Thursday, February 27, 2020

Rocky Point to Smiths Beach, Cape to Cape Walk, Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park - December 2019

Sunrise over Geographe Bay.... strap yourself in for a lot of impossibly beautiful coastal scenery.
I didn’t bother with the fly on the tent last night, making do with just the mesh inner which was manly just to keep the bugs off me. Not carrying a sleeping bag either, temperatures in the tent were a little on the marginal side last night, especially when the sea breezes kicked in. Still I was warm enough wrapped up in my blanket but it wouldn’t of wanted it to get much colder, I think I’ll use the fly from now on. With another very hot day forecast I was up and away at first light this morning, just as the early morning light painted the scenery in pastel shades.
Last nights stealth camp was a nice one.
Back on the Meelup Trail.
As I mentioned yesterday the Meelup Trail gets progressively rougher as it makes its way out to Cape Naturaliste and first thing this morning I was straight into it as I rounded Rocky Point and headed down towards Bunker Bay. The track crossed over a series of huge rocky outcrops, the red coloured rock looking very nice in the early morning light. Following a series of cairns and the occasional marker post it wasn’t long before I rounded the last point and started dropping down to the deserted Bunker Bay.
I'm thinking that is actually Rocky Point?
There are some old track markers behind Rocky Point.
The Meelup Trail skirts slightly inland around Rocky Point.
It was sensational walking approaching Bunker Bay this morning.
I got my first glimpse of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse from Rocky Point.
Geographe Bay 
The walking around Rocky Point can be a little vague in spots, however you really can't go too far wrong.
Now I suppose the pay off for this mornings alpine start was that it meant that I got this magnificent stretch of white sand and turquoise water all to myself. Well, to tell the truth I wasn’t entirely on my own, as I was shuffling my way along the more than two kilometres of beach I noticed some fins out in the water in the distance. Now being in the Margaret River region of Western Australia that could mean a few things, Great White Sharks were one option, Dolphins were another. This morning I got lucky though, a pod of Dolphins slowly made their way along the beach until they were just off the section of beach that I was on. Quickly stripping off I was able to grab the waterproof camera and jump in, the inquisitive pod of Dolphins coming over for a swim with their feral interloper. Unfortunately taking photos under water without a mask is next to impossible so my underwater shots aren't even worth publishing however the memory of being surrounded by the beautiful mammals will stay with me for awhile, that certainly doesn’t happen on every walk I do.
I've just dropped onto the beautiful... and deserted Bunker Bay.
Bunker Bay
OK, maybe Bunker Bay wasn't deserted after all.
So I jumped in to meet my new mates.
Yes it's a Dolphin... not a Great White... I hope!
I could really get use to this kind of bushwalking!
Returning to the sand I decided to throw on some clothes and walk the remaining beach in bare feet, something that I soon came to regret. Shuffling along the fine white sand whilst I gazed out into the bay in the hope that my new mates might come back for another swim, my my euphoric mood was suddenly broken as I managed to drop kick my walking pole with my right foot (remember I had no boots on). Gee that hurt I remember saying….well something similar although maybe slightly more colourful! Hobbling now, I eventually made it to the rocks at the far end of Bunker Bay, washing the sand off my feet I could already see the that two smallest toes on my right foot were going a pretty purple colour, I hadn’t even managed to make it to the official start point of the Cape to Cape and I was already broken!
The western end of Bunker Bay is pretty nice too.
Bunker Bay
There are some nice short walks around the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse Precinct.
Wincing a little I pulled my boots back on, the combination of salt, sand, sweat, heat and a couple of sore toes had me questioning my sanity a little - I still hadn’t managed to make it to the official start point of the Cape to Cape. Climbing up from the beach I followed the quiet (it was still only around 7am) Bunker Bay Road to it’s end point, passing into the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park for the first time on the way. There is a selection of walking tracks criss crossing Cape Naturaliste however thankfully they are are generally well signposted and mapped so I was able to fairly easily make my way across to the lighthouse, firstly climbing high above Shelley Cove before climbing the rough limestone track higher still passing a series of lookouts. It was still well before the public opening hours when I shuffled up to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse this morning so there are no close up shots of me touching the lighthouse, that also meant that I wouldn’t be able to top up my water bottles either, although with 3 litres still left I was pretty comfortable there.
