the rocky formation. We enjoyed the sun’s last moments as it dipped below the horizon, featuring an ever-changing display of colours in the sky. From the fiery shades of reds, oranges and yellows to the softer pastel tones of purples and blush pinks. It spread its colours widely, reflecting over the ocean. We couldn’t help but think Mother Nature was once again delivering one of her incredible light shows. It was an assuring feeling for us, almost as if she had promised that tomorrow would bring good things our way.
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We sat closely in silence whilst taking in such a short and precious portion of time. It’s moments like these that are a constant reminder as to why being amongst nature is so important to us. It encourages us to enjoy each day as it comes and to appreciate our surroundings, no matter where we might be in Australia.
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