Three Capes Track Tasmania: A Trek to Remember for Life

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The Three Capes Track has already been hailed as Australia’s premier coastal bushwalking experience. Over four days and three night you will cross chasms, tall forest and tip-toe to the edge of Australia’s highest sea cliff. At days end, you can rest in warm comfortable cabins.

The Three Capes Track in Tasmania is an engaging four-day trek that stretches over 48 kilometers of coastal landscapes. This guide provides a broad overview, highlighting key aspects like access, track highlights, camping facilities, booking procedures, weather, and equipment.

Tasman National Park:

The entire Three Capes Track is encompassed within the boundaries of Tasman National Park. The park is known for its stunning coastal landscapes, rich biodiversity, and remarkable geological formations. As you traverse the track, you will not only experience the beauty of the capes but also get to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna that make the park their home. The park also boasts a variety of other walks and attractions that you might consider exploring before or after your trek.

Accessing the Track:

Situated on the Tasman Peninsula, the Three Capes Track can be reached from Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city. You can drive yourself to Port Arthur, the starting point of the track or there are shuttle bus services available to a from Hobart. A weather-dependent boat ride from Port Arthur to Denmans Cove marks the beginning of the trek. Alternative arrangements are made under severe weather conditions.

Track Highlights:

The Three Capes Track offers an array of unforgettable sights:.

The Three Capes: The main stars of the trek, Cape Pillar, Cape Hauy, and Cape Raoul, are geological wonders that jut out into the Southern Ocean. Each cape is unique and provides its own spectacular perspective. Cape Pillar, the longest sea cliff in the Southern Hemisphere, presents mesmerizing views of the vast ocean, whereas Cape Hauy offers glimpses of dolerite columns known as the Candlestick and Totem Pole. Lastly, Cape Raoul provides a broader vista, allowing walkers to absorb the enormity of the Tasman wilderness and the distant World Heritage Area.

Three-Capes-Track-The-Candlestick,-Cape-Hauy-Tasmania-Parks-and-Wildlife-Service
Three Capes Track-The Candlestick Cape Hauy Credit Tasmania Parks and Wildlife-Service

Wildlife: Wildlife viewing is an integral part of the experience. Aquatic life such as seals, dolphins, and even migrating whales can be seen frolicking in the ocean below the cliffs. The skies overhead are not to be neglected as they are often dotted with diverse seabirds, including the majestic white-bellied sea eagles. Closer to the ground, you might spot wombats, wallabies, and an array of small marsupials.

Dolomite Columns at The Blade: The Blade at Cape Pillar is a narrow and dramatic land formation flanked by sheer cliffs and surrounded by ocean. It’s the platform for a stunning array of dolomite columns that rise out of the sea. The dolerite cliffs form an almost otherworldly landscape, with sharp columns reaching for the sky. It’s an inspiring spectacle of nature’s architecture.

Seal Colony: At the base of the Blade on Cape Pillar, a bustling seal colony can be observed. The sight of these marine mammals frolicking in the ocean or basking on the rocks provides an added layer of life to the stunning backdrop. This thriving colony is a testament to the ecological richness of the region.

Arthur’s Peak: Arthur’s Peak is a splendid vantage point providing expansive inland views of the peninsula. On clear days, Federation Peak, Tasmania’s tallest mountain, can be seen in the distance. It’s an uplifting experience to stand atop Arthur’s Peak, absorbing the serene beauty of Tasmania’s wilderness.

Remarkable Cave: Not on the main track but well worth the detour, Remarkable Cave is a sea tunnel eroded into the cliff face, creating an unusual and beautiful natural formation. When viewed from the right angle, the opening has an uncanny resemblance to the shape of Tasmania. The cave, coupled with the nearby Maingon Bay lookout, makes for an interesting start or end to your trek on the Three Capes Track.

Camping Facilities

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service offers a unique blend of wilderness immersion and modern comforts with cabin accommodations along the route of the Three Capes Track. The track features three public huts – Surveyors, Munro, and Retakunna, each thoughtfully placed to break up your journey into manageable sections and each with its own distinct charm.

