Please note: Restricted access to the Cape Pillar Track for construction of the Three Capes Track
Updated November 2014
As construction of the Three Capes Track has now begun on the Cape Pillar peninsula, it is necessary to restrict access to the Cape Pillar Track in the interests of public safety. The Parks and Wildlife Service has made every effort to provide some level of access without compromising public safety or track construction proceeding as efficiently as possible.
Access to the Cape Pillar Track and the Arthurs Peak Track is restricted on Mondays through to Fridays while track crews are working and helicopters are delivering materials. Walkers are permitted to walk the tracks on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Mount Fortescue Track from Monument Lookout (including the Retakunna campsite) is completely closed and access restricted due to track construction in this area.
Walkers are asked to respect this closure for their own safety. These arrangements will be reviewed as construction progresses and there may be further restrictions as required in order to complete the project for its planned opening to walkers in November 2015. Email enquiries or comments can be sent to the PWS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tasman Coastal Trail follows along the cliffed coast-line from Waterfall Bay through to Fortescue Beach, out to Cape Hauy and on to Cape Pillar. The track lies with the Tasman National Park.
Walkers will need to be prepared by taking water, food, tent and wet weather gear. Walkers should allow 3-5 days to complete the trip one way - although the trip can be cut short if time frames are insufficient or the weather is not agreeable to walking.
When to walk
The months of December-April have long daylight hours and warmer average temperatures. These months are recommended for walkers inexperienced in Tasmanian conditions.
However, walkers are warned that rapidly changing weather conditions can occur at any time of the year. The Tasman Coastal Trail can be subject to very cold, storm-force southerly winds.
Generally, the weather in the east of Tasmania tends to be milder than the south. In winter months you can expect to have a temperature range of 4 deg. Cel. overnight to 10 deg. Cel. during the day. In summer the overnight low averages around 11 deg. Cel. and the daytime high around 27 deg. Cel. You should get the latest weather forecast before starting your trip and pay attention to the winds for the south east. Tasman Peninsula is exposed to the weather - especially Cape Pillar where names such as Tornado Ridge and Hurricane Heath give walkers fair warning of the conditions you should be prepared for.
Weather forecasts can be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology.
What to bring
Even though this walk is on the East Coast of Tasmania you still need to be prepared for all weather types. Ensure that you have the appropriate gear for an extended overnight walk including warm clothes. The wind can be very strong on the Tasman Peninsula so warm, wind proof clothing is ideal. Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent, first aid kit, a map and compass are all essential. A rain jacket with hood should always be carried. Of course you should also be optimistic and expect some days of sun - so make sure you take breathable clothing, sun hat and sunscreen.
For more detailed information see our Essential Bushwalking Guide web pages.
The Tasman National Park Map and Notes (1: 75000 Tasmap) is an essential item for your walk. It is available from outdoor shops and can be ordered online at TASMAP.
Private publications on the Tasman Peninsula include the guide book Peninsula Tracks by Peter and Shirley Storey.
Access to the start of the track
Most people start the walk on the northern section of the Tasman Coastal Trail at Waterfall Bay. The northern end of the park can be accessed via the Blowhole Road (C338) turn-off just after Eaglehawk Neck. This will take you to Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen. Along the C338, a sign-posted gravel road to the right leads to Waterfall Bay.
You can also cut your trip short by starting and completing your walk at Fortescue Bay taking in Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar.
Private cars can be parked at both Waterfall Bay and Fortescue Bay. More information on Tasman National Park and attractions can be found in the Visitor's Guides to National Parks.
Visitors wishing to use public transport or tours to access the walking track should visit our web page on Access to Tasmania's National Parks, Reserves and Walking Tracks.
Accommodation near the start of the track
Hotel, motel, backpacker and cabin accommodation is available. Contact the Tasmanian Travel Centre on (03) 6238 4222 for further details.
Camping sites are also situated at Lime Bay. There are basic campsites and pit toilets. No water is provided. Fuel stoves are recommended here. Caravan access is available.
The Fortescue Bay Campground is located off the Arthur Highway. Bookings are necessary. Water, toilet, cold shower and fireplaces are provided, and wood is available for sale. There is a gas bbq in the day use area. Caravan access is available.
Private companies operate guided tours in this national park. Contact Tourism Tasmania
for details on the individual operators.
Park and permits
The payment of an entry fee is required and all money raised by fees goes directly towards the maintenance and protection of Tasmania's national parks.
A variety of passes are available, including a two-month backpacker pass that is valid in all of the State's national parks. Passes can be bought at all Parks and Wildlife Service offices, including the Fortescue Bay campground, and Service Tasmania outlets. See our park fees web page for more information.
Bookings are not required to do the Tasman Coastal Trail, and no other permits are required.
Let someone know before you go—leave details of your planned trip with a reliable friend or relative. If this is not possible, a trip intentions form can be completed and left with the local Police station.
Use walker logbooks to enter details of your intended walk. But be aware that these are not checked regularly, and a search will only be mounted if someone reports you as lost or overdue.
