Jill and Beverly’s Second Epic Adventure February 2016

Amazing how quickly you can plan and undertake an adventure when your friend gets unexpected holidays. As I work for myself I can take time off pretty much when I want as long as I have reliable staff to work the couple of shifts I do each week. The work I do in my home office such as accounts, administration tasks and management can be attended to as required, irrespective of where I am.

As we had an incredible experience the last time we did an Adventure in Margaret River, a return trip was an obvious choice. Once again we were able to get reasonably priced accommodation through Jill’s Union. This time we weren’t as organised and didn’t book our activities before we left, but we had an idea of what we wanted to do.

Day One

We left Perth around 9am and had a leisurely relaxed drive, stopping at Cowaramup for some tasty supplies from the deli.  We visited the Margaret River Tourist Bureau to book a couple of activities namely Paddle Boarding and another abseil adventure with Mick. The Margaret River Tavern was a good choice for dinner and we planned our next day’s trek along a section of the Cape to Cape. We arranged for my friend Graham to meet us at 9am Tuesday morning at the start of the Cape to Cape Track  which is close to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse so we could leave my car at the completion of our planned walk and for him to drop us off at Cosey Corner. The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is located on the headland of Cape Leeuwin and it is the most south-westerly point on the mainland of the Australian Continent.

Day Two

Graham meet us at the carpark at the start of the track and then drove us to Cosey Corner to commence our days trek.  It was raining lightly when we started but a little rain wasn’t going to dampen our spirits. We were dropped off on a gravel road where we sighted a sign post indicating where the track crossed the road. Assuming the track would continue opposite this we commenced walking along what appeared to be a track. Of course we started to doubt ourselves when the track ceased to be a track and retraced our steps. Not seeing any indication of where the track could possibly start we decided to persevere on what we thought was the track and ventured through some overhanging bushes and shrub. Realised this couldn’t possibly be the track and once again backtracked and searched for a sign post further along the gravel road. Success at last when we found that familiar sign post and we commenced our day’s trek. Pleased to report we didn’t venture off the trail again that day as this section is well sign posted. We had previously been told this was one of the prettiest sections of the track and the photos show it clearly is. A relatively easy 21 km walk along a limestone ledge overlooking the beach, a long stretch of beach with soft sand which is about 6.5 kms long, before heading inland through wooded forest. Every so often we would catch sight of the Leeuwin Lighthouse which gradually got closer and closer.  Along the limestone ledge we saw a number of blowholes and had to navigate some narrow sections which certainly make the trek interesting.

Cosey Corner photo (00A) photo (00B) photo (00C) photo (007) photo (008) photo (009)photo (00D) photo (00E)photo (002) photo (003) photo

 

Day 3

We meet our guide and instructor at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau for Stand Up Paddle boarding and traveled in his vehicle to a secluded picnic/campsite in the National Park. This was the same location we kayaked from with  Paul from Surf n Dirt Adventure Tours on our first Epic Adventure last September.   We started in one of the tributaries to the Blackwood River to learn the intricacies of Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Standup Paddle Boarding or SUP for those in the know was a little challenging initially, as you need to gain the confidence to stand up and balance yourself. Certainly works your core as you have to constantly work to stabilise yourself. Jill was a natural and more confident than I was however I eventually stood up and paddled around. I alternated between standing up, kneeling and sitting on the board during my time on the water.

You are certainly thrown in the deep end as once you gain a little confidence it is straight out onto the Blackwood River for a paddle upstream. Slower going than kayaking however we both managed to handle the boards. Jill was definitely more confident and skilled than I was, however I was pleased to have another challenge or skill under my belt. We managed to stay aboard our boards right up until we turned and commenced entering the tributary. I would have stayed on except Jill crashed into me and took us both down. This necessitated us having to master climbing aboard our boards, very difficult to do. After struggling initially we were both aboard and ventured forth without any further incidents.

