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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.