At some ungodly hour of the night, I woke to hear the rain hammering on the tin roof of our hut. No amount of misplaced optimism on my behalf had been able to keep it away.
Oh well, time to break out the wet weather gear for our final day out on the Three Capes Track.
Day: 4 & Final
Date: Friday, 16 September 2022
From: Retakunna Hut
To: Fortescue Bay and then Port Arthur
Official Distance: 14km Actual Distance: 14.6km
Ascent: 707m Descent: 903m
Weather: Light rain and mist, then bucketing rain
Stayed At: Travelodge Hobart with a real shower and real sheets on a comfy bed…and only one snorer!
- Rule #1: Listen to the Park Ranger at the hut AND believe her. She said it was going to damp today and she said we would enjoy it! With spin that would make any marketing professional proud, she waxed lyrical about the joys of walking in the rain on the Three Capes Track and what a true privilege it is to do so. While the jury is still out on that one, it is true that we have been incredibly lucky up to this point, with three beautiful sunny days. I guess it is only fair and right that we should see the Capes in all weathers. Although….
- Retakunna Hut: This hut is yet another small oasis in a big landscape. Nestled at the base of Mt Fortescue it also seems to nestle into an open patch of land with gentle views of the bush beyond. Thank goodness the toilets were much closer!
- Mount Fortescue: At 482m, Mt Fortescue is the highest climb on the whole track. In the scheme of things, it is not that high, but seems it after a big day’s walk the previous day. My legs were very reluctant to ‘get with the programme’ this morning. Thank goodness our packs were at their lightest after eating 95% of our food, although I did see some fellow walkers jettisoning excess food in the kitchen. They were preparing for the worst and, at the same time, contributing to the ‘trail angel’ box for future walkers. A win win.
- Terrain & Beauty: Despite the up-and-down nature of today’s route, it is stunningly beautiful. All those stiff climbs provide a good excuse to pause and admire the views. The sides of Mt Fortescue are covered with thick, dark forest which added to the mystery of the misty morning. Fallen trees, covered with delicate lichens, melt into the undergrowth, while fat drops of water strategically plop down the back of your neck – neatly missing all that wet weather gear and producing shrieks and shivers.
Over a ridge and then down into another deep gully, the path plunges. Massive tree ferns tower over us and yet more lichens and thick brush give the place the feel of a true fairy bower. A walk for all the senses with everything lush and moist from last night’s bucketing rain. The colours are deep and fresh and the smells were the same – very earthy and moist. You could almost see the fallen logs and trees dissolving into the earth.
- Cape Hauy: Eventually the path breaks out of the thick damp forest into more open eucalypt scrub and we come to the turn off to walk out/back to Cape Hauy. Will we or won’t we detour? It is only misting rain lightly and Ranger Jess told us it was a mere 1000 steps/stairs out and then back again. She did not do a good job of selling the features of this option!
Well, we decided we were ‘not here to lick stamps’ and down we plunged into the deep valley and its endless stairs. Down, down, down, up, up, up, down, down, down, up, up, up, and then down again.
Was it worth it? Yes, it was worth doing just to be able to say we have done it, but if you had already had your fill of misty views and crashing waves, then you could safely bypass this detour. Also, it was actually 2,060 steps ONE WAY. Perhaps it is not a good idea to believe a Ranger after all.
- Soggy End: Having ticked the Cape Hauy box, we set off for the final hour of our walk and DOWN came the rain. Our wet weather gear held off the worst of it, but we all straggled in to the shelter of Fortescue Bay like a parade of drowned rats. Doneski!
Top Tips for this Section:
- Cape Hauy: At the turn off to Cape Hauy is a small seating area where you can safely stash your packs, rather than carry them all the way out and back. It makes it a much easier and quicker walk. It felt quite safe to leave things tucked under the bushes.
- Showers: Fortescue Bay is still part of the National Park and there are extensive camping and picnic facilities. There are also hot shows (you need to buy a token to operate them) and they would have been very welcome on that wet and cold day. We just didn’t discover them until too late and near pick-up time.
- Soup: The café at Port Arthur has quite an extensive menu, but best of all is the soup. It was an absolute lifesaver and, if I could have dived into the bowl and swum around in it, I would have. Their open fires are also very handy for drying out soggy bushwalkers.
Here endeth the Three Capes Track adventure…this time. I would do it all again in a heart-beat and heartily recommend you do the same.
Happy trails everyone!
- Three Capes Track – Read more about it – HERE
- Parks Tasmania – Read more about it – HERE
- Overview of the whole Track – Read more about it – HERE
- Day 1 on the Three Capes Track – Read more about it – HERE
- Day 2 on the Three Capes Track – Read more about it – HERE
- Day 3 on the Three Capes Track – Read more about it – HERE
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