It was my twentieth wedding anniversary on 26 January 2017 and my wife, Helen and I thought, what better way to celebrate than with a spectacular hike!
The new Three Capes Track (3CT) in Tasmania was an obvious choice not only because of its spectacular scenery but also because it allows for a range of fitness levels and for people who are not accustomed to hauling heavy packs over multiple days.
Tents and cooking gear is not required as high quality huts with clean and comfortable sleeping quarters and well equipped, kitchens are provided at each overnight location. Consequently, packs are lighter than you would normally expect for overnight walking. Although in my case I made up for it with some luxuries such as non-dehydrated food, plenty of chocolate and a cask of red wine.
The 3CT was the brain child of the Tasmanian Government to develop a second iconic multiday walking track to rival the famous ‘Overland Track’. In a similar vain to the Overland Track, the 3CT limits the number of walkers allowed to start each day to 48 and charges a fee of $500 per person. It is thought that the 3CT will reduce the demand on the Overland Track, protect the environment it allows walkers to experience, and at the same time generate increased tourism revenue for Tasmania.
The 3CT at the moment is actually a ‘two capes’ track with only the Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy sections fully completed (about 50km of track to date). Construction activity for the 35km Cape Raoul section has now begun and is expected to be complete by end 2018.
Despite this, the truncated 3CT has proved popular with more than 11 000 people having completed the walk since it opened in November 2015, in fact Helen and I were number 11 354 and 11 355.
The track is well constructed and sign posted along its entirety, and easily walked in all weather conditions. Definitely no mud or uneven walking surfaces here.
At various points along the track there are seats suitably positioned at the top of inclines to enjoy the view. There are also numerous pieces of outdoor art work that are generally interpretive and provide an insight to the natural and cultural history of the local area.
Day 1 The walk begins at Denman’s Cove and requires a boat ride from Port Arthur. The boat ride is actually a boat ‘tour’, where you are shown the coastline around Port Arthur, including Safety Cove and Crescent Bay. Once dropped off at Denman’s cove it was a short walk (about 4km along a pleasant bush track) to our first night’s accommodation at Surveyors Hut.
At 6pm each evening the resident ranger calls a meeting for all the walkers and outlines what to expect the next day. The ranger also encourages walkers to leave comments on what they like about the huts and what could be done to improve them. This has resulted in a number of new initiatives including a solar powered hot water bucket shower, provision of yoga mats, foam rollers, board games and of course reading material.
One aspect I liked was the range of books available was identical at each hut so you could read the same book each evening, so no need to carry a book or kindle!!
Day 2 The next day was an easy 11km walk to Munro Hut. The track opened up somewhat from the coastal Eucalypt forest to reveal some magnificent coastal scenery, looking west to Cape Raoul and north to the nearby Munro Bight and Cape Hauy.
Day 3 was the longest day of the track (about 17km). The day involved a 7km walk to the tip of Cape Pillar from Munro Hut carrying daypacks. The scenery along this stretch was absolutely staggering with magnificent coastal views including sea cliffs, dolerite columns and Tasman Island, just off the tip of Cape Pillar. On retuning to Munro Hut, we picked up our main packs and walked a few more kilometres to Retakunna Hut, where we spent our final night of the walk.
Day 4 The last day of the walk was a 14 km walk to the tip of Cape Huay and then on to Fortescue
Bay. This day was probably the ‘hardest’ day, as there were some fairly significant undulations, and the climb up to Cape Huay is quite steep. Again, the coastal scenery in all directions was magnificent. The sea was calm and we spotted kayakers at the base of the sea cliffs and rock climbers scaling the ‘Totem Pole’ a dolerite column emerging from the sea at the tip of Cape Huay. The walk to Fortescue Bay was picturesque and a delightful spot for a swim. Bus transport from here returned us to our car at Port Arthur.
Some of the track is restricted to those walkers booked through the official 3CT booking system (Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service), however the key sections of the track, out to Cape Huay and Cape Pillar, are open to the general public and can easily be accessed from Fortescue Bay. Camping for nonbooked overnight walkers is possible with the Wughallee designated camp site accessible from Fortescue Bay and provides a good long day walk to Cape Pillar and Cape Huay.
To sum up, the 3CT is easy with very comfortable hut accommodation and magnificent Tasmanian coastal scenery to enjoy (assuming good weather of course). I would definitely recommend the 3CT for a special occasion or to people who enjoy hiking, and also want a soft mattress and a bit of luxury at the end of the day.
The Three Capes Track website is http://www.threecapestrack.com.au/