A Very Good Walk: Yallingup's Torpedo Trail

"This walk is a blog post!" Mike exclaimed, as the terrain changed again.

And I was sad, for although Mike is the very definition (as literal or as figurative as you wish) of supportive, his encouragment comes in ways that are not my own. Me, I will think about what a person could do and press the idea on them. "Hey," will begin the words on their Facebook wall, "have you ever thought about..." - and maybe I won't delete what I write before I press "post."

Mike, though, does not make suggestions about how I or anyone else should spend free time, save for the rare cooking or grade moderation request in my case, and those are very light suggestions.

So, for Mike to be hinting that I ought to write a post about something, that is sad right there. He wouldn't if things weren't looking pretty dusty around these parts.

Except for the days when Mike does after-school tutoring (because he's a saint, a saint who intends to keep us in show bags for the Royal Show in a few weeks), we usually walk. And because new walks are more exciting, this past Sunday we finally went to the little town of Yallingup to try an easy walk there.

I should say that we've often been a few hundred meters away from Yallingup, such as when at Canal Rocks or Ngili (sp) Cave, but we'd never actually taken the road to Yallingup itself.

Before Yallingup, though, we had to pop into Eagle Bay Olives, who have just opened for the new season:

Wildflowers at Eagle Bay Olives

The inside is even nicer than the outside, since you get to try at least six kinds of olives and all sorts of jams. Remember Benedict the mouse?

Benedict Mousie

He came from Eagle Bay. Now we have these goodies as well:

Yums from Eagle Bay Olives

That seems to be the standard spelling for kumquat here. I recommend the shiraz jelly with black pepper. Surprising, but not outrageous. (Such phrases aren't just for douchey wine drinkers anymore.)

From Eagle Bay it's a short drive back and down and to the right, and right after we got done being amazed at how close we've been to Yallingup proper so many times, we saw this:

Yallingup Gugelhupf

"I don't know what a Gugelhupf is, but I know I want one."

Inside the welcoming paint job of a building was a dusky, earthy, open area with more jams and jars (welcome to the South West of Oz) and a pleasant woman behind a table of generous samples. Behind her were what looked like painted bundt pans, used to keep the Gugelhupf and its fresh yeast at its best as the day goes on.

Alas, neither sweet Gugelhupf (chocolate or sultana) nor savoury Gugelhupf (something with bacon that Mike tried) spoke to us, but we bought a bag of small almond shortbreads anyway, just as a hoorah to what is a very charming enterprise, one that every foodie in Perth ought to have a gushing story about. Whenever I'm gainfully employed, I'm going to have one of those painted pans. (A few show up in the slideshow on this info page.) I mean, after I buy bookshelves and more board games and a house, in that order.

(Oh, Wikipedia has schooled me: Gugelhupf is a Bundt cake. I apologize to all Germans as well as my German forebears for spending all of these years enjoying Merely Bundt-Shaped Cakes That Are Not Actually Bundt Cakes.)

We left our car in the lot shared by the bakery and a general store/cafe. Where was the trail?

We peered at the map printed from the caravan park website (here). (Printed because Optus reception can be spotty, and PDF maps on phones can be squinty.) Shouldn't it be right there? The caravan park was right across the stree, but we saw no markers.

Squinting happened anyway. "Is that a marker across the street?" "Let's cross."

Sure enough, there was a stick with a footprint on a blue triangle, signaling that we were on the Torpedo Trail. (Other colors for other area trails, but we were interested in the three-kilometre "easy" loop. Loops are good. If the Bibbulman Track - Western Australia's answer to the Appalachian Trail - were a loop, I'd probably do it. Not. But maybe.)

We walked about twenty steps, stepped off the pavement, and stood on the edge of the playground for the caravan park.

"Now what?"

"We can't go back the other way - it's just the street."

"I don't see any trail markers anywhere."

"Well, let's just walk."

I'm pretty sure that last line is dialogue straight from The Blair Witch Project. Luckily, skirting wild freesias and unbooked camp slabs makes for a fine variation to the start of this walk. (Spoiler alert: it's actually a variation on a variation, as we discovered later.)

