The last time we hiked Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island, it was 2017. The flies almost drove us to insanity under a hot January sun as we made our way through the stunning coastal walk. We were free spirits, with minimal responsibility, a thirst for adventure, and a lot of words to say about flies that probably weren’t suitable for children.
Turns out a lot of things have changed since then, but sadly one thing that didn’t change were the flies.
Before Oscar was born we had big dreams of being the kind of people who would just take our baby everywhere because he would be so easy-going and so exceptionally portable. And, in his defence, he definitely was… for about three weeks. Then he developed a personality and a lot of very strong opinions, and our dreams of being hiking and adventuring parents just kind of fell by the wayside.
Well, we figured it was high time those dreams were revived. We’ve come a long way as parents in the last nine months, and we were more confident now that we could manage to not only get out and have adventures, showing the world off to this new person we had created, but actually have a bit of fun doing it. We thought it a safe bet to start with some of the hikes we’d done in the past, ones where we knew what was in store for us, and could therefore prepare.
Considering the flies, we opted to trek Cape Woolamai in the last week in November, far enough into the summer that walking in the ocean on the final stretch would be manageable, but not so far that the flies would be out in force… or so we thought. Turns out even in November there are lots and lots and lots of flies at Cape Woolamai, but boy is it still worth it!
The Cape Woolamai Hike
Easing back into hiking life after a fairly long period away, the Cape Woolamai hike was a safe bet for us. Around 8.5km in length, the Cape Woolamai trail starts at the Surf Beach and rounds the cape, taking in all the best there is to see there. Stunning coastal bluffs, the Pinnacles rock formation and gorgeous views from the Cape Woolamai Beacon are the first half of the walk, while the second covers the Old Granite Quarry, ending with a long and leisurely beach wander along the sand to come back to where you started.
You need a low tide on your side to traverse the last section of the trail (the beach walk), which does require a bit of forward planning to time your walk accordingly. Some of the other hikers we saw did the last portion in shoes, but we went barefoot just to feel the sand between our toes. The water was a bit cold for a proper swim, but just cold enough to really annoy a baby who needed a little bottom wash in the sea. In the height of summer I imagine it would be amazing to swim there properly, but that feeling would probably be tempered by the swarms of flies (and also biting March Flies) that plagued us the last time we visited.
This time the flies were definitely thick in the air, but not quite as bad as last time. We improvised fly swats out of Oscar’s spare clothes, and managed quite admirably, but I think it will take a bit of convincing before I’m ready to do it again, even if the walk was beautiful. To those wanting to attempt it, I would highly recommend a cork hat or face netting in the summer season!
Still, I’m glad we took a chance to get back on the trailhead again. It was great to test out a longer hike with Oscar in the carrier, and (with the exception of his short, angry dip in the sea) he really enjoyed himself as well. I see a lot more hiking in our future!