Cape to Cape Day 04 – Ellensbrook to Conto's Campsite

Cape to Cape Index

A Wrong Turning

Cape to Cape Track I left Ellensbrook campsite a little later than I had hoped, just after 08:00. Realising that I had over 30 kilometres of hiking to do that day, I would need to hike at an average speed of approximately 4 km/h to reach the next campsite before the sun set - a speed that was definitely achievable especially considering that I was now hiking alone. The clouds didn't look too promising though and I caught myself hoping that the weather would hold up. Everything else was perfect - the shade of the trees that filtered the morning light cast everything in a soft, tranquil light, all the shadows long and stretched out. The ground was soft, almost peat-like and the twittering of the birds that were flitting about from tree to tree was enchanting.

The trail swerved right and lead its way uphill on a sandy vehicle track. It then dipped down through groves of blackened twigs and grass trees (Xanthorrhoea australis) that lined the path. I came upon a junction at the 1.29 km mark, turning left following the markers, and another junction at the 2.96 km mark, turning right instead, that following a seemingly endless sandy road that swerved Southward once again after rounding a hill. The path ran parallel to a fence that strangely enough seemed to have an almost identical path on the other side. I came upon another junction at the 3.27 km mark but took a left turn this time.

The Western Bearded Dragon

The Western Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor)

The trail lead up to a large warning sign that mentioned an alternate route that went left instead to Kilcarnup Road, then Southward on to Caves Road, before turning right in to Wallcliffe Road to meet the C2C track. The tidal times that I had with me indicated that the tide would be high by the time I reached the Margaret River crossing. The fact that it had rained the night before and that I was carrying a large amount of electronic items made me decide to take the alternate route instead, "rather be safe than sorry" as they say... I made note that the map on the board said that I would need to turn right at the next crossroads and then continued on Eastwards.

I trudged along the path as mice and lizards scuttled into the bushes. The road ran parallel to some exclusive 'escapes', some sort of luxury holiday home, just before coming upon the crossroads. I turned right, as the map had said and since there were no signposts or road names that I could see. This is where I went wrong - the map had not mentioned the crossroads that I had come upon and had just mentioned the right turn at the junction further up on to Caves Road. The path became more and more uninteresting as time went on. My shadow had been on my right at the beginning but as it began to drift infront of me, I knew that I had taken the wrong path and had somehow ended up on a 4WD trail instead. By the time I realised this, too much time had passed so I made the decision to press on knowing that the path would either intersect with one of the roads that I was supposed to have taken or that it would lead back to the coast and merge on to the C2C track.

It turned out to be the latter. The path emerged at the South end of Kilcarnup beach, where it intersected the C2C track that continued on Southward, heading uphill through shrubbery along the coast of Cape Mantelle.

Kilcarnup beach

Kilcarnup beach

Next : Cape to Cape Day 04 – Ellensbrook to Conto’s Campsite (Part 2)

Cape to Cape Index

Cape to Cape Index

Margaret River

Margaret River

As I came upon the mouth of Margaret River, I realised that my prior concerns had been completely unfounded. The crossing turned out to be just a long sandbar, a stretch of sand that was easily traversed. I climbed up the stairway on the other end that merged on to Rivermouth Road and walked along the narrow trail that lead up the hill on the left side of the road (following the sign that said 'Pedestrians').

The top of the hill rewarded me with magnificent views of Margaret River and Walcliffe crag that lined its side. Walcliffe crag is relatively small compared to Bob's Hollow and Wilyabrup, having only approximately 20 bolted routes. Too bad I didn't have a belayer then! All I could do was soak in the views for a while, before continuing along the path before crossing Wallcliffe Road and back on to the Cape to Cape track.

Margaret River

Margaret River with Walcliffe crag on the right

The trail from here was basically a fire trail that was to act as a fire break - extremely wide, very plain and completely uninteresting. I trudged through this long, dreary section keeping my head in the clouds to pass the time. As the trail began to meander its way atop the hill, the sight of rolling hills and the sea in the distance began to appear, marking the end of the section. The closer I got, the lighter my footsteps became. The sun began to emerge from behind the dense cloud cover bringing a smile back to my face.

