When I read about the opening of this new ‘must do’ hike, I realised that this was next on my hiking wish list. A stepping stone between a supported hike and a full-on backpacking experience. I figured I was their target audience. Booking to be on the track for New Years meant that my sister and I were on the track a week after it opened.
The track has been well thought out and I think it hit the mark in being informative, stunning, modern and epic. The boat ride at the start of the hike highlighted the coastline that we would be viewing and gave us a point of reference over the next few days. The cabins were positioned to allow us to focus on the famed three capes. Even though the hike doesn’t yet include Cape Raule – it was prominent in the view from the deck of Surveyors Hut on our first night.
The guidebook turned out to be a valuable resource that was never far from hand as we embraced the educational aspect of the track. Every day’s next hike was studied, stories read, flowers observed. The design element of the track, the seats designed by students, became the focal points for stopping to appreciate your surroundings. Admittedly some of them didn’t have actual seats that could be used by a couple of weary backpackers looking to lighten their load.
For more information see the official webpage www.threecapestrack.com.au but hopefully, you find the following insights helpful if you are considering doing the track.
Just how hilly?
The elevation profile was the biggest surprise of the booklet. I realised that I hadn’t actually seen the hills in relief on all of the inspirational web pages that I had poured over. I think an oversight as it could have assisted in planning training hikes. Maybe it was deliberate because they didn’t want to scare prospective hikers.
There were a couple of steep sections, all with lovely paths of course and the climb up and over Mount Fortescue was looming over the walk until we attempted it on day four. We were assisted with a cooler day and I felt the track gradient greatly assisted the ascent without too much heartbreak.
What about those cliff top paths?
The second thing that we were anxious about was the much-publicised cliff top aspect of the path. Both my sister and I are a little fearful of sheer drops and cliff top walking and from all of the publicity, we felt suitably warned. While our snapshots may have been a sensible step or two away from the edge you couldn’t help but be drawn into spending some time resting on the rocks admiring the stunning views. The track to the two capes that you actually visit doesn’t require carrying the full pack. It is a relief just to not be carrying the weight and this makes you feel a little more nibble. One of the families ahead of us took their smaller children to the end of the cape one by one, which seemed a sensible precaution.
Just take your time.
This is the advice I would give anyone setting out to do this hike. Once you get over the “am I fit enough to actually do this” stage then you realise that the hike is very doable and you can be in danger of rushing passed the famed scenery. While the huts are stunning, you are a long time finished the walk and there is only so much sitting in a deck chair to do. I realise that everyone hikes their own hike, but take some time to sit on those seats, read the book and look out for those mushrooms (or birds or flowers) that you have only just found out about.
Don’t leave without . . .
Don’t skip over the collapsible backpack on the packing list for the two sections undertaken without your full pack. Some emptied their pack into their liner and carried one pack with water and snacks for their party. I had a couple of sack backpacks with drawstrings that can be worn over both shoulders. This doubled as a stuff sack in the pack or something to carry food to and from the kitchen.
If you usually walk with sticks, then take them. A last-minute decision to throw in one pair between us was turned out to be handy. There is a lot of boardwalks where you need to decide if you want to carry or stop to put in your pack but they were definitely well used on the ups and downs
In our group, there was every type of hiking footwear being used, with some discussion about each. Most wore hiking boots as expected, many in trail running type shoes (as was our preferred style) and a couple of just plain runners. The track was as well formed as advertised so I figure stick with what you are most comfortable wearing for a full day hiking.
We settled on dehydrated food for all three nights, due to having no real idea about what we should be bringing. We had planned to do a last-minute fresh food shop in Hobart before leaving but were seduced by the Taste of Tasmania event and spent our night in Hobart eating and drinking instead of last-minute supermarket shopping. Crackers, Tuna, Cup a Soup and fruitcake rounded out our lunches. Many on the trip took advantage of the lighter pack weight and were far more creative so enjoyed fresh food. Red wine was our only real luxury item which we found in collapsible sachets. The pack weight vs nice food is one of those personal decisions. Remember you must carry out all of your waste (including food waste).
I was surprised that our departure group was younger than I expected. I figured that I was part of their target audience so expected that there would have been more ‘older’ hikers. A couple of families with older children and a lot of couples. Maybe this was because of the New Year timing or because of the advertising campaign being on social media. On day 2 and 3 you pass the group before and after and this revelled quite a few families with young children and a few retirees. I felt the hike may have been ‘too easy’ for most of our travel companions but they all seemed to enjoy the views and the cabins.
Getting to the hike
We chose to stay the night in Hobart and catch the morning bus to Port Arthur. We booked on Greyline which has a specific Three Capes transfer which meant I felt safe that we would be there in time for the first boat out. If you were considering the second boat transfer be assured that there is plenty of time to do the first days hike.
Which departure to book?
If you are one of those fit younger people who tend to walk a little quicker, then the earlier departure gives you the advantage of meeting the bus back to Hobart. If like us, you like to take your time and don’t want the stress of a deadline, then you will really appreciate the later departure. Either way, I am highly recommending having a plunge into the sea at the end of the hike.
The problem with the second departure is that travel to Hobart (without a car) is more difficult. We stayed the night at the Port Arthur Motor Inn., technically on the grounds of Port Arthur Historic Site. The bus from Port Arthur to Hobart doesn’t leave until 3pm which I hadn’t realised and had continuing holiday plans the next day. In retrospect allowing for a day using the Port Arthur pass and catching the 3pm but to Hobart would have round off the hike nicely. Instead, we organised a transport using Tasmanian Wilderness Experience and had a lovely chat with the driver John on the early morning trip back to Hobart.
I think this is a great experience, not just a hike, and would highly recommend it to either the experienced backpacker but especially those undertaking their first backpack experience.
If you are travelling around Tasmania and don’t want to spend the money or time on this hike, then the hike from Fortescue Bay to Cape Hauy would be a great way to see some of this landscape in a day hike.