Well it's finally arrived.....the final walk to complete my personal challenge of trekking the Tasman Peninsula. Saving the best for last we are setting off on the two night hike to Cape Pillar.....yeee!!!! By "we" I mean Jane, who has accompanied me on a number of walks and 2 newbies, Deb & Mike. The Labour Day long weekend in March had been earmarked for this trip so it was with much excitement we headed to White Beach for an overnight stay before embarking on our trek.
Cape Pillar is a wilderness area on the southeast tip of the Tasman Peninsula and normally requires overnight camping. It is quite feasible to complete the walk in two days but, in my opinion, does not allow you to do justice to the truly spectacular scenery of the Cape and Tasman Island, so therefore I had decided to undertake it as a three day walk. While the walk itself is not too arduous the weather in this area can be very unpredictable making conditions tough, so should only be undertaken by those with camping experience.
As per other walks completed this walk commences from Fortescue Bay, from the walking track marked "Cape Pillar". Follow this track for about 15 minutes over fairly level ground, through tall damp forest to a bridge across Agnes Creek. Beyond the bridge the track climbs steadily through drier forest for a further 20 minutes before it levels out into more open country.
We continued on, passing to the southeast of Snake Hill approximately 1 hour 20 minutes from Fortescue Bay. Passing the turn off to Arthurs Peak, continue on for a further 40 minutes or so to the Mt Fortescue/Cape Pillar intersection. The track crosses the sheltered eastern slopes of Tornado Ridge. The track now descends steeply into Lunchtime Creek 35 minutes from the Mt. Fortescue turn off. This is where we decided to set up camp.....fresh drinking water only 20 minutes away and a sheltered camping site. Another quirky fact is that we actually did reach this area right on lunchtime....haha!
After a good night's sleep we were all eager to undertake the long trek out to the Cape. The first stop was at Lunchtime Creek to restock our water supply. There is a boot cleaning station at the creek to prevent the spread of Phytophthora (root rot) into the sensitive vegetation on the Cape. Once our boots had been scrubbed we crossed the creek and climbed into open country which provides views to the west, then entered dry sclerophyll forest on the slopes of Purgatory Hill.
The track now climbs at this point to an area known as Hurricane Heath, where the vegetation has been forced to grow horizontally, hugging the ground because of the force of the prevailing westerly winds. The Cape is one of the windiest areas in the state thus the names of various spots along the Cape......Tornado Ridge, Hurricane Heath....luckily for us there was very little wind this weekend.
Our next stop, for morning tea, was at Perdition Ponds.....there is a great camp site here which could also be considered as a set-up spot....a very picturesque spot.
After a well earned cuppa it's onwards and upwards to the cliff edge, from here the track follows the cliff tops providing a number of spectacular views along the rugged coastline and to Tasman Island......now this is what this walk is all about, seeing part of our wonderful state for what it is.......fantastic!!
After about 1.1/2km the track enters a sandy and rocky area known as The Oasis, where there is often water, but it should not be relied upon in dry conditions. The track leaves the clifftops for a short distance before descending and regaining the edge near Trident Bluff. From here there are views to the north taking in Cape Hauy, Hippolyte Rock, and the more distant Maria and Schouten Islands while to the east are The Trident and The Blade.
Eight hours after leaving our camp we return full of wonderful experiences that will stay with us for a very long time.
The next morning we pack up our tents and head back to Fortescue Bay.
What a fantastic weekend, and what a fantastic way to end my little personal challenge of completing all the listed walks on the Tasman Peninsula. I've had the wonderful experience of sharing my passion for this area with numerous people either by accompanying me on walks or reading my ramblings.....hope you've all enjoyed it as much as I have.
Cheers to us all & to this wonderful place that we live in!