Day One | Port Arthur to Crescent Lodge
Start - Stewarts Bay
Finish - Crescent Lodge
Length - 6km (One Way)
Terrain - Sand, Rocky Path, Boardwalk
Vertical Climb - 199m
Time - 2-3 hours
Signed - Yes, Only One Track to Follow
Date Hiked - 19th October 2018
Best Time - All Year Round
The Hike - Welcome the Three Capes Lodge Walk, a four day, 47km experience on the Tasman Peninsula located on the SE corner of Tasmania. One of Tasmania's Great Walks, this scenic hike provides a great opportunity to see this amazing part of the country.
Hiking on the Tasman Peninsula can be experienced a few ways from the free day hikes starting at Fortescue Bay (or overnight staying at Wughalee Falls) to the four day public hut offering on the Three Capes to the full luxury Three Capes Lodge Walk. An opportunity came up to join my partners aunt and uncle on the Three Capes Lodge Walk through the Tasmanian Walking Company so these posts will be about that experience. While the accommodation options are slightly different, the track you walk on is still the same so if you are planning the Three Capes Track then you will see the same sections of the track. Our meeting point for the tour was the IXL building on the waterfront in Hobart where we met our guides for the trip (Lauren, Rohan and Giselle) and the other members of the travelling party.
While this is a "wine and cheese" hike, more so if you select the luxury tour version, we would still be carrying all of our gear minus sleeping bags and food so everyone was provided with a 50L pack for the journey. With all the formalities out of the way we took the bus out to the start point near Port Arthur. On the way we stopped off at the well named Pirates Bay for a group shot and some photos of this picturesque place. This narrow section of land has some interesting history with this area being used as a penal colony back in the day and all escape attempts had to go through this tiny sliver of land. It wasn't long before we reached the start point for our trip with a ferry ride from Stewarts Bay to the official Three Capes start at Denmans Cove. After a final check of gear we loaded up on the ferry and departed the almost tropical looking Stewarts Bay for the quick ride over the bay. Normally the ferry for both regular and luxury hikers takes you all the way out to the end of the bay for a scenic cruise but for whatever reason we just jetted over to Denmans Cove and missed out on that experience.
It's a nice introduction to the hike as you get to see the peninsula from a different perspective and also a closer look at Cape Raoul as the "Three Capes" hike only visits two of the capes on foot. The initial plan was for a full six day offering taking in all three capes but that was scrapped for the current four day itinerary as it was deemed friendlier in terms of time required. Being dropped off Survivor style (sadly no Jeff Probst) at Denmans Cove was a cool start to the trip with fantastic conditions greeting us and an unspoiled beach bordered by dry eucalypt forest. With everyone off-loaded we made our way down the beach to the creek that flows into the bay (be sure to take this route as there are nesting birds on the soft sand away from the water). The short creek walk takes you up to the Three Capes wooden artwork that provides a cool spot to take some pictures.
My big worry on this trip was being in a large group and having everyone bunched up all the time, thus making it hard to take the photos I want. This first stretch up the hill and into the forest confirmed my fears so I stuck to the rear of the group and managed to do alright out of the situation. In the end it didn't really matter for the day as I stupidly didn't check if my transfer had completed after this trip and half of day one and most of day two's photos. Thankfully Uncle Hal was also taking photos and he was kind enough to lend me some of his snaps to use on these posts. Walking through the first forest section you are never too far away from a view back across the bay to Port Arthur or further south to Cape Raoul in the distance. I have to admit this is not the Tasmanian forest I was expecting to see with a much drier feel, akin to something you'd find in the Perth Hills.
Another surprise was the range of wildflowers on display but given it was the middle of spring that shouldn't have been that big of a surprise. Every now and then we would stop and Lauren the main guide would tell a story or point out a new type of vegetation. We soon reached the lunch spot at Surveyors Cove, a small crescent bay with a rocky beach looking across to Port Arthur. We all spread out to enjoy our lunch (we had the pescetarian friendly salmon and quinoa salad) and marvelled at this idyllic spot. In and around the smooth rocks you could see a fleeting movement as the skinks reacted to every little shadow change. I didn't get one on camera but had fun sneaking up on them. Once we had finished up we all repacked our bags and headed up the biggest hill of the day on towards the public hut.
This is where the group started to break up as the incline separated out those of differing fitness levels. This calmed my photo anxiety (now redundant) but I stuck with Caris, Candy and Hal as we climbed up through the forest and to an open boardwalk section. With the trail flattening out it was a gentle amble to the public Surveyors Hut. An impressive series of structures overlooking the end of the bay and Cape Raoul, we were curious to see the luxury lodge if the public offering was this good. Several hikers were out in the sunshine enjoying the deck and although the Tassie Parks run Three Capes experience costs $550pp, you can see why when you get great facilities like this (sorry for the lack of photos). We kept going along the boardwalk section and were greeted with a Bennetts Wallaby sitting on the track. It wasn't shy and let the group get close for photos before hopping off into the bush where it stayed just off track and still in view. Before long we arrived at the spot where Lauren stopped on trail and pointed us into the bush.
To keep the luxury lodges as unobtrusive as possible, there are no signs for them and instead it is up to the guides to remember the paths into the bush. A fairly long path led us to the lodge and it was a great sight. A long wooden building housed the bedrooms, bathroom, store rooms and the kitchen/dining area culminating in a lounge providing sweeping views of Cape Raoul. Another lounge pod is found lower down from the main building, providing a quiet spot for you to relax and soak in the amazing views. A raised platform just near the entry gives another spot to take in the sunset and one I enjoyed a few times during our stay. After an eco mist shower and a cheeky afternoon wine we enjoyed a lovely dinner of tagine cooked up by the guides. An easy first day completed and a nice appetiser for what was to come.