Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Cape Hauy - 11th August 2008

Cape Hauy and surrounds as viewed from the Pirates Bay Lookout - 11th August 2008I first went to Cape Hauy (Walk Description here.) in 1987, and I'm pretty sure it was the 16th July. I only remember that because I was taken (even surprised and alarmed!) with how warm and sunny Tasmania could be in the middle of winter when you were toiling up a steep hill. Anyway, the sun didn't disappoint yesterday, and came out warm and strong whenever I needed to walk up a hill. To get a clear understanding of the layout of the Cape and surrounds, it's worth stopping at the Pirates Bay Lookout, just along the old highway which turns off before the new highway drops steeply to Eaglehawk Neck. From here you can clearly see the Cape, Candlestick, Totem Pole and Lanterns, a view which you don't get once you are on the Cape.

Cape Pillar from the Cape Hauy Track - 11th August 2008The Cape Hauy walk is very worthwhile, with the scenery and surrounds quite spectacular. The walk undulates a little, and the need for climbs and descents can surprise the unwary given the proximity to the sea. Fortescue Bay itself is a lovely place, obviously very well used - this is a favourite fishing and camping spot for many - but quite well maintained and managed. The drive in however has gradually become more and more a showcase for Tasmanian forestry operations, with vast swathes of forest demolished within clear sight of the road. The old track to Cape Pillar has been re-routed due to forestry operations across its old route. The National Park also shows the effects of fire escapes, both here and on the Forestier Peninsula. The track itself is quite liberally strewn with the debris from fallen trees, burnt a few years ago. If this is to become an iconic walk, I can see a bit of effort is going to be required to make the track more usable. However, over recent years, some useful lengths of planking have been placed across the plateau to mitigate the worst of the erosion we were causing, and reduce the dampness underfoot.

Cape Pillar from the end of Cape Hauy - 11th August 2008Once you descend onto the peninsula of Cape Hauy, the views to north and south open up quite dramatically. To the south, Cape Pillar makes a fine sight, with The Blade and Tasman Island visible. To the north, the coastline of the Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas, Cape Bernier, Maria Island and Freycinet are visible. On a clear day you may be able to see further than that. The track emerges at the end onto a small rock platform with a sheer 100m+ drop into the sea. Great care is required (especially if here with children), but this is the best spot for stopping and taking in the views and having lunch. Cape Hauy is home to the Candlestick and Totem Pole, both of great interest to climbers. They make spectacular viewing.

The Candlestick from the end of Cape Hauy - 11th August 2008The Candlestick stands next to the end of the Cape clearly visible just next to the lunch spot, and behind it are The Lanterns. The Candlestick is a very tall and thin sea stack, separated from the Cape and the Lanterns by the sea. Lots of information here about climbing these things. As their guide says, the crux of the climb up the Candlestick is the SWIM! You can scramble down the less steep side of the Cape towards the sea, and actually you can get within a few metres of the sea if you keep going. This requires great care in places, and of course you have to climb back up the 100m of height. It does however afford better views of the Candlestick and Totem Pole, and these start only a short way down. My perambulations yesterday had to be curtailed because I took a sidetrip to the Tesselated Pavement on the drive in and left myself rather short of time.

The top of the Totem Pole from Cape Hauy - 11th August 2008Next to the Candlestick stands the Totem Pole. The climbing guide says this about the Totem Pole: "It is over sixty metres tall, but only about four metres wide at the base. It sways in the wind and shudders with the crash of every wave." Go here for some more dramatic photos of the Totem Pole.

Cape Pillar from the Monument Lookout - 11th August 2008A final detour on the return is well worthwhile to the Monument Lookout. This stands on top of a vertical 150m drop to the sea, and requires great care, as the rocks are rounded and sloping, with good sized cracks between them. Views from here are to the rock stacks off Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar, and in fact very dramatically straight downwards to the surface of the sea. Great place to sit on a nice day.

View Larger Map


Mosura said...

Some great scenes there. The limit to my adventurousness was a visit to the Pirates Bay Lookout.

Mark said...

Thanks mosura, I wasn't very pleased with the photos from Cape Hauy - too many of them were a bit flat, midday cloudy light doesn't help.

Ivor and said...

Lovely work Mark. Your commentary and quality photography have made my mind up where i would like to go bushwalking next week while i am traveling in Tasmania - Cape Hauy.

On another note - i agree with your frustration about timber processing plants popping up spoiling the views, not to mention the ecosystem.

We were considering relocating to either Bruny or the Huon area, in the end we backed out. Even the pristine forests on Sth Bruny are not immune to timber harvesting. When ecotourism is one of the only growth industries down there you have to wonder why they are not more discreet.

Mark said...

Hi Ivor. I must say, I think the removal of forests in the Huon is not yet at the "I won't go there" stage, but I would certainly prefer that they didn't cut some of the best forests which are contiguous with the World Heritage Area. They are truly stupendous forests. Sounds like the forest industry is slowly coming around in Tasmania now.

Glad you like the Cape Hauy stuff, it's a great place. There is also this post about Cape Hauy from late last year. If you need any more info, feel free to ask, always happy to promote Tassie.

And, thanks for the nice feedback!