Three Capes Track
The Three Capes Track in Tasmania is not only an experience of the wilderness of Tasman Peninsula but also a journey in its history .
The Three Capes Track is a coastal walk with beautiful beaches, stunning coastal and endless sea views. Along the way, you can enjoy stories about the convict heritage, life in the forests and underwater and the formation of dolerite rock and cliffs millions of years ago, in Jurassic period.
The four day walk starts at Port Arthur Historic Site with a boat cruise to Denmans Cove and ends at Fortescue Bay.
Total length of the track is 46 km. Over four days, you visit two of the Three Capes, Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy.
The walk is undulating and gentle. You walk mainly on boardwalks and well maintained trails.
The trail has been constructed to preserve the nature but also to share stories along the trail, to keep you amused and enhance your knowledge of the area. There are 30 story seats along the trail constructed by furniture designers, students from Tasmania University and Tasmanian aboriginal Community. Each seat is unique and describes a story.
Booking is essential at https://www.threecapestrack.com.au as the numbers of walkers is limited. The walking is self guided. The fee covers accommodation, the boat trip, and the bus fee to return to Port Arthur.
Day 1 Denmans Cove to Surveyors Hut 4 km, 1-1.5 hours
The adventure starts at Port Arthur Historic Site where you need to register to receive The Three Capes Track Pass and the book “Encounters on the Edge”. You have time to visit the Historic Port Arthur and to have lunch at the café before boarding on the boat cruise with Pennicott Wilderness.
At 1400 hour the enthusiastic group board the boat which takes you past Island of Dead to see the coast you will walk the next days. The Island of Dead is the burial ground of more than 1200 transportees from Port Arthur.
From the boat you will be able to see the third cape in the distance, Cape Raoul .
After you are disembark on the beach of Denmans Cove and take the compulsory photo at the Trailhead, the walk begins along the coast.
The walk is short and pleasant, through coastal vegetation and eucalyptus, only 4 km from Denmans Cove to Surveyors Cabin and takes about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.
You discover 2 stories on the trail, Dear Eliza and Waving Arms.
Dear Eliza is the representation of a “Love Token” which is a coin with an engraved message which the convicts imprisoned at Port Arthur used to send to the loved ones.
Waving Arms represents the story of the ingenious communication system used by Charles O’Hara Booth, Commandant at Port Arthur in 1983 to 1984. It consists of movable arms which were set at different angle with a numerical meaning which could be translated into words using a unique code.
Messages were sent from Port Arthur to Hobart. Obviously it did not work if there was high wind or fog!
Soon you pass The Surveyor Cove with its cobblestone beach, from where you are less than one hour from the Surveyors Cabin.
Accommodation is in cabin with rooms of 4- 6 people. It is worth to mention if you travel with friends as you can get accommodation together. The cabins are build eco friendly. Two adjacent rooms communicate through an open area near the ceiling for ventilation. The room has 2 bunks for 4 people. Don’t forget to take the torch and ear plugs, essential for a good sleep.
The kitchen has facilities for cooking, pots and pans, water and enough tables and chairs for everyone. You can charge your mobile phone and there is some reception for Telstra mobile phones. Books and boarding games are provided to have fun in the evening.
Each day at 1800 the Ranger tells you more stories about the Three Capes Track and informs you about the weather and the next day walk.
Day 2 Surveyors Hut to Munro Hut 11 km in 4 hours
Start walking through eucalypt forest and heath lands. After one hour walk, walk across open moorlands with occasional water views.
A short climb to Arthurs Peak, you will be rewarded with panoramic views over Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean.
The track zigzags through gum trees, short twisted and sturdy windswept flora of Ellarwey Valley.
More stories emerge along the track. From “Punishment to Playground” which tells the story of Port Arthur changing from the infamous prison to a place where visitors enjoy its beauty and relax at the historic site.
I have enjoyed the cube shaped seats called “Who Was Here?” The wombat sticker gives us a clue that it is inspired from the wombat’s scats. I have read that wombats can hold their offerings for up to 16 days. Ouch!
More stories on the way and you reach a track junction, left towards Retakunna and right to Munro. You turn right to walk to the second night destination Munro Hut. From the deck you will enjoy the golden sunset and the views over the Munro Bight.
Munro Hut to Cape Pillar and return to Munro Hut to Retakunna 19 km 6-7 hours
After breakfast leave your backpack to Munro Hut shed. With only a daypack you head towards Cape Pillar.
Initial through forests of Tasmania Waratah on boardwalk and later on rocky coastline, you will walk through Corruption Gully, along the Purgatory Hill, Hurricane heath and Desolation Gully to reach the Blade.
Mostly of this names were given by early adventurers Tim Christie and Reg Wiliams who bush bash to Cape Pillar in 1967.
On the way more story seats to relax and take all in. “Wind Song”, “My Blood Runs Cold”, “Sex on the Cape” to name a few.
Follow the path at the edge of the cliff to the Blade Lookout and admire the stunning views over The Tasman Island. The remote Island has a lighthouse built in 1906 which used to flash every 7.5 seconds and could be seen from 72 km away. The life of the light keepers was full of hardships on this remote place. Before joining the service at the lighthouse, they were required to have teeth extracted to prevent teeth infections. Getting produce on the island was a complex 9 steps process that involved transferring from large boat to a dinghy, to a flying fox basket and then to a landing platform. From here the load was transferred on a trolley and finally carried by a horse drawn tram to the cottages.
Leaving the Blade take the way to Cape Pillar with its sheer cliff rising 300 meters high and the Cathedral Rock which stands alone off the tip of the Cape Pillar.
From Cape Pillar, head back to Munro Hut, collect you backpack to head to third night accommodation Retakunna.
Day 4 Retakunna to Cape Hauy and Fortescue Bay 14 km, 6-7 hours
At sunrise, start walking up and over Mount Fortescue for the first hour, through a lush rain forest with thick layers of moss covering rocks, tall tree ferns and eucalypti. From here the track leads to Cape Hauy.
When you reach the junction, you can leave the back pack behind and take the track to Cape Hauy. Reaching the Cape Huay lookout enjoy the views and look for the dolerite pillar called Totem Pole that draws rock climbers from around the world. Returning to the junction, collect your backpack and head on the gentle downhill to Fortescue Bay. Take the photo finish before you swim in the pristine waters of the bay and take the bus to Port Arthur.
Your 4 day historical journey enriched your knowledge and all your senses from the dramatic landscape, to the variety of wildlife, unique flora and spectacular coast.
Return for more challenging hikes with stunning views… Tasmania has it all!
For some of my favorites check the links below