This time last year, I would have scoffed at the idea of doing multi-day hikes.
Admittedly I love walking and see it as a great vehicle to seek adventure and explore remote locations but in a way the opportunity hadn’t presented itself – until I received the call last year from my beautiful friend, Trevor Hendy to team up with the LifeChanger foundation. If you haven’t heard of LifeChanger, it’s a brand spanking new initiative set up to create a generational shift in society, providing every young Australian with the opportunity to develop a positive personal identity, empowering them to live their best life! Something that is surely missing in today’s youth.
LifeChanger, through its identified 5 pillars of positive self-identity, hope to change these statistics through their digital platform and face to face workshops.
The aim of the LifeChanger Challenges (this is our second, LCC1 – South Coast Track was our first) is to provide an opportunity to raise, support and awareness for the LifeChanger Foundation and its programs. Willing participants are prepared over 6 weeks for a physical, spiritual and emotional journey of self-discovery, social impact and relationship building. The challenge of the event is minimal compared to the self-satisfaction that accompanies the event. Forming relationships, supporting each other through the trek, depluging from the world, removing the ‘noise’ and reconnecting with yourself and nature far overrides the kilometres walked. But it’s also pretty satisfying to tick it off the list!
Anyways, back to the trek
Why My Cape to Cape Walk in Western Australia is a LifeChanger
The Cape to Cape walk is situated in south Western Australia and runs from Cape Leeuwin lighthouse to Cape Naturalist Lighthouse – around 135km in total, with a whole chunk of it being soft sand. It’s recommended to complete the walk in a comfortable 6-9 days – we set the challenge to be at Bunker Bay Resort within 4 ½ days. Challenge accepted!
The lead up consisted of racking up 20km walks – with a day pack of 5kg. It was a welcome idea after our trek in Tasmania saw us carrying 25kg throughout the hike. Fortunately this time, we were gifted the help of a support crew (thanks Steve and Trent!) and met each lunchtime and evening with our tents and meals, so in a way it was pure luxury!
With the crew flying in from Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast – we met up in Perth, with some WA folk on day 1 for our charter flight with Complete Aviation to Augusta. Splitting into 2 groups we changed into our trekking gear and after a photo of where the Indian and Southern oceans meet, plus a kiss of the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, we set off on our first section of the trek – an 18km beach walk. This saw us arrive at our first camp for the night. Or so we thought.
After reaching our end point right on dusk at Deepdene, the news wasn’t good. The park rangers had locked the gate that would have allowed us to camp closer to the beach. So instead of the 4wds meeting us – we had to walk a further 2km – uphill, to meet our gear. Set up was quite simply along a dusty 4wd track but after travelling since 4.30am that morning, we were happy just see the end.
Was welcomed in with a light dusting of rain. After breakfast, there was a quick pull down of tents and walk back to beach before we were off. The overcast conditions were perfect for hiking and really did give us a false sense of what may come over the next couple of days.
The cape to cape track weaves through coastal heathland around the back of cape Hamelin, to cosy corner where we paused for a while – with a guided yoga session perched on top elephant rock with our effervescent yogi, Jayne Hope. Personally, this is where I was able to really drop everything breathe in the surroundings. After rushing like a crazy women in the days leading up – it was nice to stop, reflect and reset to the environment and purpose. After hiking along stunning limestone rock formations, blow holes, more sand while being amazed at the tame and rather large stingrays in breathtaking Hamelin Bay, we reached lunch at Boranup Beach. Wraps with banana, peanut butter and Nutella never tasted so good! (Track note to self – had to scale massive sand dune to be rewarded for lunch!)