  1. Surveyors Hut: Located amidst an old surveyors’ camp, it’s the first night’s destination and a perfect place to unwind after the day’s walk. With a large deck overlooking the surrounding woodland, it’s an ideal spot to relax and socialize.
  2. Munro Hut: This is the second overnight stop. The hut is located on the edge of Munro Bight and provides panoramic views of the cliffs and the ocean beyond. This hut is an excellent place to watch the sunrise or enjoy the stars on a clear night.
  3. Retakunna Hut: This hut marks your final overnight stay on the track. Nestled in eucalyptus woodland and with views of Mount Fortescue, it offers a peaceful retreat at the end of a rewarding day.

All huts come equipped with kitchen facilities, complete with gas stoves, cooking utensils, and dining areas, offering a comfortable space to prepare and enjoy meals. Each hut also provides bunk rooms with sleeping platforms and mattresses for a restful night’s sleep after a long day of trekking. The huts also include toilets and untreated rainwater tanks. You are advised to treat or boil the water before consumption.

Booking Ahead:

Given the popularity of the Three Capes Track and in order to preserve the natural environment, the number of walkers starting the track each day is restricted. Hence, it’s necessary to book ahead. The booking includes your permit for the walk, which encompasses park entry, accommodation in the huts, and the boat transfer from Port Arthur to the start of the track at Denmans Cove.

Bookings can be made online through the official Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service website. Remember, spaces are limited and in peak season (summer and holidays), the track can book out months in advance. It is advisable to plan your trip well ahead and secure your booking as early as possible.

The Three Capes Track is not just a walk, it’s an experience, blending Tasmania’s rugged beauty with the comfort of well-equipped huts. Visit the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service website to secure your booking and start planning your trek.

Weather Expectations:

The Tasman Peninsula’s weather can be unpredictable. Summer temperatures can reach 30°C, while winter temperatures can fall below zero. Rain is a possibility throughout the year, and wind can significantly affect conditions at the capes and cliff edges. Always check the local forecast before setting off.

Equipment:

Essential items include layered clothing, a rain jacket and pants, thermal underwear, comfortable footwear, hat, gloves, and a beanie. Bring your own food, a sleeping bag, stove, first aid kit, and personal items like sunscreen, insect repellent, a headlamp, hygiene items, and a towel. Treat or boil the untreated rainwater available at the huts before drinking.

The Four Day Itinerary

Day 1: Port Arthur to Surveyors Hut (4 km)

Your journey begins at Port Arthur with a scenic boat ride to Denmans Cove. The boat trip provides an introduction to the rich history and natural beauty of the region. Once you reach Denmans Cove, you’ll have a short but steep hike (about 1.5 hours) to your accommodation at Surveyors Hut. Enjoy your first night in the wilderness, relaxing on the large deck overlooking the surrounding woodland.

Day 2: Surveyors Hut to Munro Hut (11 km)

Your second day starts with a hike through a eucalypt forest to Arthur’s Peak, which offers fantastic inland views of the peninsula. After descending from the peak, you’ll reach the Lunchtime Creek, an ideal spot to rest and refuel. The day concludes with an awe-inspiring coastal walk along the cliff-tops leading to Munro Hut. Set on the edge of Munro Bight, the hut provides a panoramic view of the cliffs and the ocean.

Day 3: Munro Hut to Retakunna Hut (17 km)

Day three is the most challenging but rewarding day of the journey. You’ll start with a hike to the edge of Cape Pillar, where you can marvel at the vast ocean and the towering dolomite columns. After visiting The Blade and the seal colony, you’ll return to Munro Hut for lunch. Post lunch, you’ll trek to Retakunna Hut via Mount Fortescue and its lush rainforest. At the end of the day, relax and enjoy the tranquil surroundings of Retakunna Hut.

Day 4: Retakunna Hut to Port Arthur (16 km)

Your final day starts with a trek to Cape Hauy, the last of the three capes. It’s an optional side trip, but the spectacular views of the coastline and the iconic Totem Pole and Candlestick rock formations make it worth the extra effort. Once you return from Cape Hauy, continue the journey towards Fortescue Bay. This section of the track takes you through a variety of landscapes, from dry eucalypt forest to coastal heath. Upon reaching Fortescue Bay, a shuttle bus will transport you back to Port Arthur, marking the end of your memorable trek.

Concluding Thoughts:

Walking the Three Capes Track is a commitment of four days and three nights, a commitment to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. It’s about experiencing the wild beauty of Tasman National Park, appreciating the undulating landscapes and immersive experience away from the clatter of contemporary life.

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