Along the coast of Australia’s southwest edge is the longest coastal walk in all of Australia. The Cape to Cape track traverses 135km from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
Heading north on the track, you will get to experience all that Mother Nature has to offer. The gentle sea breeze will waft through your hair as you peer over the edge of granite cliff tops in search of whales breaching, dolphins playing among the waves, and seabirds flying just above the surface of the sparkling blue Indian Ocean.
This walk will take you through the magnificent Karri forests, along squeaky white sand beaches, over the colourful coastal heathlands, and into many quaint villages of the region. Along the way, you will get to walk along the famous Margaret River, check out the mossy rocks of Meekadarabee Falls, tour the Ellensbrook Homestead, view panoramic ocean views from the Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs, rest in the Cosy Corner, and much more. As you traverse, keep an eye out for Western Australia’s wildlife. You will be able to see kangaroos munching on grass and the brown bandicoot scuttling among the leaves. In addition, make sure to look up to spot the vivid colours of the parrots, purple-crowned lorikeets, and red-winged wrens.
Born as an idea in the early 1970s, the Cape to Cape Track was officially opened in 2001. Explorers of the region used the area originally for short walks. As more wineries and restaurants began to pop up in the area, they began incorporating meals into the short treks. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Jane Scott, now president of the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track, and Neil Taylor, Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP’s recreation planner, came together with the idea of a long-distance track. Together they created a walk along the sandy beaches, already built short tracks, and small paths used by fisherman, farmers, and surfers.
In the late 1990s, the national park began the construction of the Cape to Cape track, but sadly it ran out of money before completion. It was then that Friends of the Cape to Cape track was formed to try and receive the funding that the national park could not. Without the Friends, this track would have never been completed.
The Friends has grown to an impressive 400 members since its creation, and it is their annual subscription fee that keeps the track well-maintained. On top of that, members of the Friends and the community can “adopt” part of the track. Once a quarter or once a year, the “adoptee” will prune, gather rubbish, clean-up signs, and do other important maintenance along their section of the track. Over 30 members of the Friends have already adopted a section along with organisations like The Margaret River Surfrider Foundation.
This strong community keeps this track alive. In the past fifteen years, the park has increased its visitors from 900,000 annually to 2.3 million, making it one of the most popular parks in WA. As the year’s pass, the park and its fantastic community will grow and flourish together.
Margaret River has a rich background that has led this small town on an incredible journey. This area was originally known as Wooditchup to the Noongar people. Early signs of this Australian Aboriginal tribe can be found at Devil’s Lair Cave where many artefacts were discovered. It is believed that this tribe resided in Margaret River for about 48,000 years; even with European settlement, the Noongar people continue to stay connected to this region.
In the 1620s, the Dutch vessel “Leeuwin” first discovered the area, but it wasn’t until the 1830s that European settlers came to Cape Leeuwin. The next 100 years led Margaret River through a timber industry, with many Noongar people helping the settlers. Finally, in 1912, the town of Margaret River began construction with three tiny houses. The population of Margaret River began to grow rapidly with the expansion of the town and an extensive tree planting endeavour to replace what had been lost.
Another 100 years later, Margaret River has transformed into a popular tourist destination, world-renowned for its surfing hotspots and incredible wineries.
FLORA & FAUNA
The Cape to Cape Track is rich in its variety of flora and fauna. Along the western slopes of the track, dense and colourful heath cover the area. Brightly coloured buttercups, wattles, blue fan-flowers, and red cockies’ tongues coat the ground like sprinkles on a cake. Peppermint and Rottnest tea-trees grow tall in untamed areas and can be seen pruned along the track as well.
On the eastern edge of the ridge, the flora becomes more wooded with its famous Karri trees. Mixed in you will see jarrah-marri and sheoak as well. Among the sandy stretches, you can also spot holly-leaved banksia and candle banksia.
Throughout the forest and along the coast climbing plants such as the purple wisteria, the red coral vine, and the white clematis add bright touches of colour to the landscape. Walking the track during the springtime is the best season to see these plants in full bloom.
Hidden among, around, and above the lush flora of the Cape to Cape track are enough animals to keep any animal-lover busy trying to spot them. During the day, the main attraction are the birds. In the mornings and evenings, you will get the listen to their sweet songs and catch glimpses of their impressive colours as they fly by. You can witness birds such as parrots, purple-crowned lorikeets, red-winged wrens, New Holland honeyeaters, golden whistlers and more. If you look out past the cliffs, you can find seabirds like cormorants, oystercatchers, and reef herons prowling the surf and sand for a snack.
