Trewalla Camp to Cape Nelson lighthouse

The whole family took advantage of the Ballarat Show Day public holiday and spent the long weekend at Cape Bridgewater. We’d been there a few times before. And the last time, two of us walked a section of the Great South West Walk around the Cape Bridgewater.  

This time the two of us planned on walking the section from Trawalla Camp to the lighthouse on Cape Neilson. This was a 15km walk along beach, over dunes, through soap Mallee Scrub and finally along cliffs to the lighthouse. 

We were dropped off along Bridgewater Road and, after a brief false start along what looked like the track, walked along a rarely used vehicle track to Trawalla Camp.  Long grass through scrubby bush made for a pretty uninteresting start to the day. 

At Trawalla Camp we checked out the information board and were excited to find a reference to the Popplebonk Frog that the youngest member of our family learnt about at school. 

img_7196There was also some great information about flora and fauna in the region and an overview of the whole Great South West Walk. 

The walk improved as soon as we left the campsite. It was now an easy walking track through the foreshore bush – we were on the Great South West Walk. According to the information board, the trees on either side of the track were Soap Mallee. These trees have a large root system and lots of ‘trees’ grow from the same root. 

img_7203After a short walk through the foreshore scrub we headed down the dunes to the beach. Immediately before reaching the beach it was maybe 5 or 6 meters down a steep dune.  It was the first time we could see both Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson. 

Each way we looked, it was an awesome view along the beach. 

img_7208After reaching  the beach we got our first real taste of the wind. Luckily for us it wasn’t so strong that it blew sand at us, but we had to keep a tight grip on our hats.  We walked along the beach toward Cape Nelson just near the water’s edge. But as the tide was coming in, we were mostly walking in soft sand. 

IMG_7224.jpgWe took a break at a large outcropping of rocks. We were able to get out of the wind and enjoy some peanut m&m’s and dried fruit.  Just behind the rocks were four shipping containers that had been washed ashore. It must have been a huge storm to dump them so close to the dunes. 

img_7215After more beautiful beach walking it was up and info the dunes again. It was a pretty steep walk up the dunes. We even had to stop a couple of times to catch our breath. But being able to turn around and face the beach made the short breaks worth it. It was a great view. 

img_7246Once up on the dunes it was really easy walking through more Soap Mallee. The track was smooth and we occasionally broke through the scrub to get a view of the cliffs that we’d walked along. 

Walking along the cliffs was terrific. The younger member of the party was getting tired and had a sore ankle.   But it didn’t stop him pointing out the rocks below the cliffs where he’d like to build a house.

img_7247As we were getting closer to the lighthouse on Cape Nelson, we got some great views over the cliffs and back along the beach to where we started. My offsider got a sense of achievement that he hadn’t had on other walks we had done. Being able to look back 15km and see how far we had walked was a good moment for him. 

Just a few hundred meters from our final goal, the Cape Nelson lighthouse, a bloke on a mountain bike road past us. We’d been walking over and around rocks for the last 15 minutes and were surprised that he was able to ride along the track.

It was great to reach the lighthouse. A real feeling of pride, and relief,  for my offsider. 


We arrived at the cafe next to the lighthouse just they were closing due to few customers that afternoon.  It was really kind that they let us in to get iced coffee, a milkshake and cake. 

If you are lucky enough to walk this great bit of coast make sure you stop for a piece of hummingbird came at the cafe. You won’t be disappointed. We loved this walk and can’t wait to do more of the Great South West Walk. We gave this section  9/10.

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