Tasman Peninsula Walks

The Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas are situated to the south east of Hobart. As well as being home to the Port Arthur convict settlement ruins, they offer the most diverse day walking options in Australia. The Tasmanian Coastal Trail is one of 35 fantastic walks in and around Tasman National Park, from which one can select a short easy family walks of 15 minutes right up ones with hard, steep, rough tracks for the more adventurous. The Cape Hauy Track falls midway between the two extremes.

To reach the southern area of the park, continue along the A9 towards Port Arthur. Access to Fortescue Bay and walking tracks to Cape Hauy, Cape Pillar and Waterfall Bay can be reached along the Fortescue Rd, a 12km gravel road.

Access to the south-western part of the park is also via the Arthur Highway (A9), and onto the Safety Cove Rd at Port Arthur township to access Remarkable Cave, Maignon Blowhole and walking tracks to Mount Brown and Crescent Bay. Further west, the access to the walking tracks to Cape Raoul, Shipstern Bluff and Tunnel Bay leave the Arthur Highway at Stormlea Road.

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.

Even though these walks are 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.

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Tasman Coastal Trail

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. The trail can be walked in small sections or a a big, long walk.

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.

Acess 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.

Walker Logbooks
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.

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.

Walk Times
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

Cape Hauy - 4 hours

The Cape Hauy Track leads from Fortescue Bay, just near the boat ramp. The walk passes through a variety of heath and woodland, with boronia, banksia, pultenaea and pimelia, among others, before coming to the magnificent views of steep cliffs and rock formations. When Cape Hauy comes into view, it looms straight ahead as a series of massive, slanted dolerite bluffs backed by the Tasman Sea. To the right is the next cape south: the prodigious Cape Pillar, with the mass of Tasman Island disguised behind it. The spectacular dolerite columns and cliffs at the tip of Cape Hauy are popular areas for climbing and abseiling. A pair of sea stacks  the Candlestick and Totem Pole  are used by climbers and climbing them is not, you may be pleased to know, a part of this 4 hour return walk.

A 65 metre high slender column of natural dolerite, the Totem Pole is in a deep, shady, chasm between the first of the two Lanterns formations and the headland of Cape Hauy. The Candelstick is a thicker, shorter chunk of dolerite which stands at the far entrance to the same chasm. In spite of its height, The Totem Pole is dwarfed by the surrounding rock towers and consequently gets sunlight for only a couple of hours a day.

Cape Raoul - 5 hours

Offering some of the most spectacular coastal lookouts in Tasmania, Cape Raoul is an excellent 14km return day walk within the Tasman National Park. With only a few steep sections, the walk is a comfortable 5 hours allowing ample time to relax and enjoy the expansive views of the surrounding Tasman Peninsular and further south to Bruny Island. The trail head for Cape Raoul starts at the end of Stormlea Road, next to the Raoul Bay Retreat where toilet facilities are available to walkers on a donation basis.

Cape Pillar - 1 to 3 days

The three capes of the Tasman Peninsula  Cape Pillar, Cape Hauy and Cape Raoul  can be visited on a three day walk or individually, each within a day or part day. The track to Cape Pillar leaves from Fortescue Bay, a short distance back up the road from the ranger station. It is very well made and climbs gently around the hill and across a few small gullies, emerging on the flatter hilltop after a surprisingly easy climb to Tornado Ridge before descending steeply to Lunchtime Creek. The views beyond Perdition Ponds are superb.

The Blade is not to be missed, and provides a supremely spectacular view of the surrounding cliffs and Tasman Island. Here the sheer dolerite cliffs fall 280 metres away to the sea below. Beyond The Blade, there are further lookouts, each with their own unique, spectacular view. Beyond Cape Pillar is Tasman Island, complete with lighthouse and 3 houses set high above the sea, as the island surrounded by high cliffs.

Three Capes Track

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service s largest and most ambitious track project, the Three Capes Track will be a 46km world class, multi-day walking experience on the Tasman Peninsula. It will showcase Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy, as well as the stunning natural features and scenery of the region including Australia's highest sea cliffs and spectacular ocean views. Leaving from the Port Arthur Historic Site and finishing at Fortescue Bay, the walk will feature hut accommodation and a boat experience. Walkers will be offered two experiences; walking independently and staying in public huts, and a commercially guided walk with separate private huts.

The Three Capes Track will be a hut-based, independent walk that provides mattresses and cooking facilities, meaning lighter packs for walkers, who will not be required to carry tents, sleeping mats or stoves. The walk will provide an achievable walking experience for a wide range of ages and abilities. The track is being constructed to Australian Standard Class 3, which means it will be well formed, mud-free and about one metre wide, which allows walkers to concentrate on the views rather than their feet.

The Three Capes Track will open in November 2015 with online-bookings being taken from September 2015.

Waterfall Bay to Fortescue Bay - 7 hours

Noted for encompassing some of the most stunning coastline in Tasmania, the Waterfall Bay to Fortescue Bay trail constantly astonishes hikers with its exquisite views and ever changing forest scenery.

