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Cape Pillar, Tasman National Park

Cape Pillar, Tasman National Park

Introduction

Cape Pillar is the jewel in the crown of the Tasman Peninsula’s colossal coastline, with cliffs rising to 300m high. Once out on the headlands of Cape Pillar, remarkable views expand north to other rousing capes. Cape Pillar also affords the best mainland view of Tasman Island and its towering cliff edges. The later sections of the Cape Pillar Track follow the newly established Three Capes Track.  Camping is only available at Wughalee Falls, due to this walking times across the 2 days are 22km day 1 and 8km day 2.

Getting There


View Google Map Directions
From Hobart head over the Tasman Bridge and continue on the Arthurs Highway (A9), turning right at the main intersection in Sorell (sign for Tasmanian Peninsula). Continue towards Port Arthur, taking the first left after the Tasmanian Devil Park, onto Fortescue Bay Road. This 12km gravel road leads to the Fortescue Bay camping area. The Cape Pillar trail begins 200m back before the Rangers Office.

The Trail

Due to the location of the Wughalee Falls camp site, walking times across the 2 days are 22km and 8km. The following guide details the longer walk during the first day, though walking distances can be swapped.

Beginning 100m before the ranger’s office at the Fortescue Bay camping area, the Cape Pillar Track gently climbs into the forest. Zigzagging through the initial section, Agnes Creek is first landmark crossed 20 minutes in. Beyond the creek, the trail climbs further entering sclerophyll forests. For the next few km as you approach Snake Hill, the trail varies from dense forest to boggy buttongrass plains.

About 2 hours into the walk the Mount Fortescue junction is reached. This is where Cape Pillar Circuit and Three Cape Track walkers continue on to Cape Hauy.  Continuing on briefly, the side track to Wughalee Falls camping area is reached next. Wughalee Falls is now the only camping area available for independent walkers. Camping is no longer allowed at the other older sites.

The side track to Wughalee Falls camp descends quickly to the lower section of Retakunna Creek before crossing to Wughalee Falls. Six camping platforms are available here. Water is often available in the creek or in the tanks provided. Please be warned that leeches and mosquitoes are extremely common here.

Leaving larger packs at camp, the walk to Cape Pillar is best done as return day walk for the rest of the day. From Wughalee Falls and Retakunna Creek the trail climbs steeply back up to meet the main Cape Pillar Track. Continuing to the south, the track winds along the sheltered side of Tornado Ridge, descending down towards Lunchtime Creek where drinking water is available.

From Lunchtime Creek the trail climbs steeply for 300m before lessening as it reaches open grassy country at the top. From here the first coastal views are achieved, stretching west past Port Arthur and Cape Raoul before gently descending across the coastal heathlands of Ellarwey Valley.

Continuing on, the view which makes Cape Pillar famous is quickly reached. Views of Tasman Island and the spectacular cliffs of Cape Pillar, rising up to 300m above the raging seas below present themselves to you. The power of this place is outstanding, ungraspable and awe inspiring.

The track then descends gently to the base of the Blade. With the most outstanding views from anywhere on the cape, climbing the Blade is a must. The climb onto the summit isn’t difficult, but it certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. Once at the top, Tasman Island in all its rugged beauty is directly ahead of you. Sweeping views of the brutal dolomite coast surround you including Cape Hauy and Maria Island to the north.

Continue back to Wughalee Falls camp for an easy 8km walk the next day back to Fortescue Bay via the inland track.

Trail Map

Cape Pillar Map
Map for illustrative purposes only. Base map supplied by Land Information System Tasmania

Purchase the official TASMAP map here

Photos

Tasman Island, viewed from Cape Pillar

Tasman Island, viewed from Cape Pillar

Cape Pillar Track

Cape Pillar Track

View from the Blade

View from  The Blade towards The Chasm

View more Cape Pillar photos

Hazards and Warnings

The trail skirts close to cliff edges at points, please don’t fall off. Winds at Cape Pillar can get to extreme strengths and like the rest of Tasmania, weather conditions can change in moments so be sure to pack appropriately.

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