After lunch we were off on a 7km walk along Boranup Beach. When I say beach walk I do mean soft sand beach walk. There is no such thing as ‘hard sand’ in this neck of the woods with a many being introduced to their hip flexor muscles! I struggle to find words to describe just how beautiful it is on this track with absolutely breathtaking views and beaches around every corner. We finally reach Boranup Forest and enjoy a Karri tree forest walk to our final destination and camp spot 2 at Condos (via detour at Cape Freycinet)
Night 2 had a very special and magical feel. We were greeted by indigenous Wardani elders who are the Traditional Custodians of the land. As we were setting amongst the Karri trees, we were told stories that reflected their time and struggles. I did miss out on a few tales as I was helping prep dinner (local fish) with MasterChef Hayden Quinn, but it certainly left a lingering feeling for the rest of our journey.
It was a late night again, and with weary legs, it was straight to bed as day 3 was looming and set to be our longest yet.
At the sound of the 5am alarm day 3 begins. By this time, you usually have a good routine happening. Clothes are put in your tent the night before so it’s a matter of getting changed, packing up your mattress, sleeping bag, tent and then fitting in breakfast before setting off at 6.30am. If we didn’t start early there was no way we could make it to our campsites by sunset.
The ladies headed out first today in honour of International Women’s Day – which inevitably set the scene for the remaining days 😉 Our walk to lunch was around vast cliff faces as we were treated to amazing views of the local surf breaks. Caves (giants cave), rock pools, a large python slowly digesting a rabbit, and sand dunes brought us to Margaret River – our midday stop with the name living up to the reputation with a side show of locals carving up the waves.
With an abundance of fish leftover from the previous night, we were spoilt with fish tacos prepared by the lovely Mel and Maria who were resting up and re-joining us that afternoon. The days were getting hot, with no cloud cover we were all guzzling fluids and attempting to cover up from the sun as best we could. Long sleeves, full brim hats and water bladders were the fashions of the day – with sand gaiters proving their worth as were our walking poles.
The track from here took us along the beach, past 1 million year old limestone cliff’s (Joey’s nose) and through coastal scrub to Ellensbrook Homestead. Overheating by this point we rested in the shade alongside kangaroos and regrouped for our final stage of the day past Meekadarabee Falls and through to Gracetown.
With word we were camping in a public campground with a shower facility was absolute heaven to our ears. After walking for 3 days we were all pretty grubby, sweaty and in need of a scrub so we may have been forgiven for over using our 5 minute shower limit! With a BBQ for dinner, tonight was the first chance we had to group together for a chat and tell our stories.
Was another early start, with a few activities planned for the day. After hiking for around 13km past more infamous surf breaks we arrived at Willyabrup Cliffs, were we were greeted by harnesses, helmets and a fear of heights!
The massive Willyabrup sea cliffs formed from old and resistant granitic rocks are a mecca for climbers, and make an impressive backdrop to this part of the Cape to Cape Track. Perhaps we were inspired by our capabilities to do amazing shit, as everyone took the challenge and faced their fears. I was sure as heck not looking down the 50 metre drop before I walked off the cliff edge and turned on my Bear Grylls for a moment or two 😉 With shaking legs I reached the bottom and was greeted with a big hug from tour leader Mark George and rather chuffed with my efforts! This was one of the highlights of my trip and something you don’t ordinarily experience. Massive thanks to Scotty for setting this up!
Time was now against us so, it was a hot, long walk to lunch past Moses Rock, more remote surf breaks only accessed through 4wd tracks and finally onto lunch and a swim at Injidup Point. Ahh, I finally hit the water here and it felt amazing. If I wasn’t so hungry I would have happily stayed there the rest of the day but it was a quick lunch, shoes back on and off to watch the sunset at Canal Rocks.
Canal rocks…wow… Simply amazing and quite possibly the best time to visit was on sunset. We couldn’t resist, stopping a while and admiring the formations of boulders and rock pools that locals proudly share. Procrastinating the fact that we still hadn’t reached our camp for the night, with head torches on we skittled it past Smiths Beach, and around the corner to Yallingup for the night.
It’s at this point I must thank my beautiful tent buddy, and foundation founding partner, Mel Cavallaro. We shared some deep discussions and felt inspired by your willingness to take on the challenges. I really do hope you feel much stronger for the experience and I can’t wait to continue our journey as LifeChangers together.