Looking back down to Shelley Cove.
Approaching the lighthouse I got my first real taste of limestone walking.
The old Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse Keeper Cottage.... it was still to early to go into the lighthouse grounds unfortunately.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, this was about as close as I got this morning.
Alright, I was now on the Cape to Cape track. Leaving the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse the C2C follows a wheelchair friendly shared path all the way to Sugarloaf Rock, this section of the track also offers almost constant stunning views which would make it a good section for people wanting a taste of what the coastline has to offer I guess, for me this morning it meant some relatively quick progress for awhile. Reaching Sugarloaf Road I left the C2C for a little while to drop down to the Sugarloaf Rock Carpark and Lookout. Apparently Sugarloaf Rock is home to rare Red-Tailed Topic Birds although on both my visits I’m yet to see one, not to worry though as the scenery alone is pretty special. Sugarloaf Rock is just off a rocky point and looking down at the different sized rock pools glinting in the morning sun I was sorely tempted to call a halt for a while, jump in and sample them.
Filling out the track register... I was finally on the Cape to Cape Track.
The first section of the C2C follows a wheelchair friendly path.
I was gently dropping down to check out Sugarloaf Rock.
Grass Trees and turquoise water.... sweet.
Sugarloaf Rock
Leaving Sugarloaf rock I climbed up the crest of a broad spur to again re-join the C2C. Back on the C2C things were now more typical when it came to track standards, I was now walking on a single track that was crossing sandy country interspersed with rough limestone sections. Continuing shuffling my way south I was heading for Kabbijgup Beach next, a lot of the beaches along this section of the Western Australia coastline have two, or maybe three names, there’s the European name, sometimes there’s the indigenous name and then there is sometimes also the surfing name (which is actually the name of the surfing break and not the beach), the surfer’s call Kabbijgup Beach Three Bears. Arriving at the northern end of Kabbijgup Beach the C2C drops down some stairs onto the beautiful beach. Once down on the sand I trudged my way along the length of the beach, now there is no denying that the beaches over in Western Australia are among the most, if not the most stunning beaches in the world, but gee they can make for some tough walking as the sand is rarely hard packed and firm - at least in my experience.
After visiting Sugarloaf Rock I climbed back up onto the C2C track.
C2C heading towards Yallingup in the middle distance.
The C2C approaching Kabbijgup offers up almost constant views.
Dropping down to Kabbijgup (Three Bears).
After trudging my way along the length of the beach I climbed the soft sandy track back up onto the limestone cliff tops and continued my journey south, the houses of Yallingup now not looking that far away. I was starting to feel the heat a bit now, while it wasn’t too bad whilst the C2C stayed near the edge of the cliff line, however when I started to follow an old 4wd track that dropped into some dunes behind the cliffs things started to get pretty hot. I knew from my previous visit that once on the old 4wd track it meant that I was getting relatively close to the Mt Duckworth Campsite. Sure enough it wasn’t too long before the picnic tables at the Mt Duckworth Camp came into view and I gratefully dropped my pack in the shade of the Tea Trees. It was still morning so I wasn’t thinking of staying here however the shaded picnic tables were very welcome, I was also interested in whether the water tanks had any water in them as in summer water can be a real issue on the C2C track, thankfully the tanks had enough water for me to fill up a couple of water bottles, these thick polly tanks are a little hard to judge when it comes to how full they are though - although maybe that’s just me?
Climbing the soft sand away from Kabbijgup.
Heading towards Mt Duckworth Camp.
C2C scenery.
C2C Track.
Yallingup is looking a lot closer now.
I'm sorry about all the photos, however I was really enjoying the scenery.
Slightly rejuvenated after relaxing in the shade for awhile I once again shouldered my pack and set off towards my next destination, the Shaana café in Yallingup - hey, I never said I was hardcore! It was while I was slowly shuffling along this section that I had one of those serendipitous moments that happen on long walks. As I was moving along at the speed of a sloth on valium I was overtaken by three ladies, I didn’t know it then but I’d see quite a lot of these three ladies over the next week. Sally, Harmony and Juliet represented three generations of the same family and were out walking the C2C in day sections. What I did know at the time though was how much easier these ladies were doing it than I was, they seemed to be flying over the top of the same soft sand that I was sinking up to my ankles in, hmm.
