In the largest development project ever undertaken by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife, a new multi-day walking experience has been constructed on the Tasman Peninsula at a cost of $25.3 million. It’s so much more than a walk in the park.
Story by Ken Eastwood
Unlike pretty much every other bushwalk in the wilds of Tasmania, the Three Capes Track has been designed for non-walkers. The public huts – loosely modelled on some of the best public huts in New Zealand – almost feel like a resort in the bush. They have comfy mattresses, deck chairs laid out on wide, fine-grained timber decks with lavish views, board games and a library, and indoor and outdoor gas cooking facilities with everything you need. There are electric lights, USB chargers, up to 200,000 litres of fresh rainwater to drink at each hut and, when needed, heaters.
The superbly designed track has been smoothed so you don’t have to watch your feet but can look around at the stupendous views or the vegetation as it changes from flower-filled heathlands to tall forests. One of the briefs for the creation of the track was that it had to be intentionally beautiful. And it is – whether it’s the elegantly curved handrails along kilometres of duckboards, or the intricate stonemasonry stairs on the inclines.
In an extraordinary integration of art and nature, every 20 minutes or so there’s an exquisitely designed rest stop, usually with an unusual bench or seat designed by a student from the University of Tasmania. Each spot corresponds with a page in the comprehensive 80-page guidebook given to each walker, and walkers are encouraged to sit and read about the area’s history or geography or plants or animals, before calmly moving on. There’s no race to get to the next hut, and packs can be relatively light, with just a couple of changes of clothes, wet weather gear and food.
“If you’re fit and strong you can do each day in 3–4 hours, but that’s not the point of it,” says Robin Patterson-Cloudsdale, host at the first hut. “You get no trophies for getting to the next hut first. You’ll get a personal trophy if you take your time and get a lot out of it.”
Beside Robin on the sun-drenched deck, one of the first groups of walkers on the track chat and laugh, drink coffee, and soak up the views across Port Arthur to
Mt Arthur, the dunes of Crescent Bay and the jagged comb of Cape Raoul.
This story excerpt is from Issue #108
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2016