After a blustery night of having the tent whip me on the back, we were once again woken to the discussions happening in Scott, James and Stews tent. Let me say, without the banter and conversation and encouragement of others there is a high chance none of us would have finished this walk. The fact that sharing an experience like this with other likeminded individuals is what makes these adventures complete.
With a smaller day ahead, in comparison to the rest, it was nice to take our time (even a turmeric latte!) and begin with a morning yoga session with Jayne by Yallingup beach followed by a sup/surf. Even though it was blowing 30 knot offshore, nothing was going to stop us. Lacing the shoes back on and after a stifling hot 11km walk down the track, we stopped at stunning Sugarloaf Rock for swimming and lunch (apparently even hot chips but I didn’t see any of these… Leo!)
With only 3km of formed path to go (Yah), we reached our final destination of Cape Naturalist lighthouse. Major celebrations went down and we were all very emotional with what we had achieved. Pullman Bunker Bay Resort hosted us for the evening with a wine tasting and amazing BBQ dinner on the veranda overlooking the ocean.
So, in total
Day 1 Cape Leeuwin to Deepdene – 20km
Day 2 – Deepdene to Contos – 32km
Day 3 – Contos to Gracetown – 33km
Day 4 – Gracetown to Yallingup – 34km
Day 5 – Yallingup to Cape Naturaliste – 18km
= 137km – with a few others bits and pieces thrown in
Thank you Scotty, Trev for including me on this unbelievable journey. I saw many people’s lives change on this trip with many vowing to do things differently once they returned home. This kind of extremeness is good for stuff like that and I can’t wait to get busy with LifeChanger in the future.
To everyone that formed the LCC2 tight knit group (in no particular order)
Scott and Nic Brownbill, cameraman extraordinaire Rick Rifici, Clayton Lyndon, Amanda Peppard, Jayne Hope, Scott Watters, Mark George, Trevor Hendy, Steph McNamara, Mel Cavallaro, Maria Smith, Sam Riley, James Mollison, Leo Crohan, Shane Ward, Hayden Quinn, Stewart Laughton, Steve Newport, Trent Dennis-Lane and Ian Lowther, you are all a bunch of legends and we will forever carry this trip close to our hearts.
Also to the sponsors – Patagonia for their generous reduced rates on gear, Complete Aviation getting us there safely, Melrose Health for their supplements, Pullman Bunker Bay, and MyDNA for your invaluable support.
So you may not want to get this involved but you can help from the comfort of your home. Head over to my mycause page and find my name on the list to donate towards what is a ground-breaking program to create a generational shift in society, providing every young Australian with the opportunity to develop a healthy personal identity, empowering them to live their best life! Plus it’s all 100% tax deductible!
Here’s some startling facts
YOUTH SUICIDE is the number 1 killer of young Australians
Up to 75% of MENTAL ILLNESS emerges before 25 years of age
1 in 6 kids has been diagnosed with an ANXIETY DISORDER (7-15 yrs.)
1 teenager in every classroom has a GAMBLING ADDICTION
50% increase in hospital admissions because of children SELF-HARMING between 2010 and 2015.
1 in 5 kids have deliberately SNIFFED INHALANT (12-17 yrs.)
38% of adolescents CONSUME ALCOHOL weekly (14+ yrs.)
1 in 4 young Australians LEAVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM prematurely
50% of teenagers experience CYBER BULLYING
1 in 4 kids are OVERWEIGHT & OBESE (5-17 yrs.)
36,000 CRIMINAL OFFENCES by young Australians in Melbourne in the last 12 months (10-17 yrs.)
If I’ve got your juices going after reading this post and you would love to join us on another LifeChanger Challenge, now is the time! Register your interest now for the upcoming LCC #3 – Larapinta – Meet the Desert Challenge in July or LCC#4 – Lord Howe Island Exclusive Experience in September. With spots limited to a small group be sure to secure your place (as at 22nd March).