Alan Pitman and Denise Hilsz, WA
At the completion of the Three Capes Track this quotation from the Track guide book captured the four-day experience. “This is a world-class and innovative track which connects breathtaking coastal scenery with the nature and spirit of the land.”
The walk takes four days and covers 45 kilometres. For seasoned Bibbulmun Track walkers it is an easy walk on well-designed tracks and provides high quality hut accommodation. The walk is open to all ages and has been designed to cater for a range of fitness levels. As with many Tasmanian walks there is a fee to be paid and a limit on the number of walkers for each day. All the details are set out on the excellent website that provides information, updates and links to relevant resources.
We take off from Port Arthur on an exciting boat cruise out to Arthurs Peak and the arc of Crescent Bay. The ride gives a waterside view of the forthcoming walk and a glimpse to Tasman Island and Cape Pillar. Along the way our boat is surrounded by a pod of about 50 dolphins that encourage us on our way before zooming off to feed on a large school of salmon. An hour later we disembark at Denham’s Cove in the Tasman National Park at the start of the trail. We are greeted by a cheeky echidna scratching beside the entry sculpture—the first of many encounters with local wildlife.
Our walk climbs due south through coastal heath and eucalypt woodlands. Along the way, we stop to take in the views and begin many encounters with interpretive artistic representations of the history, nature and spirit of this special place. There are 36 encounters and each is detailed in the track book and enrich the experience. Dear Eliza depicts fragments of convict correspondence and journal entries. Punishment to Playground describes how a place of severe punishment was turned into a place of tranquillity and pleasure.
A two-hour walk brings us to our accommodation at Surveyors Cabin. Designed to complement the environment these expansive timber and corrugated iron constructions are stunning! They provide shared cabins for up to 48 people with kitchen facilities, relaxation areas and quality drop toilets—we even had mattresses on the bunk beds.
Tonight, and every night following, the Hut Guide gives us a briefing on the campsite, weather conditions, places of interest and general information. A wide range of people and ages make up the group of 48 walking with us.
The next day sees us moving through eucalypt forests and across open moorlands. After a climb to Arthurs Peak we look over Crescent Bay and Mount Brown to the towering spires of Cape Pillar. Along the way we share many encounters with plenty of information in our track book. Where the 'ell are we? links us back to excerpts from the Tasmanian Tramp, a journal of the Hobart Walking Club; a wonderful insight into the walking pioneers of this Track.
We wander along the cliff tops with many surprises and insights along the way. Wallabies and wombats give us shy glances as they meander along and yellow tailed cockatoos shriek in surprise at our arrival. Two majestic sea eagles hang glide over the cliffs, catching the breeze as they survey their territory.
After a four-hour walk we arrive at Munro Camp, set 242 metres above the sea on the cliffs of Munro Bight. Again, we are impressed by the design and comfort of the buildings and facilities and the viewing deck which juts out over the cliff wall. Our lullaby tonight is provided by the Tasman Sea and the call of the southern boobook owl.
This is a day of dizzying heights as we head off on an out-and-back walk to Cape Pillar, skirting The Blade. We have left our packs at Munro so the cliff edges are easy to navigate, even for a person who is afraid of heights. The encounters along the way include The Lightkeepers Daughter which tells of the hardships endured by the Tasman Island Lightkeeper’s family. The fascinating history and anecdotes included in the track book add another dimension to this walk.
Today includes a stop at the Seal Spa! Yes, indeed—the Tasman Island Day Spa, Australia’s most southerly spa where you will find mudstone baths, multiple plunge pools and discrete pools for couples. The hilarious advertisement in the track book almost had me fooled into making a booking! I must say it was a great view to enjoy during the return walk. We drag ourselves away from the amazing views and make our way back to Munro, collect our packs and head off to walk to Retakunna Camp for our final night. Here we settle in and wait for the nocturnal creatures to put on the evening show.
On the final day of this magic walk we cover a variety of terrain including mountains, rainforests, coastal cliffs, heathlands, a stunning cape and a perfect sandy beach at the end.
Walking over Mt Fortescue has been made easy with the construction of a contoured climb and along the way there are plenty of encounters to give you the perfect excuse to stop for a while. Once Upon a Time takes us into a mossy, damp forest where you almost expect to see hobbits and dragons. Pillars of the South provides notes detailing the history of the giant pillars of ancient stones along the track.
Leaving our packs at the junction we make our way to Cape Huay, where the well-constructed tracks and steps are appreciated as this is a fairly steep and challenging section of the walk. The view all the way is breathtaking and the lookout point which hangs out over the crashing waters is a highlight. Don’t miss doing this extra trail—many of the walkers in our group didn’t bother and they missed something quite special.
The final part of the walk takes us downhill to Fortescue Bay through coastal heathland with views down to a peaceful bay. At Fortescue, we had time for a dip in the pristine waters and some much-appreciated coffee and snacks at the kiosk, where we sat back and recalled the many elements of the Three Capes Track before catching our shuttle bus back to Port Arthur.
We have completed a number of Tasmanian Tracks including the Overland and Bay of Fires. All the walks have rewarded us with unique and exciting experiences and the Three Capes Track joins that group. The many people who make these walks in Tasmania possible are to be congratulated for their determination, creativity and commitment to the environment.
- Avoid school holidays.
- Be prepared for all types of weather, after all this is Tasmania.
- Take your time each day to stop and read, observe and enjoy the vistas and encounters.
- The kitchen facilities include stainless steel everything, Smeg stove tops, cooking equipment and everything you need to cook up a storm.
- Find out more at www.threecapestrack.com.au