Our afternoon adventure was catching up with Mick Dempsey again for another abseil into a cave. Mick’s suggestion was to abseil into an open cave and climb out via a wire ladder, sound fine. Jill went first and descended easily and waited patiently at the bottom surrounded she keeps reminding me with snakes for me to descend and join her. As usual I over analyse and worry about what happens next instead of concentrating on the task in hand ie the abseil down. Once down you obviously have to get out and as Mick kept reminding me climbing the wire ladder which is tiny wouldn’t be difficult and he was there to pull us up if necessary. Three times I managed to get over the side only to come back up again and no amount of coaxing could get me to commit to the abseil. Really must get over my irrational fear of heights as once I commit and am on my way I am fine. Unfinished business and next trip to Margaret River I will do this abseil. Jill still reminds me that I left her alone and abandoned in the bottom of the cave. Mick climbed down to meet her and they explored inside the cave and then he ascended the wire ladder ready to assist Jill. It was a difficult climbed for her and Mick practically dragged her up, she was covered in bruises after her ascent but enjoyed the experience.  www.margaretriverclimbingco.com.au

We had a relaxing evening reclining in bean bags, snuggled up in our jumpers, coats and a blanket at Cape Mantelle winery

Day 4

Jill only wanted to do a short walk today so we intended walking from Yallingup to Smiths Beach and return a relative short distance. I never like backtracking and as it panned out our plans changed over the course of the trek. Once through Yallingup we commenced the beach section of our walk. Stunning outlook once we got back onto solid ground and climbed up a very steep ascent. As usual we took a wrong turn and realised our mistake quickly when we were atop a large hill with no descent paths. Not deterred we took the opportunity to have a snack break. Not sure if it was the spectacular scenery, serenity or feeling at one with nature but it became a spiritual break. Jill and I talked about her husband Justin who died a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. Jill saying that she pushes herself to experience our adventures not only for herself but because Justin didn’t get the opportunity. We retraced our steps and found the right path and continued walking along the cliff top path. We decided to keep walking until we reached a certain car park and then get a taxi from Dunsborough to come and pick us up and drive us to our car. However the car park we intended walking to was not on the Cape to Cape Track and we ended up walking a few kilometres further. We googled taxis and a very friendly lady answered our call and said she would be with us in ten minutes. Enjoyed our taxi ride with her as she was very knowledgeable and friendly and will certainly use her services again.

Cape to Cape Signphoto (018) photo (017) photo (016) photo (015) photo (014) photo (013) photo (012) photo (01C) photo (01B) photo (01A)

The day concluded with a late lunch at a nice restaurant and a visit to Lavender Cottage for scones with lashings of lavender jam and cream.

Day 5

I got up early and packed my things and cleaned up some of the apartment whilst Jill was still sleeping. Decided to walk into the main street of Margaret River to fill in some time before we packed the car for our return to Perth. We had a leisurely trip back to Perth and Jill managed to attend her Personal Training session at her local Gym in the afternoon whilst I went to Yoga. Another great adventure completed and looking forward to the next one.

Regards Beverly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill and Beverly’s Epic Adventure September 2015

Jill and I had tossed around the idea of walking the Cape to Cape for a few months.  The Cape to Cape Track is situated in the far south western corner of Western Australia and is one of Australia’s iconic walking tracks.  It runs for 135 km through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and is situated between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.  The Track mostly follows the coastline and trekkers are rewarded with spectacular sweeping cliff-top views with stretches of pristine beach and also several sections that are inland through the Boranup Karri Forest and sheltered woodlands. The Friends of the Cape to Cape have a comprehensive website www.capetocapetrack.com.au for those wanting more information or wishing to undertake the trek.

As Jill didn’t want to tackle the entire track on this occasion I planned a 5 day break with a couple of sections of the track plus some other new adventures.  We referred to this as Jill and Beverly’s Epic Adventure and it certainly started off that way. We set off around midday on a sunny Sunday morning with the aim of staying overnight at Four Seasons Caravan Park www.fourseasonsresort.com.au which is owned by my friend Bill. We were cruising along the freeway and a warning light came indicating I had lost tyre pressure in one of my tyres. As my car has run flat tyres and no spare we travelled slowly to a service station. When the tyre wouldn’t take any air we called the RAC and waited patiently for them to arrive. Unfortunately the tyre needed to be replaced and my car was towed home and we had to wait until the next morning to replace the tyre.

