Saturday, 3 October 2009

Cape Raoul - 10th September 2009

Cape Raoul from the top of the highest cliffs - 10th September 2009Cape Raoul is the south-western extremity of the Tasman Peninsula, a sort-of companion-cape to Cape Pillar, which is the south-eastern point. Unlike Pillar, Raoul does not require an overnighter. (Having said that, I know some people do Pillar as a day-walk, but it's a very long day and probably only achievable in summer without running.) The walk to Cape Raoul is around 5 hours allowing some viewing time. The walk starts at Stormlea, accessed by heading from Port Arthur towards Nubeena, then turning left (south) at the signposted road and following the signs to then end. Cars need to be parked where indicated, and not blocking roads or gates.

Dolerite columns at the southern extremity of Cape Raoul, including seal colony - 10th September 2009The track crosses private land at first and appropriate respect would be useful in ensuring the continuation of this access. The walk heads uphill first, and after about half an hour emerges on top of cliffs which are 400m above the sea. Just prior to this, the track passes a junction where truning right leads steeply down to Shpistern Bluff and Tunnel Bay, another worthwhile walk. The views from here are pretty impressive, both of Cape Raoul and back towards Shipstern Bluff, South Arm, Betsey Island and many other places. The track then climbs a little further before descending significantly through attractive mossy forest onto the Cape. Further views are obtained in places as the track winds along the western cliffs towards the end. At the far end, visitors should make sure they go to the end of both tracks to obtain all the views available. Particularly, the seal colony is visible from the end of the left fork (to the east). The seal colony is visible in the photo, and is on the light-coloured patch to the left of the extremity of the cape. If you don't know where to look, the height of the cliffs, and distance, make the seals somewhat insignificant and hard to spot. The dolerite columns at the end of the cape were used for target practice by the British Navy during World War I, and as a result it is a little more ragged than it would otherwise be.

Shipstern Bluff and high sea cliffs, visible from Cape Raoul Track - 10th September 2009It is important to note that this walk features stupendous cliffs, and none of them have the slightest fall protection, making them instantly fatal in case of a fall. It is important to very closely supervise children at all times, unless you are confident in their common sense. At times, high winds can make the cliffs more dangerous. Signs erected by Parks & Wildlife make it clear that your safety is your own responsibility in this area.

Cape Raoul is the first cape on the government's planned $20M "Three-Capes Walk", which will then take in Hauy and Pillar after using a boat to cross Port Arthur. I'm not sure what to make of this proposal, as many of the tracks around here were cut and maintained by volunteers over many decades, and the government's plan now appears likely to change and limit the access to and use of those tracks by Tasmanians just wanting to enjoy their national parks. No doubt it would be a good money-spinner, but I'm not sure the people who will come and walk it will be getting any sort of authentic experience - once we spend $20M to make our Three Capes attractive to tourists, is it really the Tasmanian bushwalking experience?

View Cape Raoul in a larger map


WHEN said...

Hi Mark, Thanks for your cheery commentaries on your walks, they are good fun! My friend Lyn and I did the Cape Raoul walk just before New Year and your notes about seeing the seals from the alternate cliff were spot on! Just beautiful.


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