Now this was possibly my favourite thing I’ve done in WA so far. For the middle of Winter, the weather in Albany had been seriously turning it on. I’d been away for the weekend in Peaceful Bay and was meant to head home after that but instead I returned to my family’s house in Albany to lap it up and make the most of it. I’d read about the Bald Head hike online when I was searching for the best things to do around Albany and it sounded like a good challenge. All the reviews sounded amazing and heaps of people had said it was the best hike they’d done in the area. I can 100% confirm. It was amazing!
I’ve heard conflicting details about the length of the walk but the sign at the beginning said 16km return so I’m going with that! It offered an estimate of 6 hours to complete the hike but it took me five and I had about an hour break at the end, plus kept stopping for photo ops. I would say it would take the average person roughly four hours. I brought with me my drone, a snack, and a litre of water. Definitely take at least two! Rookie error on my behalf. I ran out just as I started my return trip and would have loved some more. The sign also highlighted, to my terror, that tiger snakes are highly common in the area. I had come prepared with thick socks and long leggings but I have to say, I panicked every time something rustled in the bushes as I walked by. And that happened a lot! I made sure to stomp my feet loudly where I thought they’d be (mainly the spots exposed to the sun) and I got through the day without seeing one. Thank goodness! This little guy gave me the biggest fright through when he started moving next to me.
I was absolutely blessed with the weather on this winters day with 22 degrees and a slight breeze. I’ve heard it can be quite dangerous if it’s too windy. I was a tad nervous to complete the walk on my own, but I’d seen one other car in the carpark so I knew someone else was out there which made me feel a bit better. It was 9:30am by the time I entered the trail. I would suggest heading out a bit earlier if you can, just so you can be back in time for lunch and beat the main heat of the day. The track began with an old wooden walkway that got progressively steeper. By the time the recycled plastic trail began, I felt like I was walking vertically. It was a serious killer to start the walk but the view of Salmon Holes Beach when you emerge out onto the boulder makes it so worth it.
Heading up a bit further, you reach my favourite part of the hike. The dirt track heads across the ridge line of the Flinders Peninsula with the crashing Southern Ocean to your right and the calm King George Sound (basically an inlet or bay) to your left. These views were seriously breathtaking. Possibly my favourite part of any walk I’ve ever done!
The middle section of the hike has a few ups and downs but nothing that comes even close to the intense uphill at the beginning. The views just continue to amaze. The trail is pretty easy to follow the whole way. When you’re on the rocky outcroppings (my favourite type of track), piles of rocks or wooden posts mark the way. A few times I headed off track to take photos and then went down the wrong path. They either led to no where, or became so overgrown it was clearly the wrong one. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!
When you reach the downhill sandy track, you know you’re almost there. This downhill is pretty epic. I could clearly see the end and I considered not even walking down. But my determination and need to finish things got the better of me so down I went. This is by far the hardest part of the hike and all I could think going down was “how the hell am I going to get back up this?”
As I walked over the final little hill to reach the huge pile of rocks at the end of Bald Head, I noticed a yacht about a km in front of me. Then I spotted the whales. A mum and her calf were surfacing right next to the yacht. This made that end-of-the-hike feeling so much sweeter. I quickly grabbed out the drone to video them but they disappeared so quickly beneath the water and by the time they resurfaced, my battery had run out.
After a snack and a chat to some other hikers who had caught up to me, I began the journey back. I don’t know whether it was the fact that they had kept talking about lunch, or just because I felt like I deserved a treat, but I thought through my ideal food reward pretty much the whole way back. This ended up being a frozen coke and Hungry Jacks chips. So good! And so much better when you feel like you deserve it! The sand hill on the way back up was pretty intense but I certainly felt accomplished when I reached the top. I think I enjoyed this hike so much for three reasons.
1. The views (this one is the most important by far!)
2. The huge variety of trails (dirt, sand, wood, plastic and rock)
3. The short stints of serious difficulty mixed in with easy, flat sections
This was my first solo hike and I couldn’t be prouder of myself for completing the whole thing. The mental game was the toughest for me in relation to freaking out about snakes and wanting more water but it was a great confidence booster when I completed it. That feeling when you see your car at the end of a long walk has got to be one of the best. You get so much energy and excitement out of no where and it’s hard to keep the smile off your face. So much fun!