The next morning I decided to ere on the side of caution and replaced all four tyres and once again we set off on the Epic Adventure. Monday was overcast with drizzle but that didn’t dampen our spirits, however the late start did necessitate a change of plans for Day 1 trek from Canal Rocks to Cape Naturalist a distance of 18.5 kilometres to a shorter trek from Yallingup to Cape Naturalist. It was still very overcast when we pulled into a carpark just outside the township of Yallingup. We had wet weather gear which we hastily put on as it was starting to rain heavily. Back packs on and appropriate attire we set off looking for the first post with the Cape to Cape emblem on it. Initially the track was well marked, spirits were high and rain eventually stopped and we settled into the walk. Scenery was spectacular and we became used to the marked posts every 500 metres or so.  We were walking along a road which appeared to be a four wheel track and passed a group of people trekking from the opposite direction. We learnt very quickly that the path is not always well marked when the path/four wheel drive track veered slightly to the right. As there was no contra indication that the path continued straight ahead we veered left and continued walking eventually coming to a carpark with a toilet block. At times we doubted we were on the right path with Jill commenting we hadn’t seen a sign post for a long time, I commented that I was concerned we didn’t see any tracks from the group we had passed. At the carpark/toilet area feeling uncertain we walked down to the cliff face and couldn’t see any sign posts indicating that the cape to cape track proceeded along the rocky cliff top. In the absence of any signposts to the contrary we continued along the same path, questioning ourselves constantly and referring to our guidebook when doubt set in which it often did. Our guidebook didn’t say anything about a gate which blocked our path and being total novices at this trekking caper we went through and continued walking along the gravel track. Even a dodgy section that had two rubber strips that even to us novices suggested it was to stop vehicles from slipping on the incline didn’t stop our determined trek in the direction we assumed the lighthouse was as Cape Naturalist. We appeared to be heading towards a telecommunications tower and we were fully aware that several hours had already passed since we started and by our calculations we should have been enjoying a hot chocolate and marshmallows by now.  As we were sitting beside the road, once again studying the guide book, discussing our growing suspicion that we were surely well and truly lost and off the cape to cape track a car came along and enquired if we were okay. I asked if we were on the Cape to Cape track and we were quickly informed that we were several kilometres of track. We apparently were close to a road which lead us to the lighthouse however we needed to make the right decision as darkness was less than an hour away. Ahead was more unknown but the promise of a road that was frequented by numerous vehicles we could flag down for a lift, whilst behind us was a path though the wrong path for our intended planned destination held no unknowns as we had already traversed it. The added benefit was if we hurried we perhaps could get back to where we made the wrong turn so when we attempted that section again we wouldn’t make the same mistake.

With headlights, warmer clothes, water and snacks in our backpacks we turned around and retraced our steps thoroughly enjoying our adventure despite being temporary off track, some doomsayers may say lost. When we again reached the toilet block/car park we walked down to the cliff checking for signs indicating that the goat tracks could be the actual cape to cape, however no signs. The only alternate was to continue along the same path. Darkness was descending and it was starting to get chilly when we eventually discovered were we had drifted of the Cape to Cape track which was right back where the original track veered slightly to the right. We should have continued straight ahead to a rocky goat track which had a marked sign post a short distance along. That section of the track needs to be better marked especially where the track deviates and changes.

We continued onwards towards Yallingup by the light of our headlights, reminding ourselves how many times we have been caught out by miscalculating distances in the past despite vowing never to put ourselves in the position of walking through bushland at night again. Both knowing it won’t be the last time and that each time we will chide ourselves but enjoy every moment of the adventure or misadventure.

What a welcome sight when you see the lights of your destination getting closer and closer and knowing that the warmth of the car is not far off. We started our trek at 1pm and arrived back at the car around 7pm on what should have been at the most a 4 hour trek. The experience gained from our first attempt at trekking the Cape to Cape was invaluable however we were to learn, a couple of days later that wouldn’t stop us from getting off track again.

We headed into Margaret River to our accommodation for the next four night. Sore muscles from the trekking were soon forgotten after we were fed, showered and in bed.

Day Two began with a ride through the National Park for a few hours on electric quad bikes. It was bitterly cold and drizzling but when you are on an adventure experiencing something new such trivial inconveniences don’t rate. Our guide was knowledgeable and passionate about the area and to gain approval to operate within the national park had to pass stringent conditions to satisfy the eco standards. The bikes had been modified to the operator’s specifications and were the first of their kind in Australia. We stopped at a few significant landmarks on the ride, which was fortuitous when we embarked on our second adventure for the day which was abseiling with Mick. We were shown Dingo’s solution pipe which leads down into cave 12 metres down. The solution pipe is formed by tree roots. www.ecoadventuresmargaretriver.com

Dingo cave

Dingo Cave via Solution Pipe

Quad bikes

After a quick lunch we met Mick Dempsey from Margaret River Climbing Company for our afternoon abseil adventure at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau. We asked where we would be abseiling and Mick said Dingo’s solution pipe. Having seen Dingo’s we said in unison no way, it is too small, difficult and frightening you need to find us another solution. Solution two was an abseil into Jewel cave, exploration of the cave and an easy climb out. Mick was very encouraging and patient with both of us, not sure about being called “Chickadee” though. To access the cave we had to walk backwards down the wire caged ramp and step blindly into the narrow opening leading into the cave. It was a dark and a little scary walk down several metres inside the solution pipe, but once through the solution pipe the cave opened up and we did a freefall abseil into the cave. My nervousness with abseiling is always there until I am well under way.  Mick abseiled down to join us in the cave and we explored deep within the cave. We concluded the day with afternoon tea provided by Mick. www.margaretriverclimbingco.com.au

