Frenchmans Bay & Bald Head Hike, Albany

On Sunday we ventured down to Frenchmans Bay. Skipping breakfast. It wasn’t a mistake but entirely planned. You see the plan in fact was to head out about 7ish, visit the The Gap, followed by the Blowholes and then complete the 12km Baldhead Hike. Last time I was in Albany for work, I did detour to the gap and the queues of cars were well beyond the car park. So, we played it safe.

Naturally it was too safe. Not only were we the first to arrive, we were most likely first to leave. Likely reason, early, cool, low season. That said, by the time we left there were 3 cars in the car park.

The Gap and Natural Bridge Car Park

The Gap isn’t any more of a natural marvel than most cliffs or gaps between cliffs, but visitors come here to stand atop the engineering masterpiece that almost straddles the gap, inducing heart attacks for those with a fear of heights, fear of loud noise, fear of nature etc. Weak dispositions should avoid this spot. It’s an impressive viewing platform. I was humbled by the sound and magnitude of the crashing waves. Great to have the place to yourself.

Only 30m away is the natural bridge. A natural bridge formed when rocks underneath gave way, it wasn’t very exciting to look at, and even less exciting to photograph. I mean I did, I can’t help it, but they’re just not very exciting, even as snapshots.

We jumped back into the car and headed further east on the peninsula. Next objective was the blow hole. Holes in the rock, waves crash in underneath, shoot up the blow hole into the sky, blowing through the hole. Long story short, we went, there was no blowing. It made the trek a little underwhelming, especially considering the amount of steps the had to be climbed.

Further east, in fact as far east as one could drive we parked up in the Bald Head Hike car park. I knew it was approximately 12km in length a there and back walk, but I didn’t realise until we parked that it was a grade 5. I’ve found the grading system tends to rate the gradient and technical aspect of the hike rather than the distance, but I think grade 5 is pretty spot on for this one.

The start of the walk was an almost immediate climb up a boardwalk. It was steep but at this stage we were quietly confident this was probably as hard as it was going to get. Top of the first peak and nothing too impressive until we came to the edge of the first peak leading into the first trough. The bush and shrubbery cleared and the view opened up.

The view coming down the first hill

The walk wasn’t too easy at this stage but it wasn’t exactly hard either. Big steps on half sand, half rock, but pretty straight forward, the hardest part was resisting the temptation to take photos all around. This continued for most of the journey to the end of Flinders Peninsula.

Looking to the start point (behind the hill)

As we reached the 3km mark, unfortunately Louise had to bow out. She’d been suffering with sneezy/coughy/yacky feelings so she’d had enough. I expect she’d had enough of the views. One human can only take in so many vistas!

Towards the 6 km mark the trail varied towards bouldering, sandy and some woodland terrain. At one stage, I was on a peak looking down at my destination and then noticed the tiny ant people that had started their hike ahead of me on their return journey. Heading down the hill I was on was nothing but sand I could gracefully slide down. I was not looking forward to the return journey, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected it to be.

At the end of the walk (that is, actually the half way point), the view was of water and the surrounding rocks, islands, peninsula. It was windy and I was glad I brought my wind proof jacket and neck sock along!

On the walk back I decided to pack the camera away and quick march it back to the car. The whole 12km (ish) took me 4.5hrs.

It’s worth noting that there’s plenty of wildlife, including spiders and something I’d never seen before – The caterpillar conga line. I’ve read that they autonomously follow the cat’ in front and that if you guide the one at the front to follow the one at the back, they’ll walk in circles forever. I found this to be pretty amazing…and also a little morbid.

I returned to the car, we raced down to the Vancouver Street Cafe. It’s a favourite cafe of mine in Albany and hasn’t let me down once for lunch and breakfast. Must try the Saffra cake, it was perfect after the long hike.

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