by Shelley Reynolds
If you like hikes that are very well organised, offer full support and smooth running, include a well-groomed trail, accommodation in an architectural masterpiece, a nice soft bed and majestic views, then you should consider The Three Capes Track.
Looking towards the Blade
Like to take it easy, wake late, enjoy a long breakfast, have a chat with newfound friends and enjoy socialising late into the evening? Or, do you prefer to be up early at sunrise, hit the trail and have breakfast with a different view each day, enjoy stillness, peace and serenity then go to bed when the sun goes down? Either way, this walk is you.
I walked The Three Capes early last December and found this to truly be a walk for everyone, young or mature, experienced hikers or the reasonably fit. It is also a great introduction to multi-day walks for novices. Be warned though, Tassie’s weather is unpredictable and adds an additional sense of drama to this haunting, diverse and majestic landscape. Just bring full wet weather gear!
Day 1 - 4km
I arrived at Port Arthur Historic Site and checked in at The Three Capes reception (where you can stow luggage in their generous, no fee lockers). A maximum of 48 walkers per day are split into two groups and taken on a scenic boat trip to the start of the walk. This thrilling ride was a fantastic introduction to the geology and history of the region. Make sure you take a group photo before you excitedly head off, as some of these people may become firm friends by the end of the walk.
An easy first day took us through coastal heathland and eucalypt woodland, via a lunch stop at pebbly Surveyors Cove, to Surveyors Hut. It’s an impressive structure, one of three purpose-built for your overnight accommodation. ‘Hut’ is a misleading term for these brilliantly designed buildings – featuring comfortable bunkrooms, well-equipped kitchens and toilets. Yoga mats are provided, should you fancy a stretch after a day’s walk, and the views from each hut are stunning, the first being towards Cape Raul. It’s here that we met the hut ranger who had everything prepared for our arrival. A briefing each evening brought the whole group together, and included the weather report for the next day and some interesting facts about the area.
Day 2 - 11km
The day's first climb was up Arthur's Peak, but it was a gentle climb and spectacular views awaited us. Today we also got a taste of “Encounters on the Edge” – a term describing the track’s close proximity to the edge of 300 metre dolerite sea cliffs and a sheer vertical drop to the sea. Don’t worry – if you’ve got some height or vertigo issues as I do, you can get as close to, or as far away from the edge as you wish.
Each day brought such diverse landscapes, such as the tall stringybark forest, open moorlands and colourful heathlands of this area. Spring is always a brilliant time to be out walking and the massive displays of wildflowers – pink boronia, yellow dogwood and waratah - were delightful.
Even in the wet, arriving at Munro Hut was dazzling. Perched high above the sea cliffs of Munro Bight with Cape Hauy in the distance, the views were breathtaking. Dolphins were even spotted in the waters far below! For some though, Munro's highlight was its hot bush shower!
Day 3 - 17km
Leave your gear at Munro and take a day pack with lunch and a thermos for the walk to The Blade and Cape Pillar. A sheltered stop at ‘Seal Spa’ is the perfect place for morning coffee, with views back to The Blade you have just conquered. Yes, those tiny specks you can see at the top are your fellow walkers. This stretch has many ‘story seats’ and the day's guide gives you loads of information on the landscape and its flora and fauna. Shelley's Tip: your walk will be so much more rewarding if you read the stories beforehand. Collect your pack from Munro on your way to Retakuna Hut, a leisurely stroll downhill.
Day 4 - 14km
I experienced a little sadness knowing that this was the last day on the track, but my mood lifted as I passed through a spectacle of colour along the boardwalk. This gave way to tall woodlands and then rain forest. Here the track felt more natural as it passed through a landscape that has never been touched by fire. The moss covered rocks and tree ferns as tall as eucalypts felt ancient, and with good reason. An early morning stop at the top of Mount Fortescue impressed, with views across the Tasman Sea to Cape Hauy and the cliffs of Munro Bight. At the junction we dropped our backpacks and took day packs for the hike out to Cape Pillar and the famed Totem Pole. Yes, there are a lot of steps!
The day ended with a gentle downhill walk to Fortescue Bay where the shuttle took us back to Port Arthur. If you are blessed as I was, the sun will shine on this perfect beach and you will not be deterred from a swim in the crystal clear cold water. What a way to finish this fabulous walk!
Official website: www.threecapestrack.com.au