Tasman Peninsula - Cape Pillar


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Friends encouraged me to go on the spectacular two day walk to Cape Pillar and offered to loan me a quality back pack as I had not previously attempted an overnight walk.  Two days later the weather forecast predicted three fine days to follow so I immediately decided to borrow their backpack for this iconic walk.  Early next morning I crammed the “necessities” into the backpack, eager to set off on my first overnight walk.  Armed with the knowledge that water was scarce on this walk I packed sufficient water (9 litres) and food to last for three days.  The extra day was to leave plenty of time for photography.  I have a ritual that dictates wine is essential with the evening meal so two bottles were decanted into plastic containers….enough to share with one or two fellow trekkers.

Alarm bells were ringing when I had difficulty lifting the backpack into the boot my car, but I choose to ignore them…. enthusiasm combined with a brain dulled by age….a hazardous combination.  (Subsequent computation revealed that the weight of the backpack was approaching 30kg)

My map indicated two routes to the Cape, so I asked the attendant at the Fortescue Ranger’s hut for an estimate of the extra time required to take the more picturesque route, which follows the coastal cliffs to Mount Fortescue.  Her hesitation before replying should have alerted me to her lack of acquaintance with this walk.  Nevertheless I returned to the car and struggled to lift the pack onto my back and set off.  Half an hour later I knew I was in trouble, but I was determined not to turn back.  Four hours later with aching shoulders, feet starting to blister and legs cramping intermittently, I was sure I was past the point of no return on my way the first camping spot at Bare Knoll.  I knew that if I was going to complete this walk I had to press on despite the pain and exhaustion.  The track was steep alternating between climbs and descents….both difficult.  To be honest I was impressed with my determination……or is that stupidity.
Darkness ensued when I finally staggered into the small camping area where I met Itamar, a young Israeli exploring Tasmania after completing his compulsory military service.  Having set out at 8:30am I had finally made it to the camping area at 6pm.  I gladly accepted Itamar’s offer to share his meal with me!  To tell the truth I was pleased he rejected my offer of wine as I was in desperate need of pain relief and sedation.  One bottle of wine was inadequate for the purpose so in desperation I contemplated not keeping the stove metho for cooking but instead drinking it to deaden the pain.

Before falling asleep I had completely reneged on my passionate “green” commitment and dreamt of logging this area and putting in a four lane highway.  The next day most of our equipment was left at base camp as we set off for Cape Pillar.  Sanity and my passion for the preservation of wilderness areas returned when I stood at the edge of the cliffs at the Chasm Lookout and the Blade.  I was absolutely “blown away” by the spectacular view once the “golden orb” managed to break through the mist and clouds!

That night we enjoyed eating the can of beef and the can of chicken that contributed to the excess weight that I had carried…..I savored the chardy.  During dinner a possum turned up looking to share our meal.  He put his head in the nearly empty can at my feet, trying to lick out the remnants.  I gave him a gentle pat on the back while his head was in the can.  Oww!!!!!!  Quick as a flash his sharp teeth penetrated my finger and I had to desist from whacking the little bugger as reprisal for my own stupidity.   I obviously have a lot to learn about bush walking and interacting with wild animals….don’t be fooled by the cute ones.

Cape PillarThe next morning we packed up and headed back to Fortescue Bay via the shorter route.  It took just two hours…..so much for attendant’s estimate of one hour’s difference between the two routes.  Admittedly my pack was 10kg lighter on the return journey.  The total distance covered was about 40km – much of it over difficult terrain.

As usual my photos were a great disappointment, although even the best photographer could not capture this vista with the exhilaration of standing on the edge of 300meter cliffs with a sheer drop to the rocks and ocean below.

Will I ever go on another bush walk ???????????????????????

If I do, I will prepare by reading the track notes, carry lighter equipment and dehydrated food.  Oh, and no more rituals……until dehydrated wine is formulated.
Reference :

Port Arthur

    Sited on the beautiful but remote Tasman Peninsula, historic Port Arthur was one of Australia's most infamous penal settlements from 1830 to 1877.

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  • barnes10 says
    looks and sounds awesome. Why does Tasmania get such a hard time from the Aussies
  • Sanela says
    wouldnt it just be awesome to go skydiving in the cape pillar, hehe. im loving it ! what a beautiful scenery alright , take me there. ! =)

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