Need to know info
Distance: Our walk was 9km return. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to Skippy Rock is about 5.5km return
Where: Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse carpark, end of Leeuwin Road, Augusta.
Time: 2-3 hours.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sturdy enclosed shoes, wet weather gear
Best time to go: Autumn and Spring are ideal. Late winter, if it’s not too windy.
The Cape to Cape Track is well known as a must-do for all walkers but the multi-day camping requirement has always been a barrier for this low-on-annual-leave contract worker.
The only way I was going to experience the Cape to Cape anytime soon was to break the nine day itinerary in to smaller day walks. I knew I had three spare leave days on the horizon, so I started planning to make it happen.
While searching online, I found plenty of information about camping and completing the Cape to Cape as a whole, but very little on the directions and vehicle entry points you’d need to create a day walk. I knew there were guide books available but it was too late to place an order online. Thankfully a member of the Trails WA Facebook group came to my rescue and recommended downloading the day walk-friendly Cape to Cape Track Guide app.
The app cost $13.99, which seemed a pricey at first, but I realised it included a very handy map that clearly marked the vehicle entry points and highlights, making it much easier to plan a day walk – and it didn’t even run off data or wi-fi! Anyway, before I start sounding like a sponsored post (which this sadly isn’t), let’s leave the app and get back to the day walks.
Having visited Margaret River many times before, we decided to base ourselves thirty minutes away in Augusta. While Augusta doesn’t have the restaurants, shops and wineries of Margs, it is home to the peaceful Hardy Inlet, impressive rugged coastline, and most importantly, the southern terminus of the Cape to Cape Track – the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
Day Walk One – Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to Skippy Rock to Augusta Cliffs.
Our first day walk was from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to Skippy Rock and then inland along the heath covered Augusta Cliffs.
The track delivers on beautiful scenery almost immediately, leading you past the Augusta waterwheel and over large, ochre coloured boulders and rock pools to Quarry Bay. Being in the middle of a stretch of stormy weather, the shore of the bay was scattered with blue bottles. Apparently these nasties can still sting you even if dead, so we did our best to avoid stepping on them.
As we continued on the track, we met something much worse than bluebottles – an unavoidable 20-metre stretch of knee-deep seaweed. Before I continue, I want to emphasise how much I completely and wholeheartedly hate seaweed. However, with the ocean on one side and a limestone cliff on the other, the only option was to grit my teeth and push ahead. After a few missteps and almost lost boots, we soon discovered the best way to cross this seaweed quicksand was with quick light steps (Note: This seaweed isn’t a normal feature of the Cape to Cape Track, so I’m sure you won’t have the same wobbly walking experience.)
Once we were free of the dreaded weed, we could easily rock-hop our way along the track up to Skippy Rock Road. The Cape to Cape Track crosses the road and continues up the hill, however we chose to take a short detour and continue on to Skippy Rock.
Skippy Rock is a small, rocky fishing beach, however at the end of the Skippy Rock carpark, we spotted a narrow trail through scrub. Curious, we followed the trail to find that it led to a barren sand dune covered in small pinnacle like rocks. Apparently these rocks were calcified trees, which seemed plausible as twig-like remnants crunched underfoot as we explored the area. The strange pinnacles combined with the starkness of the dune gave the area an otherworldly feel – much like being on the set of a dystopian sci-fi film.
For a shorter 5.5km walk, you could turn back at Skippy Rock. We chose to follow the route back along Skippy Rock Road, and carry on along the Cape to Cape.
From here the track meandered uphill through dense coastal heath scattered with wildflowers. At a small clearing surrounded by peppermint trees, we reached the Cape to Cape check point, where we signed the register (“YOLO – Bree and Jarrad”) and took a quick drink break.
Up above storm clouds were filling the sky, so decided to carry on until we found a viewpoint from the cliffs and then head back. As we continued walking, the vegetation rose higher and we began to doubt our chances of reaching the end of the cliffs and finding that elusive coastal view. The threat of rain was increasing, so we turned back only to realise there had been a view all along – it was hiding behind us! On the way down the hill, breaks in the trees offered perfectly framed views of the coast and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
To head home, we had to retrace our steps, including that awful seaweed crossing. But this time, being wiser and more confident, I showed that weed who was boss and trampled straight through it. By the time we were nearing the end point of our walk, it was quite late in the afternoon and the rain had set in. About 400 metres before the lighthouse, the sun returned and cast a glorious rainbow in front of us. Was it luck or a reward for my seaweed bravery? Regardless, it was the perfect way to wrap our first and definitely worthwhile day walk on the Cape to Cape Track.
Stay tuned for day walk two…