Beverly Abseiling Jill Abseiling

 

Day Three was to be a simple coastal and forest walk from Hamelin Bay to Cantos camp ground a distance of 20 kms with a considerable amount on soft sand. We had arranged for a local business who provide a drop off/pick up service for people walking the Cape the Cape. Bearing in mind our knowledge of the intricacies of the Cape to Cape were what we gleaned from the guidebook, it would be reasonable to expect that our driver, who was exceptionally experienced with the track would advise us that were we were leaving our car was approximately 4 kms from the track and ask us if we wanted to park closer. However I am getting ahead of myself and this didn’t become an issue until much later in the day.

We started with much enthusiasm at 9am and expected to finish this section within five hours which was not an unreasonable expectation. The sand was soft and the walking was difficult but the weather and views made up for the discomfort. We were disappointment that on this occasion the stingrays were nowhere to be seen. The beach walking went on for a few hours and we had a steep climb up a slippery sand hill at the end of the beach walk. A rough rocky uphill four wheel track had to be climbed to gain access to the forest part of the walk. We were making reasonable time, having an enjoyable time chatting and solving the problems of the world and the track was well sign posted. It is always could when you are trekking and run into fellow trackers heading in the opposite direction. Early afternoon we ran into a large group and they advised us we had about 4 kms to go so I upped the pace and was keen to finish. We came to a camp ground that was mentioned in our guidebook and just outside the camp ground the directions went awry. We had a t-junction obviously we wouldn’t go to the left as we would be heading back the way we had just came but along a road instead, a gate blocking a road was to the right and to us it made sense to continue straight ahead. No signs anywhere so we both decided to walk towards the beach which was obviously in front of us. Big mistakes which we realised after an hour of walking and no end in sight however we were unsure of where we went wrong so turning around didn’t make sense. We eventually hit a limestone gravel road that ran along the cliffs and knew the direction the camp ground was in. We were weary, foot sore and a little over trekking so when a ute came hurtling along behind us we hailed him down to check where we were and how far we had to go. He informed us that we were well off the track which we knew and that the camp ground was at least 5 kms away. A quick assessment of our situation and the time of day convinced us that it would be prudent to accept his offer of a lift to our car. A couple of kms along we discovered where the trail crossed the road we were on and realised we should have turned right and gone through the closed gate. Lessons learnt that day were the guide book is not as comprehensive as it should be, ask more questions and that the trail needs to be clearly marked at each junction and if we don’t see frequent signs turn road and retrace our steps to the last sign. Besides our getting off track or lost we did have an enjoyable day and our enthusiasm for trekking was still strong.

Day Four was kayaking on the Blackwood River and four wheel driving with Paul from Surf n Dirt Adventure Tours. We meet Paul at the Margaret River Tourist Bureau and travelled in his late model four wheel drive vehicle to a secluded camp area in the National Park. We had a double kayak which we launched in a tributary to the Blackwood River. It was picturesque, calm and serene having a lazy easy paddle up the river, however it does take some time to become accustomed to paddling with a partner when you are used to paddling your own canoe “so to speak”.

Paul had prepared an extensive picnic lunch for us which we enjoyed in the camp ground. The afternoon concluded with some four wheel driving through the forests and roads around Margaret River. Not necessarily my idea of an adventure or a good time. www.surfndirtadventuretours.com.au

Day Five started with riding a fat bike through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Forest and along the beach. Fat bikes have wide tyres which have less air than normal bikes to provide traction, suspension, and flotation. Cam was our tour operator and we had great fun riding through the forest, the bikes were more challenging on the soft sand. www.capestocoast.com.au

Fat bikes

With the week of adventure winding up we needed to venture to Augusta for a visit and tour of the Leeuwin Lighthouse. Despite it being exceptionally windy, cold and exposed to the elements we enjoyed the informative self-guided tour. Fortified by some hot tasty cauliflower and cheese soup from the bakery we travelled to Cape Naturalist Lighthouse as we failed to make that target on Day One.

We had an uneventful trip home and as usual we had an exciting and challenging adventure.

Beverly