We found a dirt road behind the campground and decided it wouldn't hurt to walk along it. The carpets of freesias continued to amaze.

Blurry Freesias Everywhere

And the lilies didn't disappoint, either.

Blown-Out Lilies Galore

(I was carrying my increasingly decrepit phone as my camera, on which I place the blame for overexposed lilies and blurry freesias. I also blame the light, the wind, the trees, my eyes and hands, and my legs, for being more interested in walking than in thinking about managing tricky shots, so I guess my brain is in the photo crimes paddywagon as well.)

I'm not used to living among such fancy wildflowers. (Or, back in Vegas, any flowers near our xeriscaped apartment complex.) I wonder what people would make of Texas bluebonnets here? How funny that the lilies are a non-native import - a "declared pest" even - that has spread thanks to a small population in a large land. I'd (selfishly) be sorry to see them go now.

We came to a T-juncture. Which way to go? Oh... that way leads to the start of the trail. Oops! (So, yes, the trail begins on the sidewalk-less street in front of the caravan park... except it also doesn't. More on that at the end.)

Oh, THAT Was The Path

Next time.

A wildflower noticed on most of our walks recently has been the orchid. Every time I've seen one, I've been so excited. I mean, The Orchid Thief, right? Aussies are sitting on fortunes!

Wild Orchid

Once again, Google has humbled me to the truth. With 26,000+ species of orchids, obviously some will be more rare than others, and many are not rare at all. Ahem.

(I'm glad the one shown above doesn't have a spider-face. Those are a little disturbing.)

Something in the air changed, and the forest began to clear. Through the trees, we saw the odd car vroom past. A few dirt paths appeared, as did a sign. Our eyes, though, were on what lay beyond it.

"Did you know this trail went past the OCEAN?!"

On the Torpedo Trail in Yallingup

(In our defense, the map's scale is not clear.)

The vegetation became more hardy, but we were still treated to lovely flowers along the narrowed path.

Coastal Flowers

Somewhere to our right was a car park; we made way for a small group of seniors heading towards it, one yoked with a geared-up Canon around his neck.

Mike on Torpedo Trail (Coastal Part)

I had no pangs of regret about only packing an iPhone 4 (just a plain 4); better to be unencumbered and content with the odd snap. "Here's Mike in the fresh sea breeze, happy to be on what was already an interesting enough trail as-is," and all that.

But as we walked...

Torpedo Rocks

I must admit...

Mike at Lookout

Looking Down from Lookout

a few pangs surfaced...

Looking Towards Canal Rocks

after all.

That's Torpedo Rock in the foreground, and Canal Rocks in the distance.

Time-traveling me from February, standing on the bridge at Canal Rocks, could turn a bit to the right when taking this photo and wave to me on the Torpedo Trail seven months later:

Canal Rocks

And once more with Mike, Torpedo Rock, and Canal Rocks, and one of the (barely visible even if you enlarge the picture) rocks that's part of the Three Bears formation (Mike says):

Mike, Yallingup, Indian Ocean, Torpedo Trail

If you look just to the right of Mike's chin, you can almost make out a resort at Smith's Beach. Strange how all these things seem to be so close together, but when you're at any one of them, they feel like their own little world.

Looking Towards Sugar Loaf Rock

That said, we were soon at the second car park, and a large handful of people were about.

Trail and Park Signs Near Yallingup Beach

QR Codes on Yallingup Beach Sign

This - providing tourist information in many languages on one sign - is probably the most useful use of QR codes that I've ever seen. (Maybe everyone else has better QR apps than I do, ones that don't take so long that I'd rather have just been given a URL.)

Yes, folks were fishing and milling, but definitely not swimming:

Shark Advisory at Yallingup Beach (Dated 5 September 2014)

The sign was from just two days before.

Now we were suddenly in civilization again. "I'm so glad we came this way. I would've been less impressed to have walked down populated streets to the beach."

