Three Capes Track from the air

Cape Hauy

The Three Capes Track hit the headlines in early 2015 when it was lauded as one of the best new travel experiences in the world by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.

High praise indeed, especially given that it was bestowed almost a year before the track, located in the Tasman National Park on the Tasman Peninsula about an hour and a half by road south east from the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, was due to open. Even when it does open in December 2015, the experience will include just two of the proposed three capes.

Tasman National Park
Tasman National Park

So will the experience, for which bookings opened recently and is experiencing strong sales, going to live up to the hype?

I was fortunate enough this week to snag a ride in a chopper along the route of the track, and the scenery is indeed extraordinary, featuring the highest sea cliff coast in Australia and among the highest in the world, and judging from my aerial preview, I’d certainly suggest that it will.

Port Arthur
Port Arthur
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site

The three-night Three Capes Track experience will being at, and include entry to, the Port Arthur Historic Site, providing historical context to the walkers’ wilderness adventure. After exploring the UNESCO World Heritage listed convict penal settlment, walkers will be collected by a boat operated by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys and given a marine tour of the spectacular port that gives its name to Port Arthur.

The Isle of the Dead and Point Puer
The Isle of the Dead and Point Puer
Point Puer and Saftey Cove
Point Puer and Saftey Cove

Heading out past Point Puer, location of the first boys reformatory anywhere in the British empire, and the Isle of the Dead cemetery, the inlet stretches south past spectacular coastline and pristine beaches to meet the Southern Ocean at Tasman Island.

Tasman Island
Tasman Island

Walkers will then be delivered to Denman’s Cove, opposite Port Arthur, to begin their three night walk around the Peninsula via a 46km one-way circuit. The first day will take them to Surveyors Huts, their home for the first night.

Denman's Cove
Denman’s Cove
Surveyors Hut (night 1)
Surveyors Hut (night 1)

The focus of the walk is on being able to enjoy the scenery, not on endurance. The track is carefully graded, with steps built into steeper sections, and the trek is kept to between 4-6 hours per day.

Tasman National Park
Tasman National Park
The Three Capes Track
The Three Capes Track

Day two moves south, with views across to Crescent Bay with the promise of sunset over Cape Raoul (the proposed third cape of the walk) on the ‘big screen’ to the west from the comfort of Munro cabin.

Crescent Bay with Cape Raoul in the distance to the west
Crescent Bay with Cape Raoul in the distance to the west

Day three winds down to Cape Pillar where the track winds around The Blade, a narrow sheath of dolorite hovering over the narrow passage between the Cape and Tasman Island, before wending its way back up the eastern side of the promintory to Retukunna cabin, with its cantilevered observation deck hanging over the top of the cliff.

Tasman National Park
Tasman National Park
Cape Pillar
Cape Pillar
The Blade
The Blade
Tasman Island Lighthouse
Tasman Island Lighthouse

The final day includes climbing Mount Fortescue before heading east to Cape Hauy, then back to Fortescue Bay, where walkers will be collected by coach and returned to Port Arthur.

Three Capes Track
Three Capes Track
Retakunna Hut (Night 3)
Retakunna cabin (Night 3)
Cape Hauy
Cape Hauy
The view north from Fortescue Bay to Eaglehawk Neck
The view north from Fortescue Bay to Eaglehawk Neck

The walk is being restricted to a maximum of 48 walkers per day, the first of whom will depart on December 23, 2015.

I’ve walked parts of the track, from Fortescue Bay to Cape Hauy, and I’ll look forward to experiencing the entire journey at the earliest opportunity.

threecapestrack.com.au