Mt Fortescue Circuit

I had planned to walk the track out to Cape Pillar from the Old Cape Pillar track and set up a two night camp at Wahugalee falls. For once I was happy for a brief bout of gastro type sickness before I left as it meant I only spent one night at Wahugalee Falls.

I left Hobart a little after 1pm and drove south to Tasman National park arriving just before 3pm. I grabbed my pack from the car and set off on the Old Cape Pillar Track. My destination, Wahugalee falls about 7km from the car. The walking was beautiful, afternoon sun, some clouds for atmosphere and a cool temperature made for a grand afternoon.

The Old Cape Pillar Track eventually meets the Three Capes Track after about 7km of walking. You notice the distinct difference in the condition of the track as you follow the track leading to Cape Pillar on your way to the Wahugalee Falls campsite turnoff.

The turnoff is about 400m after the junction of the old and new Three Capes track, It descends sharply and continues to do so until you reach the hardened tent platforms. I arrived at 5:30pm and it was getting dark, any lingering light from the sunset was drowned out by the rainforest canopy.

The photos above don’t do justice to the dark, leech infested, damp and awful site that is “Wahugalee Falls Campsite”. I found myself thinking that this was either deliberate to ensure higher traffic on the Three Capes official track or it was a practical joke. Something like Bill from planning at Parks proposed a silly idea to get a laugh from the oversight committee before going on holiday and when he returned a month later the project had begun.

I settled in for the night, got my mat and bag sorted whilst I waited for the water purification tablets to work. Half an hour later I got my food out and went to set up the stove only to realise that somewhere along the way I had acquired a puncture style gas can and my stove was threaded. Whoops.

After a dinner of beef jerky and a snickers bar I drifted off to sleep. I awoke the following morning to have the same thing for breakfast instead of a freeze dried cooked breakfast.

I broke camp quickly and made the climb back out of Wahugalee Falls campsite to reach the Three Capes Track again, this time to follow the highway up and over Mt Fortescue and around to Fortescue bay via Cape Hauy.

Not long, perhaps ten minutes or so later I got my first sighting of one of the Three Capes huts. They were impressive to say the least. There weren’t any people about so I spent a couple of minutes having a look at what people paid nearly $500 for. I quickly made the decision to come and do the Three Capes commercial track with my wife at some stage. I took the opportunity to top off my drink bottle at the outdoor kitchen and headed off.

The track began to rise as it ascended Mt Fortescue, the ascent was pretty easy, more of a grind upwards than a strenuous climb. There were no views to reward the effort, only a little clearing with a gravel helipad that provided a good spot for a quick break. Views came shortly after leaving the top with glimpses of the coastline through the trees.

I quickly caught up with the commercial walkers as we wandered through the forest. I was surprised with the volume and seemingly heavy packs they all had given how much is provided by the tour operators.

Moving past a group who were sitting at a lookout, I started downhill only to be surprised by a shrill shriek next to me. A walker who had gone ahead from the group to relieve herself didn’t expect anyone to come past. literally caught with her pants down. looking at my feet I continued on partially embarrassed for her and partially annoyed that she did not move more than two meters off the track and follow proper LNT principles.

Cruising around costal track I let complacency creep in and began looking too much at the view and not where I was going. Thump I rolled my ankle on an easy section of track and hit the deck, my ankle didn’t hurt but my left knee certainly did. This became the start of the hobble to Fortescue bay, luckily I only have about 3km to go. Given that I have been out to Cape Hauy a few times and that each step gave a sharp pain to my knee I skipped going out to the Cape.

I got to Fortescue Bay around 1pm and headed to Port Arthur to find a bed for the night.

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About Mark