Cape Nelson outside Portland is a major landmark for shipping. Many shipwrecks are believed to have met their fate in the waters surrounding it. Conditions can get stormy. Cape Nelson Lighthouse, built in 1884, is the major feature of the cape.
Today, the Great South West Walk follows the tall sea cliffs around Cape Nelson State Park. Additional trails crisscross the state park. This circuit, Good Mrs and my second hike for the day, contains both hiking along the cliffs and through its middle (our earlier hike in Mount Richmond National Park here)
My reference book suggested parking in a picnic area off Scenic Road some distance north from the lighthouse. Limited scenery offered around there. In fact, the road turnoff was unsigned and Good Mrs and I were unsure whether we were right. It was the right place.
Nobody else around, no other car, just ours in the parking area being shadowed by a large wind turbine.
The initial (unnamed) trail took us east towards the coastline, through some overgrown and little-used paths. No feeling yet of being close to sea cliffs and dramatic ocean views. So it was for the first almost a kilometer or so.
We crossed something called Devils Kitchen Road. Not clear whether the road was still in use, a maintenance track nowadays perhaps. More visible wind turbines… I bet it gets stormy here sometimes.
Next, we are hiking south by following the Great South West Walk, ever present around Portland.
Different coloured markers showed us the way(s). What showed what, we never figured out. However, difficult to get lost here. The coastline forms a natural border so if you follow that…
Dramatic views soon appeared. Below looks north back towards Portland in the far distance.
And south towards… well, more ocean.
Closer to Cape Nelson Lighthouse, it appeared that the surrounding area had once been enclosed. No fences anymore, just poles and some “portal” in which I’m standing. Everybody’s invited!
Approaching Cape Nelson Lighthouse, it was time for a selfie along with the tower.
You can explore inside Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Tours appeared to be available twice a day during this holiday season.
There is also a cafe in one of several nearby buildings. We didn’t do any of that as we brought our own lunches. Behind the lighthouse, a large step provided sitting space and some relief from the wind. Perfect!
Great South West Walk continues west beyond the lighthouse from where people are arriving below. You can extend this circuit that way for another couple of kilometers. Later, an eastward trail away from the ocean returns you to the parking area.
Another view from around Cape Nelson Lighthouse.
OK, I thought that this view looked pretty cool so I included it in the blog… not much to do with the hike really…
Our return trail, the Lighthouse Track was somewhat inaccessible on occasion. Plenty of dead trees and other vegetation lie across the trail. An obstacle course… We persevered…
Many trails including the Lighthouse Track sought to prevent others than hikers from entering. The access through these gates is pretty darn narrow, particularly when carrying a sizable backpack. Good Mrs demonstrates…
No sign of human activity around the parking area when we returned to from where we started. Looked exactly the same as when we left.
You may as well park next to Cape Nelson Lighthouse rather than here. Plenty of parking provided there. And with a cafe for that post hiking cuppa… Here, off Scenic Road, there is nothing apart from toilets. And presumably, a picnic area which we didn’t actually see.
The Cape Nelson State Park circuit is another lovely and seemingly underused hiking trail. Some great views along the way. However, I would stay away from the area around the lighthouse in windy weather as those cliff tops are very exposed.
And again, away from Cape Nelson Lighthouse immediate surroundings, nobody else around…