Unfortunately our Western Australian adventure is coming to an end. Before we wave goodbye to the deep reds of this remote state, we lace up our walking shoes for another couple of short walks in the Cape Range National Park.
Grab your hat, we’re off…
Cape Range National Park covers 506sqkm down the centre of the Exmouth peninsula, a short 1,242km drive North of Perth, Western Australia. Not only is Cape Range National Park a stunning destination in its own right, it can be found adjacent to the ultramarine blue of Ningaloo Reef. Yep – this place has a whole lot going for it.
Cape Range or ‘Warnangura’ in the Baiyungu language, has been culturally significant to the Traditional Owners for over 30,000 years. Today, Baiyungu, Thalanyji and Yinikurtura Traditional Owners together with the Parks and Wildlife Service jointly manage Cape Range National Park through the establishment of the Nyinggulu Coast Joint Management Body. Source.
Driving along the peninsula, the range looks like one mass of inaccessible cliffs and rock, and it is only when you get up close do you see its ravines and gullies leading deep into the hidden parts of the range itself.
Let’s go discover…
This short walk is located approximately 85km South of Exmouth on the western edge of the Cape Range National Park. Pulling into the carpark and seeing all the cars, I thought it was going to be busy out on the path, but we had it to ourselves.
Past the picnic area, the path hugs the edge of Yardie Creek. The mirror-like waters provide a nice contrast to the rough and rugged countryside surrounding it. I understand you can enjoy a cruise up the Creek, but the waters were peaceful and still on the day we visited.
At the very start the path it is pretty flat and clear, and then alternates between loose rock and solid surfaces underfoot as the dirt track climbs the ridgeline.
The views are spectacular regardless of where you look. Back to the sea the turquoise blue line of the ocean meets a bright white band of sand and then the red, red rock of the range. Looking inland it is rugged and barren with tufts of hardy brush determinedly growing in between the endless rocks.
Despite its apparent barrenness, life is abundant if you pause, look and listen. Rock wallabies eyed us warily from their camouflaged rock ledges and ospreys circled looking for breakfast. We spotted quite a few sea eagle nests clinging to the cliff, but no one was home that morning. Perhaps they were out to sea looking for their own breakfast.
Looking down, small desert blooms added colour to the uniform red, and bush tomatoes and other bush tucker were plentiful if you knew where to look.
This is a pretty walk and an easy walk if you don’t mind the odd steep patch and rock scramble as the walk crosses a number of gullies.
The nuts and bolts:
- Distance: This path is approximately 2.7km long.
- Time: They recommend you allow 1.75hours return, but we did it a bit quicker than that.
- Rating: This walk is rated 4 out of 5 in the level of difficulty. I know it is all relative, but I don’t think it is that challenging.
- Facilities: Very flash toilets are located in the carpark area and close by are picnic tables and interpretive signage.
- What to See: Bird and animal lovers will be rewarded on this walk as will the botanists out there.
- What to Take: Take plenty of water with you. Hiking is thirsty work and there is no water anywhere on site. Take a hat, sunscreen and fly spray. You are really out among the elements here. Solid footwear is recommend to provide good grip on the loose surfaces underfoot and provide some protection from any slithery friends you may come across.
Back in the minibus, we drive northwards to…
Yes, we are heading up another gully and even though it could be considered ‘same same’, it is also different.
By now the day was really starting to warm up, so we topped up our water bottles and reapplied the sunscreen. This was going to be a much harder walk, but no less enjoyable.
After hiking over a small ridge, we left the water views behind to set out long a dry creek bed. Lined with blinding white stones the walking is clear and level, but not necessarily easy. Those with dodgy ankles may like to take it steady over this stretch as the stones are smooth, round and seemed to be constantly shifting underfoot.
The riverbed narrows and widens as it twist and turns and the surrounding cliffs loom progressively larger. Again, birdlife was plentiful, nesting in the protected niches and behind scrubby bushes. If you started this walk early in the day, I am sure you would spot even more birdlife.
The tough part of this walk comes as you leave the riverbed to climb up onto the top of the ridgeline. A couple of lung busting climbs later, you are rewarded with more sweeping views and a very welcome cooling breeze. The path teases with numerous steep clambers into and out of gullies as we work our way on a loop back towards the coast.
The different rock formations, geology and volcanic outcrops make this a fascinating walk. If only I knew more about this stuff it would be an even richer experience.
The nuts and bolts:
- Distance: This path is approximately 3km return.
- Timing: If you can, set out on this walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon. There is little shade and you would see far more animal life.
- Rating: This walk is rated 4 out of 5 in the level of difficulty – the same as Yardie Creek and yet I think this walk may provide more challenges.
- Facilities: Other than a carpark and a couple of signs, there is zilch.
- What to Take: Take everything, including plenty of water with you.
And what better way to end our sweaty day than to pull into Turquoise Bay. It was heaven to flop and float in the warm, clear water.
Life is good in the Great Outdoors.
Why does the adventure have to end?
What: If you would like to find out more about Cape Range National Park, swing into the Milyering Discovery Centre. It was the first building of its type in Australia. Built out of rammed earth and totally powered by the sun, it houses a whole range of information about the region, souvenirs and ice cream!
When: This is a beautiful part of the World to visit anytime, but I would avoid the worst of the heat between November and March.
Why: Like so many other places in WA’s remote North, you visit for a slice of the most breathtaking landscape, rich Indigenous history, vivid colours and endless space.
How: Various commercial tour companies service this area, but for maximum convenience your own vehicle would be best. A 4WD is not required.
Who: These walks are for those who don’t mind a bit a bit of rock scrambling and getting the ol’ heart rate up on the steeper ups and downs.
Related Posts: For an equally beautiful walk with another swim on the side, don’t miss Karijini’s Dales Gorge.
Read About It: I have probably mentioned this one before, because it is one of my favourite books. Born in 1894, AB Facey tells the story of his life growing up in the West Australian bush. It is tough, but beautiful story told by this true gentleman. Go straight to Book Depository.
#caperangenationalpark #travelinspo #westernaustralia #exmouth #shortwalks #yardiecreek #daywalks #bushwalks #outbackaustralia #indigenoushistory #turquoisebay