Approaching Mt Duckworth Camp the C2C follows an old sandy 4wd track.
I was happy with any shade I could get now.
Yallingup Beach (Rabbits).
I chilled out at Shaana Café in Yallingup for a couple of hours...
....before making my way down to have a cold shower.
Reaching the lookout over Rabbits surf break I resisted the urge to drop down and slog my way along Yallingup Beach (it wasn’t hard) and instead followed the quiet road into town that ran just behind the dunes. Arriving at the Shaana café I wandered in, grabbed a table and settled in for a looong break, a couple of minutes after I arrived Sally, Harmony and Juliet arrived having decided to walk the official beach section and came over to join me. For some reason I was pretty well cooked by now, while it was hot it wasn’t that hot... so I can only guess that all the constant travel and work over the last couple of weeks had finally caught up with me, whatever the case I really enjoyed relaxing here talking to my new friends while enjoying some great food (I recommend the Calamari). Eventually the girls headed off to continue their journey in the afternoon heat however I wasn’t for leaving really, the track could wait a while longer. With the café closing at 3pm I shuffled my way 100 metres towards the beach and settled in at the cliff top park in the shade for awhile, spending another relaxing hour filling water bottles, sorting gear and enjoying a nice cold beach shower.
I'm on my way again... looking back towards Yallingup Beach.
Smiths Beach
Smiths Beach 
I've just climbed up onto Smiths Beach Road.... the beach looks beautiful however the walking was pretty soft.
It was around 4pm when I finally set off from Yallingup, I was loaded up with 5 litres of water again as I planned on another stealth camp again tonight, however to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it, my next water was probably going to be Moses Rocks Campsite although I had enough to get me to Gracetown at a pinch. The C2C out of Yallingup follows a wide gravel path below Yallingup Beach Road and above Torpedo Rocks for a bit before dropping down onto Smiths Beach. Trudging along the beautiful white sand of Smiths Beach I passed by the Super Tubes surf break, although with a strong off shore wind blowing there wasn’t any surfers out this afternoon. Reaching the end of Smiths Beach I was chatting to a lady as we climbed up to meet Smiths Beach Road, she was staying at the Canal Rocks Beachfront Apartments and highly recommended it, telling her that I was planning on camping somewhere over near Injidup Beach we parted ways and I continued trudging my way south down the road - for around two minutes! The little voices in my head got the better of me again and I returned to the resort and headed in to see if they would give me a room for the night. To cut a long story short they did a special one night deal for me (it’s normally a two night minimum) as well as giving me an apartment with air-con….sweet! Once I was sorted I was able to head up to the flash Smiths Beach Resort next door and buy some take away fish and chips for dinner, life had gone from a dry and hot stealth camp in the dunes to eating fish and chips in air-conditioned comfort in the blink of an eye.
Now this was a little more comfortable than a stealth camp in the dunes!
Canal Rocks Beachfront Apartments.

The Dirt.
According to my GPS I walked 32.7 kilometres and climbed 990 metres today (I’d treat the GPS climbing figures with a little suspicion as a lot of the walk is along cliff tops and I think it throws the figure out a bit). Over the two days of my C2C walks so far I've walked 42 kilometres and climbed 1,100 metres. For me today was a fairly hard walk although I’m guessing most people wouldn’t find it as hard as I did, the heat seemed to do me in a little today. Water can be bought at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse if it’s open, Mt Duckworth Camp, Yallingup and the south end of Smiths Beach. Accommodation is available in both Yallingup and Smiths Beach, the official C2C camp is at Mt Duckworth. I stayed at the Canal Rocks Beachfront Apartments and it was a very comfortable stop, they went out of their way to accommodate this hot and sweaty C2C walker.

Relevant Posts.
Day 1, Cape to Cape Walk, Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park, 2019.

My first injury.... who'd of thought that soft sand and sore toes aren't an ideal combination?
Smiths Beach sunset.

Mushroom Rocks, Baw Baw National Park - June 2016

I mentioned in my last post that I was heading out and doing a snow walk next and indeed that's how it turned out. The weather in Me...