There are no huts along the track. It is essential that a tent be carried. You should only pitch your tent at established sites. Camping sites exist at the following locations: Waterfall Bay, Bivouac Bay, Fortescue Bay, Wughalee Falls, Bare Knoll, and Perdition Ponds.
Walk times given are what the average walker would expect to travel in good conditions. If you are new to bushwalking or the weather conditions deteriorate you can expect to travel for longer times.
- Waterfall Bay to Bivouac Bay - 6 hours
- Bivouac Bay to Fortescue Bay - 2 hours
- Fortescue Bay to Cape Hauy - 2 hours
- Cape Hauy to Wughalee Falls - 6 hours
- Cape Hauy to Bare Knoll - 8 hours
- Bare Knoll to Cape Pillar - 6 hours return
- Bare Knoll to Fortescue Bay - 6 hours
There are not a lot of water collection sources along the Tasman Coastal Trail. Ensure that you carry a large water bottle and a water bladder if possible. When you do come to an area for water collecting along the track always top up your water bottle. When you are approaching the end of your day's walk also fill up your water bladder at the first water collection site you come to.
Of course, the water within our national parks is not treated. It may therefore not meet the National Health and Medical Research Council's Guidelines for drinking water. The Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services thus advises that as a precautionary measure, untreated water should be boiled (1-3 minutes) before drinking or being used for food preparation. Other forms of water treatment (iodine, water filters) may also be used.
Compost or pit toilets are available at some of the camping sites (Bivouac Bay and Fortescue Bay). Where possible please use these toilets. To assist the composting process, do not put rubbish (such as tampons, sanitary pads or condoms) in the toilets.
Where there are no toilets, go at least 100 metres away from any creek or stream and the track. Carry a sturdy hand trowel and dig a hole at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep, otherwise animals may dig up the waste and scatter the toilet paper. Bury all faecal waste and toilet paper with soil.
Do not attempt to burn toilet paper as this practice is unlawful and could start a bushfire.
Fuel Stove Only Area
The Tasman Coastal Trail is within a Fuel Stove Only Area and campfires are not permitted. There is one exception at Fortescue Bay. You will need to carry a fuel stove for cooking.
Keep on track
Wade through the centre of boggy sections of track. This is the best way that walkers can help with stopping the sprawl of muddy areas. We recommend wearing gaiters to protect yourself against the scrub and mud.
The preferred maximum party size is 4-6 people. Large groups can be difficult to accommodate with tent sites and have greater social and environmental impacts.
Phytophthora root rot
Phytophthora cinnamomi exists on the Tasman Coastal Trail. Bushwalkers can help stop the spread of this deadly plant pathogen by starting their trip with clean gear, staying on the formed tracks, cleaning gear before moving on to the next campsite and using the wash down station provided at Lunchtime Creek.
All items used in the bush need to be scrupulously cleaned. Items that require a scrub include boots and gaiters (the most risky items), tent floors, groundsheets, tent poles and pegs, trowels, packs, waterproof coats, trousers, and legs.
Carry something for collecting water so as to limit the number of trips that need to be made for water (a well rinsed, empty wine cask bladder is recommended). Do not dig drains around tents.
Use hot water and a scourer to clean plates and cookware. Soaps and detergents are not welcome in the bush. Despite their name, biodegradable products still impact on water-life. Dish washing should be done 50 metres away from water and the waste water scattered.
Keep Wildlife Wild
The smell of food will have native animals raiding your pack, rattling your cookware and riffling through your rubbish. All food, rubbish and packaging should be sealed within 2 bags. Wrap food in a plastic bag and then store in a larger stuff sack. At night stow your food bag securely in your packs.
Do not feed animals. Processed food is not part of their natural diet and, in some cases, can lead to the death of native animals.
All rubbish must be carried out with you. Rubbish includes cigarette butts! Used sanitary pads, tampons, condoms and baby nappies are items of litter and must be carried out.
Even though this walk is on the east coast of Tasmania you still need to be prepared for weather conditions. Ensure that you have the appropriate gear for an extended overnight walk including warm clothes. Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent, first aid kit, a map and compass are all essential. A rain jacket with hood should always be carried. Of course you should also be optimistic and expect some days of sun - so make sure you take a long-sleeve shirt, sun hat and sunscreen.
Spotting a snake can be common within Tasman National Park. Snakes are shy animals and will usually get out of a walker's way rather than attack. Wearing sturdy boots and a pair of gaiters will protect your lower legs. Most bites occur when people try to kill snakes (this is illegal). If a bite occurs keep the person at rest, lying down. Do not wash or cut the bitten area. Apply a firm pressure bandage (not a tourniquet) from the bite site, all the way down the limb then back up the limb. Death from snakebite is very uncommon. You do not need to catch or identify the snake as the same antivenom is used for all snake bites.
It is always wise to carry a first aid kit.
For information on overnight walking in Tasmania, including what to take, what situations to be prepared for and where to get more detailed information see the Essential Bushwalking Guide web pages.