TASMAN COASTAL TRAIL – TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
Duration: 4 days from Waterfall Bay or 3 days from Fortescue Bay
Grade: T2 – Narrower but distinct tracks, which can be muddy in some places, in pristine natural environments. Facilities are minimal and you will encounter few other walkers. These moderate tours require a reasonable level of fitness. Note, however, that a short steep section of this tour (over Mt Fortescue) is graded T3.
Tasman National Park – Tasman Peninsula
You can find some of Tasmania’s most dramatically beautiful coastal scenery on the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula, in the south-east of the state. The Tasman Coastal Trail, one of Tasmania’s Great Walks, follows the spectacular 300m dolerite cliffs along the coastline from Tasman Arch to Fortescue Bay and out to Cape Pillar. A well defined track follows the coast and is fairly dry under foot. You will see an array of wildlife; seals, penguins, dolphins and whales at various times, with Australian fur seals using the rugged coastline for breeding and resting, and fairy penguins nesting along the foreshore.
The Tasman Peninsula enjoys a mild year-round climate: warm and dry in summer, cool and temperate in winter. You will experience breathtaking coastal views from the cliff tops up and down the coast, beautiful little bays (Bivouac, Canoe and Fortescue), and small offshore islands (The Lanterns and towering Tasman Island). This tour is never far from the coast, yet still offers a sense of isolation and adventure in a relaxing and non-challenging environment.
Itinerary and Tour Description
Day 1: Base Camp Tasmania to Fortescue Bay
We leave Tasmania Wilderness Expeditions’ own rural retreat, Base Camp Tasmania, and drive through the picturesque rural landscape south-east of Hobart, to arrive at the Tasman National Park at the infamous Eaglehawk Neck. We start our walk start at the popular natural attractions of Tasman Arch and the Devils Kitchen. From here it is on to the splendid views of Waterfall Bay where our walk really begins, with more views along the way of The Candlestick area of Cape Hauy, passing Thumbs Point with its small island and then Dolomieu Point. After following the dolerite cliffs for several hours the track descends to the lovely Bivouac Bay, and then just around the corner to Canoe Bay with its sunken remains of the steamship William Pitt. From here it is not far to Fortescue Bay, with its majestic white beach, where we camp for the night. If the weather is right, you can catch a swim before settling in for the night.
Day 2: Fortescue Bay to Munro Bight via Cape Hauy
After a refreshing early morning swim, we resume our walk from the site of an old timber mill at Mill Creek through light open forest along the coastal shore, skirting the sea. After a short climb to a ridge we pass the Mount Fortescue junction, our route after lunch, and then a natural sinkhole from where we spot the more spectacular cliffs of the headland of Cape Hauy (pronounced “HOY” and named by D’Entrecasteaux after a noted mineralogist) and its adjacent sea stacks. We will marvel at the The Candlestick (rising a sheer 120m from the sea) and The Needle both detached sea stacks serving as popular sites for adventurous rock climbers (and if we are lucky we may even see a climber or two on these wonderful natural formations).
After lunch we retrace the track to the junction of the Mount Fortescue track, with Cape Pillar dominating the view. For the next 3km we climb steeply to Mt Fortescue (480m) through a wetter eucalypt forest, with wonderful tree ferns and mosses predominating in the understorey. From a rocky outcrop at the summit, (480m) we get more stunning coastal views before we descend to our campsite near a small creek at the Munro Bight.
Day 3: Munro Bight to Cape Pillar
From Munro Bight we head out towards the ominously named Tornado Ridge. Here, in these true wilderness conditions, names such as Tornado Ridge and Hurricane Heath are clear indicators of the ferocity of the ocean gales that sometimes make life treacherous for fishing boats and cruising yachts alike that frequent the waters below. We lunch at Lunchtime Creek (of course) and then on to Perdition Ponds to setup our evening campsite.
Day 4: Cape Pillar to Base Camp Tasmania
We get off to an early start to make the most of the day out on Cape Pillar. With light day packs we head to the Cape for the morning and marvel at the views of the Blade, Yankee Rock and the mighty spires of Cape Pillar itself, as well as one of the main highlights of the trip – Tasman Island. (During the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race some yachts even sail through the Tasman Passage between Tasman Island and the coast – a bold manoeuvre!). We return to our campsite to for lunch before packing up and retracing our route to the junction of the Mt Fortescue and Cape Pillar tracks. We take the Cape Pillar track to Fortescue Bay, flanking Mt Fortescue to the west, and then meet our bus for the return trip to Base Camp Tasmania.