Mt Fortescue Loop - Three Capes Track, Tasman National Park

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Introduction

We recently put up a post on a long day walk we did to Arthurs Peak on the Three Capes Track, Tasman National Park. The post described how a significant section of the much-vaunted Three Capes Track can be walked as a day walk while only paying normal National Parks fees, as opposed to the cost of doing the multi-day walk and staying overnight in cabins. Click here if you want information about the full fee-paying Three Capes Walk.

 Graeme taking in the view from arthurs peak

Graeme taking in the view from arthurs peak

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That post involved a loop at the south western end of the park, coming in via the Old Cape Pillar Track and accessing Arthurs Peak and the new Three Capes Track from the north east. It then heads east across the Ellarwey Valley, where it links back up with the Old Cape Pillar Track.

 on the three capes track

on the three capes track

This post is essentially part two, covering how to walk the south eastern end of Tasman National Park and the Three Capes Track. It involves another long day walk, this time taking in Mt Fortescue and, potentially Cape Hauy (the third of the Three Capes), before returning to the starting point at Fortescue Bay. See map at the bottom of this post.

Old Cape Pillar Track to Retakunna Hut

This walk starts from the same point as the Arthurs Peak walk. Park at Fortescue Bay in the day use area and proceed up the Old Cape Pillar Track, (which starts on the road into the park just prior to the Rangers’ Station). After 2 hours you will reach the junction with the new Three Capes Track.

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We took a left turn down the Three Capes Track reaching Retakunna Hut, the third and last hut on the multi-day walk, after 10 minutes. We checked out the hut, which still looked very new and swish.

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If we’d continued on the track past Retakunna Hut we would’ve reached Mt Fortescue in the most direct way, but we also wanted to have a look at the campsite at Wughalee Falls for possible future trips.

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This is a free site which allows walkers to access Cape Pillar, the Blade and views of Tasman Island. To do this we had to back track to the Cape Pillar track then walk for round 10 minutes towards Cape Pillar. We then reached a signposted side track to Wughalee Falls campsite.

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The track dived down sharply, and it was slippery after recent heavy rains, so the going was fairly slow. For those of us with dodgy knees it was a bit of a trial and the 850m that was “advertised” felt longer.

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But eventually we got there.

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The campsite is not new, as the aged signage indicates, but the camping platforms look like they are a relatively recent addition.

There is also a toilet and two small water tanks.

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Mt Fortescue

After a lunch break we continued along the track, knowing that it will which eventually rejoin the main Three Capes Track part way up Mt Fortescue. This meant that we didn’t need to back track.

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We passed the top of Wughalee Falls which was just a small cascade. To get a better view of the full falls we would have needed to have made a tricky climb down a steep and muddy ledge, so we thought better of it. With heavy forest surrounding the falls it is doubtful that we would have had a good a view anyway.

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As it turned out we needed all our energy for the slog up the long, heart pumping rise until we finally reached the main track.

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Note: Having now done the Wughalee Falls campsite track detour we would say, avoid it unless your plan is to camp, and if you do camp, come back out via the way you came in. With a heavy pack full of gear the section up the side of Mt Fortescue would have been even harder.

 the Wughalee Falls track up to Mt Fortescue

the Wughalee Falls track up to Mt Fortescue

Having survived this ordeal we took a well earned break at the top of Mt Fortescue.

 cape pillar with tasman island behind

cape pillar with tasman island behind

Even though it was getting late the view of Cape Pillar was pretty spectacular.

And Home

After getting our breath back we continued down the well-made track.

 cape hauy

cape hauy

We passed the Cape Hauy turnoff (around 4km/1.5 hrs from the top of Mt Fortescue to here). The sun was getting ready to set. We’d been to Cape Hauy many times before so didn’t feel cheated that we didn’t have time to do it today. However, it is well worth doing, so, if this is your first time in this area, allow for the extra two-hour diversion (an hour each way) to go out and back. Click here for a post on the Cape Hauy walk we did a couple of years ago.

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We arrived back at Fortescue Bay just after dark. The whole walk had taken us around 7 hours. But if you eliminate the extra length added by going via the Wughalee Falls campsite and our detour to check out the Retakunna Hut, the walk can probably be done in around 6 hours.

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Having done this second long day walk in the Tasman National Park we’d now walked the bulk of the Three Capes Track and only had to pay the usual park entrance fees.

Ken