I love a good hike. I suffer the camping, but I love a good hike. With its jaw-dropping coastal scenery, and comfortable overnight lodges, the Three Capes Track is my kind of walk. If you’ve been thinking about it, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The hike itself generally takes four days and three nights, and you’ll need to fly into Hobart, then drive to Port Arthur. We stayed at the Port Arthur Motor Inn. The departure point is the Port Arthur Historic Site and you can park there for the duration. The trip takes four days and is 46ks – the day split is 4ks / 11ks / 17ks / 14ks.
Conceived in 2005, the track was envisaged as a coastal version of the Overland Track. It opened two days before Christmas in 2015 and all of that hard work and planning is evident in every detail. According to the locals, there are few remaining places on Earth that feel so remote, so raw, and yet alongside that, you have this track that’s so well thought out and so well executed. How all this reconciles is beyond me, but it works.
Roughly about 50% of the track is boardwalk, but this doesn’t detract from its ruggedness. It just means that you’re free to enjoy the scenery without trip hazards and the responsibilities of navigation. There are also story seats and outdoor art installations along the way, prompting you to open your guidebook and read about where you are. Along the way we met trekkers of all shapes, sizes and ages and everyone found the track manageable. There were people with walking poles and full hiking regalia who’d prepared for weeks, and even a girl who booked three days prior and did it in trainers.
The overnight lodges are like something out of Grand Designs and each one maximises on the vistas at its location, especially the second lodge. The main dining cabins are heated and have lighting, cooking equipment and cooking utensils. The sleeping cabins however do not have lighting or heating. (You can’t sleep in the dining room, I asked!) If I did it again, I’d take dry shampoo, as there are no showers. At least, not ones you’d use in winter. At the second lodge, there’s an outdoor bucket shower – brrr!
My advice is to pack light. Whatever you carry in, you have to carry out (including rubbish). My pack weighed 15kgs. You need a sleeping bag that’s good to minus 20 degrees. There’s an excellent packing checklist on the website. Wear layers – we stopped every half hour to strip off and put layers back on.
For breakfast, I had sachets of oats, to which you just add water and then maybe a serve of tinned fruit. I also had sachets of cappuccino coffee. For the die-hard coffee crowd, you can now get a “MiniPresso” that you hand pump to make espresso shots.
The best of the lunches I saw was the St Dalfour “Gourmet to Go” range, particularly the Whole Grain with Beans. They’re only available online. Everything I took for lunch was inedible (sigh) and I lived off a bag of fruit and nut for 3 days!
This was my first experience with rehydratable food and it was hilarious. We had this for dinner each night – you pour hot water in and honey soy chicken appears! Back Country and Outdoor Gourmet are perfectly edible on a short trip. Stick to the rice dishes, they’re better than the pasta options. Cup-a-soups and hot chocolates are heaven after a cold days hiking. There were two girls in our group who took a cask of wine – why didn’t we think of that?!
In terms of when to go, we went in the dead of winter, which seems like a crazy choice in hindsight. I only had the basics, loaned to me by a friend a week prior, but I wasn’t kitted out for anything too extreme. It snowed, rained and howled all night every night, but it was somehow, inexplicably bright and sunny during the days. There were only 11 people on our trip, so I got my own cabin each night (the small cabins have 4 beds and the large cabins have 8). There’s a max of 48 people allowed through daily in the lodges, so if you went in summer, spring or autumn, the weather would be more predictable but the lodges would be more crowded and you’d be sharing with other hikers.
Lastly, if you haven’t been to MONA yet, definitely go, it’s fascinating. Check-in a bit early at Port Arthur and have a look around the historic site. If you have a spare day, congratulate yourself for all your hard work with a trip to Launceston to do a winery tour with Valleybrook Wine on Wheels.