You and I are about to head off on a short-ish stroll and this one is an absolute stunner.
The weather gods smiled on us – most of the time – and it made for a glorious walking experience through the Australian bush and along some spectacular coastline.
Before we get too far down the track though, here is an introduction to the logistics of walking the Three Capes Track on the East coast of Tasmania.
What is the Three Capes Track (3CT)?
The 3CT meanders through an area that edges the coastline above Port Arthur (North East of Hobart) in Tasmania. It has been a popular walking destination for +40 years, but the recent upgrade of the track and establishment of huts in December 2015 has seen the popularity of this path boom.
How Far Is It?
The walk we did (more on that in the next section) was 48km in length, or thereabouts. My Garmin watch rarely marries up to the official distances:
Day 1 – 4km
Day 2 – 11km
Day 3 – 19km
Day 4 – 14km
These did feel like decadently short distances compared to my usual walking efforts, but it meant that we could really take our time and enjoy the gorgeous landscapes, or arrive at our destination early and simply relax for the afternoon.
How to Walk the 3CT?
The 3CT really has an option for any style of walker, with any budget.
- 3CT Path: We chose the official path which gave us access to the most amazing boardwalk and path infrastructure, eco-friendly sleeping huts, common/kitchen areas and composting toilets. $495pp.
- Independent Hike to Cape Pillar: It is possible to walk most of this path independently and tent camp at the designated campsites. You can’t access the full path (that we walked), but you do get to enjoy most of the same scenery. An Annual Parks Pass costs around $92pp.
- Luxury: Tas Walking Co offers a luxury option with a guided walk, real beds, gourmet food, wine, massages and lap pools. Prices start from $3,395pp for 3nights/4days. No judgement here – if your budget runs to that, then go for it!
When to Go?
I did not have high hopes for good weather as Tassie’s weather is notoriously fickle. We were very lucky though and only got slightly damp on the last day.
The Track is open all year except for two weeks in August when they undertake some cool burning activities in certain sections of the Park. I would recommend aiming for the ‘drier’ months of February and March or later in the year, say November.
The Path & Terrain
OMG! The path is outstanding. It is incredibly well-maintained, clear, smooth and wide. So different to what I have walked recently on the Great North Walk. A significant portion of the path includes raised timber boardwalks which equates to zero trip hazards, you can get a good pace up, and your feet stay dry.
Yes, there are plenty of steps and stairs as you hike up and down ridgelines, and there are a couple of lung-busting climbs (hello, Mt Fortescue), but that just gives you a good excuse to pause, check out the scenery, and catch your breath.
For those who are not in love with heights, the path does go close-ish to cliff edges, but it is perfectly safe and, if you avert your eyes, you can safely ignore the sheer drops! 😊
Where to Stay?
As mentioned above, the sleeping huts/cabins are very comfortable. Yes, you are sleeping with 3-7 of your closest friends or complete strangers, but ear plugs and a good dose of patience can overcome any obstacles in the sleeping quarters.
The kitchen/common room areas are a welcome retreat. These rooms are the only ones with heating and light, and you are encouraged to linger and chat to your new friends. All the buildings are architecturally designed and 100% off-grid so they are a true oasis in the bush.
What to Take?
You backpack is a little lighter on this walk as you leave your tent and all your cooking gear at home. Just bring your warmest sleeping bag and a change of clothes. Your food can be rehydrated/cooked in the kitchen which features excellent cooking facilities including gas cooktops, saucepans, kettles and bowls. You do need to bring your own plate, mug, eating utensils etc.
USB charging points are available in the kitchen area and they are very popular. You may have quite a queue/wait to be able to charge your phone or other devices (unless you get to the hut early!).
Pack plenty of warm clothing and waterproof gear, even if you are visiting in Summer. Layering is the key. I recommend a down jacket, beanie, gloves, and merino t-shirts etc for the day’s walk. A broad-brimmed hat and a head torch, or similar, are also vital.
Who Is It For?
The maximum number of walkers on any one day at the huts is 48. That sounds like a lot, but the facilities can handle it and, as everyone walks at a different pace, you quickly spread out on the track and it is not crowded.
A decent level of fitness is handy for any walking adventure and the shorter distances make this track accessible to most people. In our group of 48 there was an 88year old man, in the group ahead of us were 1, 3, and 5 year old children, and in the group behind us a couple was walking with a 10month old baby. I am not sure that is a good idea considering the changeable weather and impact on other walkers.
What Else is There to See?
Your walk admission fee includes unlimited entry to the Port Arthur Historic site if you have some time spare pre- and post- walk. You also receive a fantastic 94-page information book which explains much of the flora and fauna in the area. In addition, the book describes the imaginatively designed seats (created by architecture students) that are located along the path.
Waymarking & Information Resources
The path is incredibly clear and easy to follow. At any intersections there are signs telling you which direction to head. If you get lost on this path, you really shouldn’t be allowed outside unsupervised! 😊 It is that easy to follow. The information book (mentioned above) also has clear and detailed maps for you to review before you set out.
Getting There/Getting Away
Port Arthur is the official start of this track and is located approximately 95km North East of Hobart. There is ample, free long-stay car parking space at the Port Arthur Historic site if you decide to drive out there or Pennicott Tours offer shuttle services to/from Hobart. Tassielink, the public bus service, also connects to Hobart.
As part of your walking fee, a scenic boat ride delivers you across the bay to the start of the path and a bus will collect you at Fortescue Bay for the short, return trip to Port Arthur.
Why Do It?
In my opinion, this is a must-do walk. The scenery is simply breathtaking and the walk infrastructure is World Class. While we didn’t see a lot of wildlife other than wallabies and pademelons (smaller macropods), the birdlife was plentiful and the native plants and flowers were beautiful. I suspect the flowers would be even more prolific as temperatures warm up and Spring progresses.
On top of all that, you get to meet really interesting people from all over Australia. What is not to love?
You may be able to tell that I am a fan and I would return in a heartbeat to walk it all again. Before I get too carried away though, stay tuned for a few posts describing each stage of the walk.
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