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Tickets Icon Looking to browse and book Australia & NZ's best WALKS AND HIKES?

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ExperienceOz presents

AUSTRALIA'S MOST EPIC WALKS AND HIKES

5. CAPE TO CAPE TRACK, WA

TRACK HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 5 - 7 day scenic coastal walk
  • Beautiful stretches of rock-strewn blue ocean
  • Follows coast with some forest sections

WHEN TO GO:

  • September - November best period
  • Wonderful flowers in springtime

LEVEL OF CHALLENGE

Easy to hard; track differs in sections

SUMMARY OF THE TRACK

This scenic walking experience is Australia's longest coastal walking track, running alongside the vivid blue waters of the Indian Ocean from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south. An incredible foot-based showcase of Australia's south-west, unique rock formations, majestic cliffs, limestone caves and lush Karri forest make for a diverse journey that is defined by the beauty of its waters.

"The Cape to Cape track offers an incredible showcase of Australia's southwest, which stands as a criminally underrated holiday destination and a wholesome sampler of Oz's pristine coastline that remains unadulterated by commercialisation."

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The wonderfully untouched coastline of South-West Australia is a tapestry of colours that has long made it a favourite getaway destination of both residents of capital city Perth and those from interstate looking to unplug from civilisation. As a result, the roughly 135km-long Cape to Cape walking track - the longest such coastal track in Australia - provides visitors with a first-person, multi-day showcase of this diversity, with the characteristically-turquoise colour of the region's water playing a large part in the spectacle of the walk.

All of the staples of incredible coastal scenery are encountered at their untouched best on the Cape to Cape walk; cliffs, caves, headlands, and unique rock formations abound, all of which contrast brilliantly with the surrounding waters. It's an overall well-marked and signed track, with the majority of its route following the coast and with navigable terrain that largely consists of cliffs to beaches, although there are several diversions inland to explore some wonderful stretches of towering karri forest.

The “Cape to Cape” portion of the name refers to the two potential end departure points – Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the south – both of which are marked by their own signature lighthouse, and the trek can be embarked upon from either direction. Walking north-to-south comes recommended, however, as the sun stays at your back throughout the journey and thus helps to avoid excessive glare getting in your eyes during the walk, and it's this route we'll be outlining in detail here.

The Cape to Cape Track in Pictures:

Cape to Cape Track 1 Cape to Cape Track 2 Cape to Cape Track 3 Cape to Cape Track 4

Getting on the initial portion of the track is doable from either end by vehicle, and once underway there are a blend of vehicle tracks, constructed paths and natural sandy beach that make up its composition. While there are plenty of smaller and easier segments of the Cape to Cape track that can be done separately and make for enjoyable furloughs given the track's high degree of accessibility from the road, the full-length adventure involves roughly 20 – 25 kilometres worth of walking per day, including a reasonable degree of soft-sand walking which can prove tiring on the calf muscles.

However, the track's high level of accessibility also comes with additional benefits to counter this; unlike most of Australia's other famed Great Walk tracks, the Cape to Cape track's proximity to a variety of settlements along the way means there are plentiful accommodation options to choose from. Thus, while camping is allowed anywhere on the track – there are four designated campsites complete with toilets and picnic tables should you choose to “rough it” - more luxurious places to lay your head are regularly available that makes spending the night outdoors optional rather than required.

Cape to Cape Track Map:

As the track contains a large amount of variation in both height, trail quality and physical condition, if you're looking to embrace its challenge and take in some of Australia's rawest scenery, it's certainly a wise investment to plan out a guided adventure beforehand. This allows more of a focus on simply enjoying the cavalcade of landscapes without having to focus too much concern on safety – your guides know the track like the back of their hand, and thus allow you take in all the incredibly sunrises and sunsets, rugged rocky scenery, and wonderful lookout points over the mountainous terrain with far less stress. If you're looking for a getaway from the bustle of urban life and a way to truly embrace “untouched Australia”, then this is certainly the way to do so.

Track sections and best parts:
  • Section 1: Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse serves as the starting point for the recommended north-to-south route, 110+ year old structure. Journey along a section of track that provides a great introduction of what to expect; a well-defined track initially that devolves into something of a scramble in parts. See rock formations such as Sugarloaf Rock covered by red-tailed tropic birds, wooden walkways leaving to stretches of wonderful surf, alongside the water-worn Canal Rocks and down the Wyadup Steps that make navigation easier on the feet. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
  • Section 2: Push along sections of high limestone cliffs including a stop at the renowned “clifftop seat” area – perhaps one of the most photographed and scenic locations on the track with a beautiful outlook over the vibrant blue water. Dolphins and whales can often be spotted here, making it an ideal place to spot for a rest. You'll continue along and encounter the cascading Quininup Falls which run just 300m or so off the main track. Pressing onwards, the majestic spectacle of the granite Willyabrup Cliffs can be seen looming in the distance.
  • Section 3: This section heads inland at several junctures, and presents the opportunity for a visit to historic Ellensbrook Homestead, an 1850's-era building that is the earliest European settlement in the region. Visitors are welcome to inspect the house for a token fee. Afterwards the track returns to the beachfront's golden sandy sections, where you'll encounter the rocky Joey's Nose limestone cliff formation sticking out over the greenery. Get a view of the mouth of Margaret River itself, as it flows out into the ocean and makes for doable crossing in Summer although walkers may have to skirt around in Winter before crossing the Boodjidup Bridge.
  • Section 4: another highly scenic portion of the track, consisting of coastal heathland on the clifftops above Contos Beach. This part is renowned for its colourful flowers – particularly in Spring – and greenery is emphasised even further upon venturing into the shared Karri trees of Boranup forest. Negotiate the greenery of the forest before heading back down to Boranup beach for a substantial stretch of sand-walking. Sand here is typically hard enough to be comfortable underfoot. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
  • Section 5: the final portion of the journey rounds things off beautifully as one of the highlights of the track – the blowholes of Cosy Corner – come into view, and on windier days the effect of water being launched through their spiky formations can be an impressive sight. Quarry Bay, the site from which much of the limestone for Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was obtained, makes for a rocky and scenic section as overhanging portions of limestone give off a cafe-like effect. The walk culminates in an arrival at the Lighthouse itself which sits on a lovely promontory overlooking the ocean and its one of this part of Western Australia's most iconic spots.

The Cape to Cape Track in Motion:

Should you a first-time walker looking to get the most out of your trek, guided walks of the track are also available for groups via various companies that offer different itineraries of varying lengths, each with their own perks. Some of these come with included accommodation and pampering packages, while others provide samplings of gourmet food and drink as a focus – something for which the surrounding Margaret River region has a justified outstanding reputation. These tours can help provide further insight to the history, flora and fauna of this part of WA, and with supplies and navigation taken care of the focus of walkers can instead be put entirely on simply enjoying its many spectacles along the way.

In all, the Cape to Cape track offers an incredible foot-based showcase of Australia's southwest, which stands as a criminally underrated holiday destination and a wholesome sampler of Oz's pristine coastline that remains unadulterated by commercialisation.

Click for: Larapinta Trail, NT | Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, TAS | Fraser Island, QLD | Flinders Ranges, SA | Snowy Mountains, NSW | Cape to Cape Track, WA | Twelve Apostles, VIC | Freycinet Experience, TAS | Blue Mountains, NSW | Overland Track, TAS

To book one of these epic hiking journeys for yourself and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, be sure to visit our dedicated walking and hiking section for bookings.

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