If it is a sunny day, you may find lizards and snakes sunning themselves along the track. Usually, they will slither away on your approach but do be careful of dugites and tiger snakes. You may be able to see the elusive carpet python or the bearded dragon soaking up the sunshine as well.
This track is home to a variety of small rodents like the brown bandicoot, the quenda, the phascogale, and the chuditch. It will be rare to see one, given their nocturnal tendencies, but you may get lucky. It is much more likely that you will see the western grey kangaroos grazing on grass as you pass by.
Lastly, make sure to look out over the water. Dolphins are known to play in these waters year round. If you do your trek during winter, you may get the chance to see the migration of the whales through the area.
Local Cuisine & Wineries
The Cape to Cape track has some of the best and most interesting food in the region. Prided on local produce, restaurants provide healthy and delectable meals that will suit every kind of diner. Here are a few of our favourite restaurants that we like to sample along our walking holiday.
The Margaret River region is also one of the most populated wine regions in Australia. There are more than 135 wineries each creating their own unique wines, and it is impossible not to experience at least one on your walking holiday. There are many amazing choices to choose from on the Cape to Cape track.
Our walking holiday along the Cape to Cape runs from south to north to avoid unpleasant weather conditions. We will begin in Augusta, roughly 350km south of Perth. Augusta is easy to get to via public or private transport.
Our walking holiday finishes in Bunker Bay / Dunsborough. If you choose to arrive via car, we suggest that you leave your car at the last accommodation on the track and take the bus down to Augusta. This way you avoid having to retrieve your car after your walking holiday, as it will already be there waiting for you.
If you choose our group guided tours, we will start in Perth. You will be picked us in our minibus and transported to the beginning of the walk and returned to Perth at the end.
During your walking holiday, we will transport your luggage between each accommodation. All you will have to carry is a lightweight daypack.
The climate in Margaret River is generally warm and moderate. Most of the rainfall occurs during the winter, with some rainfall in spring and autumn, and hardly any rain during the summer. In February, the average rainfall is around 11mm, making it the driest month of the year. In comparison, June is the wettest month of the year with an average rainfall of 214mm.
The temperature in Margaret River is quite lovely, with only an 8.0°C range difference throughout the year. February boasts the hottest month at around 20.8°C with July taking the chilliest month at an average of 12.8°C. This moderate and easy-going climate makes it the perfect location for your walking holiday.
The Cape to Cape Track runs along Australia’s most south-westerly coastline between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. Between these two capes, the landscape boasts high limestones clifftops, tall Karri forests, long sandy beaches, and gorgeous granite headlands.
The Cape to Cape is formed of two main rock types. The top of the ridge was formed over the past 2 million years out of consolidated wind-blown sand that is highly susceptible to erosion, creating a crumbling look to the top of the cliffs. Underneath is a much harder and erosion-resistant layer formed of granite, gneiss, and other metamorphic rocks that date back between 600 and 1500 million years ago.
The Margaret River and other smaller streams flow to the coast from the east, pouring out into the ocean. They flow heavily in winter and spring but dry up come summer which creates sandbars that make coastal walking much easier.
Along the coast, there is also an abundance of cave systems within easy reach of the track. These intricate and well-formed caves have been attracting tourists for generations, many of which are open the public.
WHEN TO GO
The best times of the year to walk are during spring and autumn. You will experience wonderful weather, comfortable temperatures, and beautiful transformations of nature that come with the changing of the seasons. Summer is also a lovely time to visit, although it can be a bit warm, so remember to take plenty of water with you in your day pack. Winter is doable as well if you plan appropriately. Make sure to check the forecasts because streams and rivers could be flooded or beaches washed out. Don’t worry too much, if that is the case then Stroll will provide you with an alternative route to keep you out of danger! Overall, this is a walk for all seasons as long as you plan ahead!
The fitness levels required to walk the Coast to Coast varies from easy to difficult. Large parts of the track are easy to moderate in difficulty. At times, the track will get more challenging with hard surfaces and soft beach sand. Some days on the track are longer than others, but on average full-day walks are about 19k in length at about 5-7.5 hours of the walking total. This is the perfect opportunity for fit walkers to challenge themselves, but we highly recommend that you incorporate a rest day into your walking holiday.
As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your self-guided walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a light-weight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:
Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include but are not limited to: