The natural attractions of the Great Southern offer a multitude of hidden gems to explore. Whether you crave expansive ocean views, a sense of stillness during a nature walk surrounded by towering trees, or simply to sit back and enjoy the amazing flavours of local produce and wine, you are spoiled for choice in our region.
Christina from our Cellar Door team hiked the Bald Head Trail earlier this year and shares her insights into this challenging walk and some of her other picks of the Torndirrup National Park and South Coast.
Bald Head Trail: An Amazing Natural Attraction in the Great Southern
Taking the time to plan a trip around the region has its benefits, particularly when activities require the majority of the day to complete. One such activity is the Bald Head Trail in Torndirrup National Park outside of Albany. At the spit of the south-east facing Flinders Peninsula, this 12.5km return hike provides sweeping views of the Southern Ocean, stunning beaches only accessible by boat, and rocks lining each of its steep sides. The track is ever-changing, from boardwalks to solid rock and a difficult trek through a sand dune, this is definitely a demanding hike suitable for fit and able walkers. Averaging 4-6 hours to complete, be sure to carry plenty of drinking water as there are no refill stations and very little shade. It is advised to hike on an overcast day and to avoid going out in extremely hot conditions.
Since you walk the same trail out and back, reaching the ‘end’ of the peninsula is only the halfway point of the walk, marked with a massive rock cairn. You are treated to spectacular 360° views of the ancient landscape around you. Feeling the ferocity of the wind and the intensity of the waves crashing below you, the power of nature is breathtaking. (At the time of writing, the Bald Head Trail is closed for maintenance works. It is expected to re-open in August 2022).
Refresh Yourself at Misery Beach
Once the hike is complete, the temptation to enjoy the beaches along the Flinders Peninsula can be satisfied! The view down to the coastline from the height of the trail is spectacular, but there is a humbling experience from the opposite perspective: a staggering view of impressive cliffs from the sand. There are plenty of beaches along Flinders Peninsula that provide this jaw-dropping beauty, Frenchman Bay and Misery Beach being the closest to the trailhead. Misery Beach was named the Best Beach in Australia in 2022 by Tourism Australia, with an impressive granite outcrop providing protection from the south and west. This beach provides calm and inviting water for swimming (if it’s not too cold!). There are no life-saving services in the national park so care should be taken to follow the advice from signage to ensure it is safe to enter the water.
Alternative Adventures in Torndirrup National Park
Despite the Bald Head Trail’s temporary closure, Torndirrup National Park has numerous pockets of beauty to explore. If you are eager to embark on a challenging hike, start at the Peak Head Trail. This hike brings you to the southernmost point of the park along a rugged 4.3km return walk, and includes a rock scramble to the summit for experienced hikers. This path comes alive during wildflower season and can be connected to the Stony Hill Heritage Trail. From the trailhead, this short 500m walk marks the highest point in the national park, providing 360° views of the peninsula and Albany.
For a more tranquil adventure, the Point Possession Heritage Trail is a spectacular 5km loop walk through the bush and along the beaches lining the Vancouver Peninsula. With picnic tables overlooking Shoal and Frenchman Bays, you can pack an esky full of lunch, a bottle of Singlefile wine and enjoy a break from the action. Some other favourites include Salmon Holes, the Blowholes and Cable Beach. You can see the end of Bald Head from the lookout points at The Gap and Natural Bridge, where you can marvel at the wonders of nature. Standing on the platform to admire the intensity of the ocean crashing beneath you is worth visiting multiple times since the sea conditions change daily. Torndirrup National Park requires a park pass or day rate entry fee to maintain and protect the region.
On Your Way Home
On the way to Denmark from Torndirrup National Park, take the scenic route along Lower Denmark Road to continue exploring. West Cape Howe is home to Shelley Beach and multiple 4WD tracks, including along the sand on Muttonbird Beach. Stop by the Elleker General Store for a bite to eat and enjoy the view from Lowlands Beach. These are just a few recommendations of natural landscapes along the southern coastline to explore while visiting the Great Southern. For a well-deserved reward after an eventful day, pop into the Singlefile Cellar Door between 11am - 5pm for a complimentary seated tasting, glass of wine, or cup of Stash coffee. Our friendly team would love to hear about your adventures!
Thank you to Christina for her reflections, and for the beautiful pictures of the Bald Head Trail and Misery Beach above!