Born as an idea in the early 1970s, the Cape to Cape Track was officially opened in 2001. Explorers of the region used the area originally for short walks. As more wineries and restaurants began to pop up in the area, they began incorporating meals into the short treks. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Jane Scott, now president of the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track, and Neil Taylor, Leeuwin-Naturaliste NP’s recreation planner, came together with the idea of a long-distance track. Together they created a walk along the sandy beaches, already built short tracks, and small paths used by fisherman, farmers, and surfers.
In the late 1990s, the national park began the construction of the Cape to Cape track, but sadly it ran out of money before completion. It was then that Friends of the Cape to Cape track was formed to try and receive the funding that the national park could not. Without the Friends, this track would have never been completed.
The Friends has grown to an impressive 400 members since its creation, and it is their annual subscription fee that keeps the track well-maintained. On top of that, members of the Friends and the community can “adopt” part of the track. Once a quarter or once a year, the “adoptee” will prune, gather rubbish, clean-up signs, and do other important maintenance along their section of the track. Over 30 members of the Friends have already adopted a section along with organisations like The Margaret River Surfrider Foundation.
This strong community keeps this track alive. In the past fifteen years, the park has increased its visitors from 900,000 annually to 2.3 million, making it one of the most popular parks in WA. As the year’s pass, the park and its fantastic community will grow and flourish together.
Margaret River Background
Margaret River has a rich background that has led this small town on an incredible journey. This area was originally known as Wooditchup to the Noongar people. Early signs of this Australian Aboriginal tribe can be found at Devil’s Lair Cave where many artefacts were discovered. It is believed that this tribe resided in Margaret River for about 48,000 years; even with European settlement, the Noongar people continue to stay connected to this region.
In the 1620s, the Dutch vessel “Leeuwin” first discovered the area, but it wasn’t until the 1830s that European settlers came to Cape Leeuwin. The next 100 years led Margaret River through a timber industry, with many Noongar people helping the settlers. Finally, in 1912, the town of Margaret River began construction with three tiny houses. The population of Margaret River began to grow rapidly with the expansion of the town and an extensive tree planting endeavour to replace what had been lost.
Another 100 years later, Margaret River has transformed into a popular tourist destination, world-renowned for its surfing hotspots and incredible wineries.