The Three Capes Track Walk is a scenic 48 kilometre bushwalk on the Tasman Peninsula, named after Cape Raoul, Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy in Tasmania off Australia’s south east coast. Opened in 2015, this moderately challenging and very well-designed walking experience takes in staggering coastal sites from a purpose-built track along remote and rugged cliff tops over four days and three nights. The track meanders through breathtaking coastal landscapes, overlooking the majestic Southern Ocean frequently glimpsing marine life such as whales and dolphins darting in and out of the waves while fur seals lounge among low lying rocks.
On most itineraries the journey begins and ends at the Port Arthur Historic Site. Port Arthur was a 19th century penal settlement and is now preserved as an open-air museum. Ruins include the huge penitentiary and the remaining shell of the Convict Church, which was built by inmates.
From Port Arthur, just over an hour's cruise delivers walkers to the start of the track at Denmans Cove. Over four days and three nights, walkers will cover the 48 kilometres, experiencing native eucalypt forests, coastal heath and Australia’s tallest sea cliffs.
Relaxed evenings can be spent in warm and comfortable shared accommodation in the eco-cabins at Surveyors, Munro and Retakunna, or in lodge accommodation. Walkers can choose to take the self-guided option or undertake a fully-guided itinerary and the track is open year-round.
The first day is relatively leisurely and largely taken up with the transfer from Port Arthur to Denman Cove. Walkers can select from two boat transfer times, both allow enough daylight hours for a 4 km walk (approximately 1.5-2 hours) from Denman Cove to the first night’s accommodation at Surveyors. This short stretch of the track among woodland and heath gives a hint of the beauty that lies ahead, the unique colours of the Tasman Peninsula surrounding the track at every turn. Throughout the track, walkers can rest at artistic installations and benches, featuring links to a dedicated Three Capes Track guidebook.
Day two can be taken at a gentle pace, with a comfortable 11 km to cover, which will take most agile walkers around 4 - 4.5 hours. The track heads south with views over Safety Cove and Maingon Bay to Bruny Island. A short climb to Arthur's Peak is rewarded with impressive views across the sparkling water of Crescent Bay and beyond to Cape Raoul. From the forested slopes of Crescent Mountain, the track descends to cross the wide and windswept Ellarwey Valley before disappearing into the shelter of the eucalypt forest where accommodation at Munro awaits.
A good night’s rest to the sound of the rhythmic pounding of ocean waves will prepare for a more challenging day of walking on Day 3.19km of exhilarating clifftop hiking will take most walkers around 6 hours. The track loops back to Munro so it is possible to cover much of the day with just bare essentials, before collecting gear on the way back past the cabin. Enormous sea cliffs dive into the vast swirling ocean between the peninsula and Tasman Island, providing many reasons to pause and admire the spectacular views, perhaps glimpsing the weathered lighthouse in the distance. The track veers upward first, scaling The Blade at Cape Pillar before continuing on through fragrant gum forest and heathland to the accommodation at Retakunna where walkers can rest weary limbs taking in the incredible views of Mount Fortescue.
Day 4 begins with the final climb, Mount Fortescue which rises 490 meters above sea level, before venturing out to the tip of Cape Hauy. Ancient dolerite columns and jagged rockfaces dominate the landscape while remote islands rise up from the sea. From this point the track is mostly downhill to the white sands of Fortescue Bay, where swimmers may refresh with a quick dip. 14 km over 6 or 7 hours means an early start for most to ensure arriving comfortably for the return trip to Port Arthur. The bus transfer takes 30 minutes and departs at 2.30 and 4.00 pm daily.
The cabins at Surveyors, Munro and Retakunna provide basic necessities and comfortable mattresses in shared sleeping quarters. The kitchens contain gas cooktops, saucepans, frying pans and kettles in (no microwave ovens or fridge) and cooking utensils however walkers will need to bring their own knives, forks, spoons, cup, plate, bowl and all food for all meals. There is adequate space to eat indoors or out, USB charging stations, heating, lighting, toilets and outdoor showers. A host ranger is on hand at all times to answer questions.
For those travelling long distances or more comfortable on a fully-guided and planned itinerary, a variety of small group tours exist benefiting from more sophisticated lodge accommodation, all meals and transport to and from Hobart.
The Three Capes Lodges are architecturally designed, discreetly positioned along the trail within the national park. Each Lodge ensures maximum exposure to the incredible views outside with sliding doors in the living and communal spaces. The lodges feature hot showers, private ensuite bedrooms with fresh linen, large lounge areas to share stories and compare notes with fellow walkers, dining and kitchen areas and each night a delicious 3-course meal is included utilising local produce to enjoy with Tasmanian wine. A hearty breakfast is also served each morning.
Stewarts Bay Lodge offers a less strenuous introduction to this area of outstanding natural beauty, nestled between beach, forest, and ocean amid this world heritage listed national park. Located on the shores of Stewarts Bay at Port Arthur, Stewarts Bay Lodge offers a variety of quality self-contained cabin and chalet accommodation with restaurant, function rooms and recreation facilities while an enticing selection of fresh foods is prepared and served at the Lodge's "Gabriel's on the Bay" restaurant. For a pre or post-walk wilderness stay, or as a standalone base from which to explore this magnificent region, the Stewarts Bay Lodge is sure to suit.
View all Three Capes Track Walks here.
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