Blue Whale, Playground, Yallingup

Mike isn't convinced that this is a whale. Of course it's a whale. What else could it be? It's a whale. I'm not even going to ask Google.

(I asked Google. Google didn't know. Now Google knows! Keyword whale, I say!)

Surfer Statue, Yallingup

Yallingup means "place of love" in the language of the Aboriginal people who lived here before the European settlers came. Sounds exactly like the sort of trivia that would bring a surfer to town.

Shaana Café

And the Shaana Cafe looks like it's meant to feed that surfing population. Alas, it closes for the winter, and props to the proprietor for knowing that - no matter what Aussies like to claim in the interest of efficiency - spring does NOT start on September the First.

Just when we thought we'd be looking at driveways all the way back to our car, the road turned left, and our path stayed straight, moving into the trees. Another change!

A change that came with worse-than-usual photos that didn't make it to Flickr. Picture a deep, woody ravine to the right, and a near-vertical wall of wildflowers to the left, at the top of which were tree lines marking people's back yards. A tiny wooden bridge turned on the charm, and the English cottage-y delights only increased when the rain started to speckle down.

This is the "Ghost Trail," another topic on which Google is quite ignorant. Why is it called that? Many ask; no one (with the will to type in a public forum) knows.

Soon we came to a field, and a trail sign pointing left into said field. The pavement continued forward.

"Oh no, we won't fall for it this time."

Just beyond the sign was a short flight of steps up and a piece of paper pointing left, again, this time identifying Caves Hotel.

"Hmm, do we turn left into the field, or does the trail sign mean to go forward a few steps then to the left?"

The map was useless. We looked across the field.

Standing on Ghost Trail in Yallingup, About to Cross the Field

Taking chances was fine at the start of the trail, but we didn't want to accidentally wander onto the five-kilometer loop trail that was currently sharing this leg with the Ghost and Torpedo trails. (I'm leaving out the half-dozen times when we had to follow our guts because signage was absent or unclear. The area from where you hit Yallingup Beach until you're on the Ghost Trail is the worst about this. Just stick to the road.)

"I think I see a marker in the distance," Mike said. We set out across the field (me stopping to pick up petals from the tree) until we saw the blue triangle. Yay! Carry on!

At the end of the field was another field (it makes sense in my memories), and to the left was a sign beside a bridge pointing to the 5 km trail and the Cave trail. Another day.

To the right, the last leg of the Torpedo Trail:

The Last Stretch of Torpedo Trail (Is Actually the First Stretch - Oops)

Another change of scenery! This trail just keeps on giving! Even if it does look a mite... uphill.

More wildflowers and many frolicksome birds later, I paused for breath by a post marking the water main.

The Photo Taken While Unceremoniously Catching My Breath After The Sudden Uphill Stretch

We encountered a few (unnecessary) trail markers, and noted that they all faced the other way. Oh.

"It's probably a lot easier to start with this downhill bit and end with the gradually slope..." Yep.

Moments later, the distinctive blue and pink stripes of Yallingup Gugelhupf were visible through the trees on our right. There's our car!

We were tempted to short-cut (as I was still huffing without dignity), but I wanted to see where the trail ended (or began).

Answer: right behind Yallingup Gugelhupf.

Still, I was glad we'd come the other way. It's not everyday you can be surprised by an unexpected ocean.

In the past few weeks, we've explored several local trails suitable for unfit, casual meanderers like ourselves who'd rather stand still and point at birds than worry about keeping our heart rates up. This one has been the tops so far, with its variety of views, reasonable distance (an hourish), and no shortage of flowers and flying critters.

Hey now, a post, and it's not even a list-y end-of-month round-up. Given my usual habits, though, this may be my last post as a forty-four year old. I feel like I ought to say something profound, just in case.

Instead, I just want to share this photo of a hang-glider I took from the car as we whizzed home from yesterday's walk. (Maiden's Reserve, a moderate walk, go us!) Hang-glider, I ask... or man-fairy?

Hang Glider or Man-Fairy?

11 September 2014 |

Previously: How Golden Is My Owl?

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