The Three Capes Track, Tasmania

Wednesday, 27 March 2024

◄ Tony on Day 1 on the Three Capes Track between Surveyors and Munro Hut

Australia has some wonderful walking trails in every state, but most bushwalkers would agree that Tasmanian is the number one destination. The Overland Track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair – allow about a week – is probably the most popular longer distance walk in Australia. But Tasmania also has a host of shorter alternatives and if you’re not keen on toting a tent, cooking equipment and food several of these shorter walks can be done in varying degrees of luxury – ie somebody will look after you.


I’ve just done the Three Capes Track, of course the track has been in existence for many years, but the organized versions kicked off in 2015. You’ve got three choices for how to do the three day, 48km walk. You can look after yourself, carry a tent, food and cooking equipment and all it’s going to cost you are the daily A$22.35 Tasmanian National Park entry fees.

One step up is the Three Capes Track walk which will set you back A$595 for the four days/three nights and this is what I did. That gets you entry (valid for two years) to the Port Arthur Historic site, the boat trip over to Denmans Cove at the start of the walk, three nights accommodation in a comfortable bunk room for four to eight people in the three huts along the way. The huts can accommodate up to 48 people, so that’s how many are on the track with Three Capes Track each day. The accommodation is very modern and includes all the cooking equipment you’ll need. You just have to provide a sleeping bag, your food, a cup, a plate or bowl and eating utensils. At the end of the walk there’s a bus to take you back to Port Arthur. I organized transport from Hobart to Port Arthur and back with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, a 1-1/2 hour trip costing A$35 each way. On the way back they dropped me off at Hobart Airport, I didn’t go all the way in to Hobart.

The luxury alternative is with the Tasmanian Walking Company and will cost you A$3595 which includes your bedding each night, all your food and you’ll even get wine with your dinner! All you need to carry is your own clothes and even that can often be left behind while you walk out and back from your lodge to Cape Pillar. The organisers reckon you’ll be carrying about seven kg. Transport to and from Hobart is also provided. My walk notes that follow are for the middle range walk.

▲ At the end of the walk you will have climbed 1110 metres.

▲ The boat from Port Arthur – I took the 2pm departure, there’s an earlier one at 1130 – cruises down the bay (we spotted a sea eagle) and loops back to Denmans Cove where you have to wade ashore. It’s not much more than ankle deep. There’s the group I came over, with getting their boots back on before starting the walk.

▲ Surveyors Hut, Night 1

Day 1 is a stroll, once you’ve climbed away from Denmans Cove the trail undulates along the cliff edge to Surveyors Hut with views back across the bay to Port Arthur. The track notes suggest 1-1/2 to two hours for the four km walk. Easy.

◄ Phone charging, this was at Munro Hut

Modern living, we want to charge our phone and indeed with Telstra I was in phone range almost all the way. The huts are really well equipped although you sometimes had to join a queue to plug in your devices.

▲ Munro Hut, Night 2

There’s more ups and down, but more up than down, for the 11km walk on Day 2. This is the hut with the best views and it’s also the only place where you can get a shower along the walk, amazingly it is a hot (well warm at the very least) shower. The luxury walkers get showers every night for their extra A$3000.

◄ Munro Hut to Cape Pillar, Day 3 walk – a hell of a lot of money has gone in to grooming the track and the many km of boardwalk are a clear indicator of how much the track has cost, over A$25 million it’s said.

Spectacular, what else can you say about today’s 19km walk and although there are more ups and downs nearly all of it is pack free. You can leave your backpack at the Munro Hut and just take a daypack for the walk out to Cape Pillar and back. When you get back to Munro and pick up your backpack it’s only an hour’s walk to the Night 3 hut at Retakunna. My backpack with my food (muesli for breakfast, quick cooking noodle dishes, tea bags, trail mix and so on), my clothes and my sleeping bag weighed right on 10kg.


it was carry-on size for my flight with Rex from Melbourne to Hobart. Jetstar, with their stingy seven kg carry-on allowance, would have been a problem.

▲ Tasman Island from Cape Pillar

As you approach the end of Cape Pillar there are more and more spectacular views of Tasman Island with its lighthouse and lighthouse keeper cottages, even though the lighthouse is now automatic so there are no permanent lighthousekeepers on the island. Just before the cape the really spectacular views are from The Blade, a steep rocky ‘blade’ where you can clamber to the top. OK, I didn’t stand on the final rocky pinnacle.

▲ Park benches, this one is named Sex on the Cape, Day 3 walk from Munro Hut to Cape Pillar – the track features lots of park benches and other ‘artwork’ created by Tasmanian artists. So there’s no shortage of places to take a break.

▲ The descent, followed by an ascent, from the track junction to Cape Hauy on Day 4

The final day’s walk is 14km starting with the steepest climb on the walk, the ascent of 483metre Mt Fortescue. A bit further along the two hour side track from the track junction out to spectacular Cape Hauy and back also features a lot of stone steps down and then back up again. And then again on your way back. But again you can do this walk without your backpack, walkers dump their bags at the track junction for the sidetrip. Cape Hauy overlooks the Candlestick and the Totem Pole, if you’re lucky you might see serious (you would need to be serious) rock climbers at work. From the junction it’s not much over an hour to the end of the track at Fortescue Bay and the bus collection point. It was a nice warm day so a swim from the beautiful beach at Fortescue Bay was just ‘refreshing,’ not downright ‘chilly’!

OK Truth in Advertising. The Three Capes Walk only takes you to Two Capes – Pillar and Hauy. You do look across to Cape Raoul, but if you want to make it Three Capes you need to spend a night at Port Arthur and do that one yourself. I planned my Three Capes food very well, all I had left over at the end was a bit of trail mix, some dried apricots and a muesli bar. Quite a few walkers confessed that they had ‘overcatered.’ I certainly didn’t go hungry and my food costs for the three nights and four days – three breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners certainly wouldn’t have cost that much. The night before the walk, however, I decided to eat out somewhere flash. I didn’t want to just sit in my hotel room by myself. Fico sounded like a really interesting new Italian-flavoured restaurant and only a short walk from the hotel and, when I arrived, they had a spare place, but warned me it was a tasting menu and was going to cost me A$117. OK, fair enough, I’ll go for that I said and, at the end of the meal discovered I’d misheard the number – it was A$170 not A$117. Add three glasses of wine and a tip and dinner the night before the walk cost me A$250, pretty much half the cost of the whole walk! Never mind, it was terrific food from the carrot gazpacho via the sea urchin risotto all the way to the blueberry granita. The next glass of wine was at Hobart Airport, after the walk and before I boarded my Virgin Australia flight back to Melbourne.