The Tasman Peninsula is a short 90min drive from Hobart, even less from the airport. The peninsula is both home to Australia’s most infamous penal colony, the historic Port Arthur Penal colony and now also the Three Capes walk.
This walk is Tasmania’s premium coastal walking experience as it traverses one of Australia’s most dramatic and inhospitable landscapes. The original settlers chose this location in part due to the insurmountable prospect of escape. Fortunately, we benefit from the well-maintained tracks as we escape through the same dense forest and up and over the most dramatic escarpments that kept the early inhabitants trapped.
The Tasman Peninsula is one of the most striking parts of Tasmania and the walk incorporates all the best parts including the iconic towering sea stacks, the highest vertical sea cliffs in Australia. Wander over the 190 million-year-old dolerite columns and via a great variety of landscapes, as the track winds in and out of temperate rainforest heathland, dry woodland and over striking sections of coastline.
The turquoise waters and white sandy beach of Fortescue Bay and Waterfall Bay area are a welcome change-up from the cliff-hugging walking experience that characterises most of the track. The massive seas at Cape Hauy, Cape Raoul and the amazing Shipsterns Bluff, one of the preeminent big wave surf locations worldwide, is an amazing side-show to this already amazing adventure.
What’s more whales and dolphins are regular visitors to the areas as are albatross, sea eagles, peregrine falcons, diving gannets and cliff-nesting cormorants. All make this their home in or around the ocean surrounding Tasman Peninsula National Park.
Walk each day with the confidence that you’re being looked after by one of Australia’s oldest walking companies and two experienced guides. The self-guided version of Three Capes walk allows you to walk with your own friends, when you want at your own pace. What’s more you’ll stay in comfort, eat chef-prepared 2-course dinners, cooked breakfasts and enjoy lunch at some of the most epic locations Australia has to offer.
Stroll will provide you with all the comforts you need to have a splendid walk and relaxing experience. You can choose either a self-guided or group-guided Three Capes walking holiday. You will stay in our favourite accommodations, taste the delicious fresh produce of the region. You get to traverse the trails with nothing more than a light day pack, and we will take care of the rest.
Cape Raoul was named by the French explorer, Bruni d’Entrecasteaux for the pilot of his expedition, Joseph Francois Raoul. This French team visited Tasmania’s east coast in 1792 while searching for the lost French expedition of La Pérouse (which had come to grief in the Solomon Islands, but this wasn’t discovered until decades later).
Dolomieu Point was named by the d’Entrecasteaux Expedition in honour of the French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu (1750 – 1801). This is also who the Italian Dolomites are named for!
The dolomite columns at Cape Hauy, at the east end of the Tasman Peninsula, were likened to a rank of organ pipes and named after the respected French scientist and mineralogist, Hauy.
Port Arthur, the former penal colony is now one of Tasmanians iconic tourism destinations. It is located in between Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul near Carnarvon Bay. It was named after George Arthur the lieutenant governer of Van Diemens Land. The settlement first started in 1830 as a timber station and morphed into a penal colony.
FLORA & FAUNA
The pine-like trees on the track with woody nuts are Tasmanian Native Cypress Pines (Callitris rhomboidea) – the scientific name describes the interesting shape of the nuts quite well! You may also encounter Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos in this area. These fabulous birds mainly eat seeds including gum trees, banksias, hakeas, and grass trees. They also dismember seed cones looking for wood-boring insects. The birds here belong to a subspecies found only in Tasmania (Calyptorhynchus funereus xanthanotus).
The exposed, rocky high points on the 3 Capes Track are dominated by hardy alpine shrubs like Pinkberries and other heath species. In January, the track may be lined with pink wildflowers. These are Trigger Plants (Stylidium). The name refers to the pollination mechanism of the flowers. When an insect lands on one of the blooms, their weight triggers the spring-loaded white “floral column” (fused stigma + anthers) to dab it with pollen, & at the same time reciprocally collect any pollen that the insect may already be carrying. The tall, spindly looking plants alonmg the walk, with strappy leaves arranged in spiral clusters are Pineapple Candleheath, a Tasmanian alpine endemic (Richea dracophylla).