Boodjidup Brook

There was a noticeable spring in my steps as I descended the hundreds of log steps down to Boodjidup Bridge, my pace quickening, excited by the lush greenery at the bottom. The clearing around the bridge was gorgeous - soft, lush green grass everywhere, shaded by the branches of the trees as they stretched upwards towards the sky - and would have made a perfect campsite. The water in the brook however, was stagnant, murky and turbid.

Boodjidup Bridge

360 Panorama

Next : Cape to Cape Day 04 – Ellensbrook to Conto’s Campsite (Part 3)

Cape to Cape Index

Cape to Cape Index

Redgate Beach

As I made my way out of the gully from Boodjidup Bridge, I saw a fairly large grey snake (Suborder: Serpentes) slither off the track and into the tall grass that lined the trail. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to identify it, so the species will just have to remain a mystery. Snakes are very sensitive to vibrations and can sense animals (and humans) approaching by detecting the faint vibrations that travel through the air and the ground. The chances of surprising them had greatly increased now that I was travelling alone, so I reminded myself to remain vigilant.

The trail meandered (whilst remaining parallel to the brook) before dipping down to the sandy beach once again. The strong headwind that greeted me there was strong enough to be refreshing but fortunately not strong enough to render any sand airborne. I whipped off my shoes hurriedly, glad to be able to walk barefoot once again.

This stretch of beach turned out to be just short enough to walk in one uninterrupted stretch (4.5 km) and by the time notions of stopping for a rest started to manifest themselves, the granulite boulders that marked the end of Redgate beach were already upon me.

Redgate beach

I decided to stop anyway, but for a refreshing dip in the ocean instead. Despite being a strong swimmer, I took care to stay out of the way of any potential rips, especially since I was so aware of my own solitude. For some reason, I always seem to be caught by surprise at how incredibly refreshing and revitalising dips in the ocean (or lakes and rivers) are, especially after having hiked for days on end without any means to wash up. I continued on, clean and with a fresh set of clothes, feeling completely reinvigorated.

Redgate beach

The path continued on inland by dipping into a charming little grove of trees. The way the branches just seemed to erupt out from the ground and flare out, forming a canopy overhead that blotted out the sky made the whole area seem somewhat mysterious, mystical even. Time seemed to slow down as I sat down cross-legged in the middle of the path just gazing upwards, completely and utterly entranced.

Cape to Cape Grove

360 Panorama

Next : Cape to Cape Day 04 – Ellensbrook to Conto’s Campsite (Part 4)

Cape to Cape Index

Cape to Cape Index

Bob's Hollow & Canto's Campsite

Beach before Conto's Campsite

The trail began to narrow as it approached the coast once again, with limestone rock caps popping up everywhere. The stones gradually became boulders and the boulders gradually become soaring cliffs. As I began to ascend the log stairwell that made its way back inland, I was greeted with the familiar sight of the cave that marked the climbing crag of Bob's Hollow. The trail wound its way to the top of the limestone cliff, completely circumventing the climbing routes at the base.

Bob's Hollow

Bob's Hollow Sunset

As the sun began to set, tinges of yellow seemed to materialise everywhere seemingly setting everything aflame. The wonderful sea breeze whipped through sending the straps of my bag flapping, but despite the chill it brought with it, it couldn't seem to overcome the warm radiant light that the rays of the setting sun bathed me in - rays that somehow found a way to pierce through the heavy cloud cover that was roiling in the distance. The scene before me left my feet frozen in the moment, unable to move forward.

With images of the glorious sunset that I had just witnessed etched permanently in my mind, I carried along the trail, eager to beat the darkness. Before I knew it, the trail crossed Conto Road before making its way to the huge and completely overcrowded Canto's Campsite shortly after.


Route Playback

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Next : Cape to Cape Day 05 – Conto’s Campsite to Deepdene

Cape to Cape Index