Thursday, March 25, 2021
Meet the maker: Gene Hardy of Cape to Cape Explorer Tours
We humans are meant to wander, to discover, to experience nature at its most raw. And when you’re in the thick of it, it’s like being in another world: listening to birdsong, marvelling at the vibrancy of the changing foliage, watching waves thunder on the shore nearby, and feeling a burst of joy as you round a bend and stumble across unexpected caves and cliffs. As modern life fades away, the hum of traffic is replaced with rhythmic thuds as your footsteps hit the earth, manoeuvring over sand and stone on yet another extraordinarily beautiful path.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be in this environment every day? And, what’s more, to be in a position to introduce others to a corner of the world you hold so dear? This is the reality for Cape to Cape Explorer Tours Managing Director Gene Hardy, who has found himself in what is arguably one of the region’s greatest jobs.
“I grew up in Margaret River. We always got out into nature and I loved national parks,” he said. “That led me down a path of doing eco-tourism with the Department of Parks and Wildlife where I’d take people on walks, go star watching, and help them understand and value nature.”
This passion for his beloved South West eventually became Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. While there are a mindboggling number of locations in the Margaret River region that all deserve attention and adoration, Gene said the Cape to Cape was the perfect vehicle to really see and do it all. This epic 123km walking trail stretches down the extreme south western edge of Western Australia from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. It’s a dizzying array of jaw-dropping sights, from cliffs to wildflower fields to charming bays.
“With the Margaret River region, we’ve got this awesome amazing canvas. The hike and the Cape to Cape is really just a medium for it all,” he said. “It’s about exploring familiar places with new eyes, and for some it can literally be a life changing experience.”
Gene has so many favourite locations, he can’t nominate just one, but this is what makes the Cape so incredible – and precisely why it never gets boring.
“There might be a strong nor-wester day at Cosy Corner, and it’s just glorious and beautiful. Or when there’s a southerly at Injidup and everything is ‘just right’. For me? I like being out there when there’s a storm,” he said.
What to expect on a Cape to Cape tour
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours has a range of eco-conscious walks and hikes, plus all sorts of goodies on the side that round out the incredible experience. Choose from single day bushwalks, multi-day self-guided and guided trail adventures, and even eight full days and nights of glamping.
If you think a single day adventure might suit, dive into these. There’s the Wine Tour with a three-course lunch at Vasse Felix, a stunning hike through the Margaret River area, and ending with gourmet nibbles and boutique wine and beer in a secluded spot along the coast. We also love the Sunset, Forest and Cave Explorer tour, which starts at 5pm (yes, 5pm). Take in a famous WA sunset from the cliffs, walk through the dusk-shrouded karri forest, and explore a cave at night-time – an opportunity few will ever get. Keep a look out for wild kangaroos while you’re there.
His team’s number one concern is creating the best experience possible that represents amazing value. Gene said this is what sets them apart from the competition.
“If you’re looking for something really cheap, you won’t come to us. Our tours are for people who like nice things and appreciate quality. We’ve got great food, we’re really passionate about guiding, and about sharing stories,” he said. “If we’re doing our job the best we can, then people don’t have to worry about the logistics and instead can concentrate on enjoying the track and not being stressed.”
Although hiking is often challenging, Gene says it evokes something within. There’s a certain enchantment when you’re out there, and the day-to-day concerns we tend to get wrapped up in in ‘real life’ melt away. This is the perfect chance to get back into nature and reconnect with yourself.
When to go: Cape to Cape tours through the seasons
Gene says people are gradually moving away from the typical hiking period of spring, and he couldn’t be happier about it. He’s passionate about every season and believes each offer something unique.
“It’s really still. Everything is going green again and the ocean is alive with migrating fish. Also, the water is the warmest of the year because the Leeuwin Current flows down the coast.”
“This is special. It’s quiet, it’s cool, and it’s really green with water everywhere. You’ll come home, get the fire on, and share stories of the storm.”
“There are a lot of wildflowers blooming and you’ve also got the whales migrating, which is really cool! There’s still a lot of water around and it’s so pretty. Early spring is better for wildflowers, but late spring is better for swimming.”
“All the flowers may bloom in spring but they fruit in summer. The region is busy with people and there’s a thriving atmosphere.”
Experience a different side to the Margaret River region with a hike on the spectacular Cape to Cape with a knowledgeable tour guide. Discover Cape to Cape Explorer Tours on Facebook and Instagram. Afterwards, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, put your feet up, and relax at one of our luxury holiday homes.
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