If you are seeking a bushwalking adventure with a touch of comfort, the Three Capes Track which starts at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania is ideal. A high-quality track with stylish huts staffed by rangers along the way has already established this 48 kilometre trek as one of Tasmania’s iconic walks. With only 48 people allowed to depart each day to use the National Parks operated huts, we recommend booking well ahead for this amazing hike through spectacular wilderness.
Our management from TasVacations undertook this walk recently and from first-hand experience would not hesitate to recommend to walkers of moderate fitness levels. Extraordinary workmanship has gone into crafting thousands of stone steps complemented by approximately 20% of the track being board walk raised above the ground. Whilst parts are flat and easy there are sufficient climbs into temperate rainforest to elevate the heart rate. If that does not lift your heart rate the scenery surely will!
Launching Into Adventure
The fee (currently $495 pp) for this four-day trek includes a one-hour launch trip from Port Arthur to Denman’s Cove from which you walk to the first hut. This first day is a relatively short 4 kilometres but with a full pack up a few climbs you’ll be delighted to reach Surveyors hut for your first night. Take provisions for BBQ if you wish – fresh meat, even cold beer and a wine on first night before you set in for three more amazing days. At the end of your trip, a shuttle bus will transfer you from Fortescue Bay back to Port Arthur. The three architect-designed huts along the Three Capes Track have fully-equipped kitchens, deck chairs, board games and even phone charging stations. Comfortable beds are available in either four- or eight-bed dorm rooms.
The great advantage of the huts is that you do not need to be weighed down with camping gear meaning that even those who are only moderately fit can complete this walk. Of course, instead of carrying tents and stoves, many travellers choose to fill their packs with bottles of wine and indulgent cheeses instead. Whilst the huts are well-equipped, you do need to bring your own food.
Day 2 is 11 kilometres including a steep climb up Arthurs Peak from where amazing views across the bay to Crescent Bay, and beyond to Cape Raoul and back to Port Arthur await. View amazing birdlife soaring above and watch the boats (dots on the ocean) below as they sail or motor past. Open plains, then rain forest is encountered before reaching Munro Hut – usually by early afternoon. Put your feet up and this night you can also enjoy a hot shower – one bucket per person!
Most travellers find that a 10kg pack which contains food, a sleeping bag and extra clothes is sufficient. We actually over-catered with food and “refreshments” – nothing like a nice wine and/or nip of whisky after a days walking but we had packs closer to 20kg – the good part is it gets lighter every day!
Day 3 – Your longest trek will be a 17 kilometre round trip to Cape Pillar and The Blade. For this day trip, you will be able to leave your backpack at Munro hut and simply carry food and water. Return to Munro Hut around lunchtime – early afternoon – pick up your full pack which is securely stored for you and head on another 4km to the last hut – Retakunna, located at the foot of Mt Fortescue.
The Three Capes Track offers the chance to walk through a variety of terrains and view the wildlife which thrives in this pristine environment. You will hike through coastal heath, beech forest, eucalypt woodland, rainforest and swamplands with boardwalks and gravel tracks to ease your way. You will also skirt along the edge of cliffs, climb some peaks and walk through windswept valleys.
One of the trip highlights occurs on day three when the walk to Cape Pillar affords magical views of isolated Tasman Island which is surrounded by cliffs rising directly out of the sea. You will also see the jaw-dropping 300 metre high ocean cliffs which are the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere.
You may encounter friends such as echidnas, quolls and wombats, dolphins and seals along the way. An outstanding array of birds such as currawongs, sea eagles, albatrosses, parrots and honeyeaters inhabit the area.
Day 4 – recommend an early start, around 8am, and very quickly you’ll be climbing 425m up Mt Fortescue – you’ll hardly notice the gasps for breath as you complete this climb through simply wonderful temperate rainforest – lots of zig-zag to take the steepness away – as the track builders have definitely had walkers in mind when building this section. Walk along cliff edges and you’ll be gazing back to Cape Pillar – where you were only 24 hours ago – eventually making your way to the turn off to Cape Huay. This section to the Cape is a 2 hour return but involves seemingly endless steps – again well crafted and so worth the final effort to reach the Totem Pole or Candlestick as some call it.
Pick up your full pack again at the turn off – by this stage it should be early afternoon and then enjoy the mostly downhill walk into Fortescue Bay – where a stunning beach and crystal clear waters await for you to soothe your feet. A small shop/café will provide a cool drink, or coffee/tea – even an ice-cream to treat yourself after 4 magnificent days where you have been immersed in nature and take pride in a sense of great personal achievement. The coach will return you to Port Arthur departing Fortescue at 3pm……we suggest relax and enjoy a night on the Tasman Peninsula before heading back to Hobart or onwards.
Our health app records day 4 as 19 kilometres, 27,889 steps and an incredible 425 flights of stairs – so you have earned a drink at the end!
Encounters on the Edge
The Three Capes Track has been designed as a work of art. Travellers who book this walk are given the “Encounters on the Edge” storybook. Hikers are encouraged to sit on artistic seats along the way and savour the matching tale in the book. It might be a convict story, a revelation about the geology of the area or even information about the wildlife. Many hikers find that this gives them an emotional connection to the environment and encourages them to enjoy the journey rather than focussing on the destination.
Three Capes Track provides a unique, wonderful way to experience Tasmania’s south-west coast. It is recommended that travellers spend at least one night in Port Arthur after the trek to enjoy the other historic and natural attractions in the region.
Guided Walking Experience
For walkers preferring to have the added benefit of your own guide, food and wine prepared for you and not needing to carry so much gear then Three Capes has two great options for you to consider:
Three Capes – three different options – whichever you choose the scenery, coastline, bird and animal life will amaze you – walking holidays in Tasmania – you will enjoy our great walks!