Have you ever considered walking the 135-kilometre Cape to Cape trek spanning Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Margaret River region? But does the thought of camping put you off? A Walk into Luxury tour with luxurious accommodation and gourmet cuisine might just change your mind.
I’ve joined Walk into Luxury for an exclusive two-night Cape to Cape package in Margaret River, about three hours south of Perth. My tour begins with a five-course degustation and a stay at Cape Lodge and it’s the perfect way to begin a weekend escape of food, wine and walking; in that order. In saying that, traversing any part of the Cape to Cape trek does require a medium level of fitness.
Although Walk into Luxury doesn’t span the entire trail, they have opened up the track to a whole new audience wanting to stop and smell the buttercups; the experience certainly lives up to its tagline of “a new way to walk.” However, the three, four and six day treks cover a wider range of territory and terrains including limestone cliffs and caves, coastal expanses, forests, varying gradients and calf-pumping treks across beaches; the scenery may just be beautiful enough to distract you from the burn.
Treks offer a sweet taste of the landscape and include accommodation in a variety of boutique hotels including Injidup Spa Retreat, Losari Retreat, Smiths Beach Resort and there’s also one starting in Perth with a stay at the six-star COMO The treasury. Gourmet meals, wine, spa treatments, daypacks and private transfers are all part of the service. A good pair of walking shoes, light and practical clothes, a hat and camera are essential, and perhaps bring a change of clothes for a leisurely lunch.
Our chauffeur arrives at the civilized time of 9.00am and drops us off at Wyadup car park with sweeping views along the coastline where we watch for whales and frolicking dolphins. We amble through the sand dunes and rocky granite coastline to Indijup Spa Retreat boasting villas with private plunge pools, in-room massages, chefs on demand and at sunset, guests are invited to a spiritual didgeridoo performance. As the sun heats up the day, the nearby natural springs tantalise from afar.
We’re transferred to the lookout above Contos Beach and it’s an easy stroll towards the forest with a pit-stop of morning tea overlooking Cape Freycinet. There are few times I’ve ever felt so wonderfully isolated. It’s just us and the elements. The sun warms our journey as the ocean crashes in the distance. Lizards rustle amongst the natural perfume of rosemary as sea salt lingers on our lips. Its pure escapism and the luxury to indulge in unadulterated nature at will.
Heading into Boyanup Forest (Boyanup Forest), we’re dwarfed by towering karris and peppermint trees as kookaburras and cockatoos laugh at us from above in our quest for a kangaroo, echidna or possum encounter. We stride into our pick-up point where our chariot awaits with cool towels and cold water and whisks us off for a late lunch at winery Leeuwin Estate (Leeuwin Estate).
We indulge in the 2011 Leeuwin Estate Brut and panko crumbed oysters on the balcony overlooking the expansive lawn, which annually hosts concerts to the likes of Chris Isaak and Tom Jones. My host and Walk into Luxury owner Nikki King takes a moment to reminisce the day she was proposed to. This was the scene of an elaborate proposal orchestrated by her to-be fiancé, which entailed a helicopter, a “Will you marry me?” banner and exactly the same drop of Leeuwin bubbles. Ocean trout, 45-day dry aged Black Angus, a cheese platter and the Leeuwin Estate Art Series are lingered over for the rest of the afternoon in this impossibly romantic spot until our return to Cape Lodge.
Back in my lake view suite, a platter soon arrives laden with goodies off the main menu including chicken soup with truffles, Rangers Valley beef, cheese, salmon and cured meats. Resistance is useless even though today’s six-kilometre trek barely walked off lunch let alone last night’s degustation at Cape Lodge’s restaurant; one of Australia’s finest and voted one of the Top Ten in the World for Food in Conde Naste Traveller’s Gold List. The menu changes regularly and features regional specialities like venison, Donnybrook marron, Wagin duck and quail matched by a sommelier to the famous wines of Margaret River, and beyond.
We crane our necks to take in the magnitude of the midnight blue star-studded sky. The galaxy above appears to embrace our little pocket of Margaret River. Talk about receiving the star treatment. From my balcony, the turquoise lake sparkles with diamond droplets, but it’s not long until my attention is enticed by an impossibly deep bath.
Walk into Luxury offer treks all over the country and for more information please visit go to www.walkintoluxury.com.au
Carmen Jenner was a guest of Walk into Luxury and ‘Walk on the West Side’ was originally published in Luxury Travel Magazine in 2016.