Spread over 16km of picturesque coastline this trail is a solid 7 hours one-way hike. Drop off or pick up transportation must be arranged. Don t let logistics put you off; the effort in planning this walk is exponentially rewarded by the spectacular nature of the trail. This walk is nothing short of amazing.

Crescent Bay and Mt Brown - 4 hours

Tucked between the Remarkable Caves and Port Arthur, the Crescent Bay and Mount Brown track plays host to the most spectacular beach on the Tasman Peninsula, Crescent Beach. In addition to enormous dunes and beautiful crystal waters of Crescent Bay, the hike to the summit of Mount Brown offers hikers vast panoramic views of the peninsula s rugged coastline. Each section can be walked individually or together totaling 8km and roughly 4 hours excluding breaks.

Clarks Cliffs - 4 hours

Unlike the coastal based walks that the peninsula is renowned for, the Clarks Cliffs trail gives walkers an alternative and unique inland experience. The walk takes in wet eucalypt forests crowded with plant life and cliff top views of a majority of the peninsula. Track conditions differ throughout the walk making this 4 hour, 8km, walk an interesting challenge at times.

Waterfall Bay - 1 hour

Skirting the cliff line from the Tasman Arch car park, the trail to Waterfall Bay is a brilliant 1 hour return walk to via a hardened walking track. The trail follows the heathland for 300m before ducking on and off the cliff s edge. Multiple viewing platforms along the trail provide fantastic views of the tremendous coastline the peninsula is renowned for. Once at Waterfall Bay you are met with towering cliff dropping down into the ocean. Best viewed after heavy rain, the waterfalls at Waterfall Bay fall spectacularly from over 200m up.

Combined with a visit to the Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen or the Tessellated Pavements at Eaglehawk Neck this walk provides a great opportunity to stretch your legs and get a feel for the magnitude of this area.

Bivouac Bay - 4 hours

Leaving from Fortescue Bay, the Bivouac Bay trail hugs the beautiful rocky coastline of the Tasman National Park. Heading in the opposite direction from Cape Hauy, this lesser walked trail dodges a lot of the crowds and offers up a more relaxed walking experience. In summer, fantastic swimming and snorkeling is offered in each of the three bays passed throughout this walk, including a wreck dive at Canoe Bay.

This easy 10km return trail is a fantastic option for overnight beginners with toilet and camping facilities at Bivouac Bay. Alternatively it can be done as a 4 hour day walk. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful tranquility of this remarkable area.

Arthurs Peak - 5 hours

Hidden away on a seemingly forgotten section of the Tasman Peninsula, Arthur s Peak stands solemn. Reached via the Cape Pillar track from Fortescue Bay, the rough, overgrown and in some cases not existent trail takes 8km over lush button grass plains, before climbing to Arthurs Peak. From here you will be rewarded with a secluded and superb view of Crescent Bay to the west and the phenomenal dolomite cliffs of Cape Pillar to the east.

Shipstern Bluff - 4 hours

Shipstern Bluff is a great day walk regardless of the weather, with breathtaking views and occasional massive surf to witness. The magnitude of scale once at the bottom is utterly awe inspiring and well worth the hike down. The walk itself isn t too difficult with a steady climb over only a few km of a 8km total. If time allows, take 30 minutes to check out the Tunnel Bay sidetrack signposted along the walk.

Convict Coal Mine Circuit - 2 hours

Established in 1833, the Coal Mines site near Lime Bay provided a local supply of coal to the Port Arthur colony. Accommodating up to 600 convicts during its peak, the site is now reduced to a rich framework of ruins. Taking only 2 hours to complete, this circuit is a fascinating and informative stroll through gentle bushland. Starting and finishing from the picturesque grounds of the main settlement area, the circuit takes in the main points of interest within the Coal Mines Historic Site, including underground cells, the main shaft, the air shaft and many building ruins. While the walk time is reasonably short adding some additional time to explore each area is recommended.

Tatnells Hill Circuit Walk - 4 hours

This walk begins at the Waterfall Bay carpark. Follow the clifftops for about 15 minutes to Camp Falls, where the waterfall careens down the rocks. At Camp Falls, a sign points towards Tatnells Hill. The track climbs steadily and fairly steeply up the valley, criss crossing the creek, through wet rainforest, with its resident leeches taking some interest as we passed. Near the top of the ridge is a side track to Clemes Hill.

The flat rocks at the top of Tatnells Hill offer a panoramic view up and down the coast. You can either return the way you came or follow the ridge line up to Cashs Lookout, then back down to Eaglehawk Neck. At Cashs Lookout there is a hang glider launching pad with excellent views of Eaglehawk Neck and Pirates Bay. Cashs Lookout can also be reached by car via Pirates Road. 10 km.

Surfing Shipstern Bluff

Tasman Island (foreground) and Cape Pillar