You will also see many conifer-like trees with long, thin, drooping green branches on the last section of the walk. Depending on the season, these trees may have small, fleshy, red-orange fruits with a green seed embedded in them. These are known as Native Cherriesalso (Exocarpus cupressiformis) which are edible when ripe. Give one a try when you are there! They really are quite tasty.
You will likely see many Banksias in flower on the Tasman Peninsula. These are Silver Banksias (B. marginata – also found in VIC, NSW, ACT, and SA). They may grow up to 9m in height but will start to produce flowers as soon as they are over 1m tall. Silver Banksias are significant producers of nectar for birds and insects in this region. You will hear the “eee-gypt” call of the Crescent Honeyeater around the Banksias.
The Tasman Peninsula and the 3 Capes area is a haven for wildlife from the tiniest of Pygmy possums to wombats, Seals, Whales, Dolphins, Tasmanian Devils and wallabies.
Long-Nosed Fur Seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) are becoming more common to the area now they are not hunted. Approx. 75 – 100 individuals may be hauled out here. During the 1800s, these fur seals were hunted almost to extinction for their thick fur coats. They are now slowly recovering. This species is found in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and New Zealand. In Tasmanian waters, it mainly occurs on the west and south coasts. Only a small number of long-nosed fur seals (also sometimes known as the New Zealand fur seal) breed on remote islands off the south coast. The total population in Tasmania is 350 – 450. About 100 pups are born annually. Australia-wide, the population is estimated to be 58,000. Their main prey includes redbait, jack mackerel, and lantern fish. They also eat seabirds such as little penguins and shearwaters.
There are two wallaby species in the peninsula, the endemic Tasmanian pademelon found nowhere else on earth and Bennetts wallabies. They are easy to spot as you walk as their numbers are fairly high now that they are protected.
The Tasmanian bettong and Long-nosed potoroo, also both macropods, are more likely to be seen at night, possibly around your accommodations. Macropods are the common name given to marsupials that generally have largish hind legs.
Through the day you are likely to spot Echidnas, Blue-tongue lizards sunning themselves and a wide variety of other fauna. Echidnas are monotremes, egg laying mammals, the other being platypus. Their spiky exterior is the defence to any threat from predators.
Birdlife includes Tasmanian rosellas, Tasmanian native hens and White-bellied sea eagles which breed on the peninsula. If you look hard owls and tawny frogmouth roosting in the trees, even through the day.
Common wombats are prolific in the area, although generally nocturnal, they can be seen before dusk scratching away searching and foraging for food. A koala’s closest living relative they can actually grow up to 1.3m long and weigh up to 35 kgs. Interestingly they have been clocked running at speeds of 40 km per hour and their poo is cube-shaped.
Tasmanian devils have a fearsome reputation but they are actually shy. These were reintroduced by Tasmanian Parks. They are a marsupial with sharp teeth and an otherwordly howl, which led to them to being called a devil by the early settlers. Devils are carnivores and can weigh up to 14kgs, however they mostly eat carrion, but they do hunt down snakes, birds, insects and fish.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning the common brushtail and ringtail possums, they are loving it on the peninsula, with limited predation, previously mostly by humans, they are easy to spot in the evening in eucalypt trees that surround the accommodations.
Transport from Melbourne and on the track:
The climate on the Tasman Peninsula and the Three Capes is temperate.
The 3 Capes self-guided walking holidays is available year-round. However, October through to May are a more suitable and popular time to walk. This is still a lovely time for walking, but it is Tasmania so your need to be prepared with at least a good quality wet weather jacket. Our local guides who live on the Island swear that June and July are also good times to walk also as the weather is often crisp and there is no one around. Please see our What To Bring section in FAQ’s for more information.
For more information please see the Bureau of Meteorology’s information concerning average temperatures and rainfall levels throughout the year.
As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:
Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to: