'The things I didn't expect to happen when I went for a 'walking holiday' in Tasmania.’

Tasmanian Walking Co
Thanks to our brand partner, Tasmanian Walking Co

What’s that water on my face?

It could have been the rain that visited every day of our four-day walk on the Tasman Peninsula. 

It could have been. Because as sure as the spring sun would come and throw a giant’s fistful of sparkle onto the ocean in view at almost every step of the Three Capes Walk, there would be a moment of icy downpour. And then some wind. And then some sun again. And then maybe a little hail. And back to sun. 

Tasmania has a lot of weather. It also has a lot of natural beauty so striking, so powerful, so dramatic and diverse, it literally winds you as you lift your head from the track to take it in. 

But that’s not what the water was. 

I was on a public walking trail that’s been thoughtfully, pain-stakingly crafted along the high sea cliffs and through the wet and dry forests of Pydairrerme country.

The walk starts with a splash landing from a boat opposite Port Arthur, that most infamous of Tasmanian icons, and snakes around the capes to end at a white sand beach straight out of central casting, Fortescue Bay, 50 kilometres and three sleeps later. 

My great friend Penny and I were trekking with the Tasmanian Walking Company, who have been introducing people – some inexperienced, slightly nervous people, like me – to multi-day walks in Tassie for 35 years. You don’t have to walk the Three Capes Track with a private company, you can do it with your own group, carry all your gear and stay in the well-maintained public huts, managed by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife. But if you do choose to do it with Tas Walking Co, you’ll get all the peaceful wonder of the track with the comforting treat of staying in lovely eco-lodges, the only private accommodation on the Three Capes Track. And you’ll get your dinner and breakfasts cooked by your host, finish a day’s walking with cake and tea and wine and maybe even get a massage or plunge into an ice bath to ease the legs, halfway. And that’s what Penny and I did. It’s hiking, but it’s also an actual holiday. 


Image: Supplied.


Like (checks notes) absolutely everyone, we could do with the break from work, kids, life. Pen is a solo parent with (at least) two jobs. I am nowhere near as industrious but always perplexingly busy, running at speed. I’ve been wrestling with fragmented attention as I try to get a big creative project finished. It’s a common problem, of course, but we can all only worry about our broken focus for long enough to be bored by focusing on it. Apparently, experts are increasingly saying, nature can help.

So, into the wilderness we went, with our burnout and our frazzled brains, for four days of putting one foot in front of the other, far from home. Walking it out, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

So, what was that water on my face? 

Well. It was one of the things I didn’t think would happen when I went for a walk in Tasmania. Here goes:

1. I would love the walking. 

My partner Brent is a hiker. He loves nothing more than shouldering a backpack and heading off for days. Me, not so much. I like nature, I don’t love the slog. But that was before the Three Capes. 

The actual walking was harder and easier than I imagined. The modest weight on my back (my TWC-provided pack, filled with just my clothes, waterproof gear, sleep sheets and lunch, was around 10kg) was an unfamiliar sensation. 


But once I was in step with it, literally, I was seduced by the huff and puff, and rhythm of the steps… and steps. The pure fresh air infusion of being buffeted by winds and rains on cliff tops was an unexpected delight – laughter bubbling up from rain-blasted lips. Is there a better feeling than being drenched by the warmth of the sun, pushing the clouds aside right when you need it? Perhaps the sense of achievement of standing on the edge of everything, on a coastline so dramatic in its beauty, looking down at an ocean as calm and smooth as warming milk, and knowing you got yourself there, only by foot. 

Okay, Brent, I get it now. 

Image: Supplied.


2. I’d eat the greatest sandwich of my life. 

The two Tas Walking Co lodges along the track are tucked away from the track, completely self-sufficient, off-grid, and beautifully designed to be in harmony with their environment. The views from the living areas are spectacular. The lodges are warm and inviting. And they are staffed by a host who serves you glorious healthy meals and superior local wine and home-made cake and hot breakfasts. 

But perhaps the greatest things to pass my lips, on the trip and for the longest time, were the lunches. Because nothing tastes better than fresh meat and salad on a soft bread roll when you’ve been walking for hours. With a billy tea, brewed trackside, and eaten on your knee while looking at something beautiful. No other butty will ever compare. 

Image: Supplied.


3. I would be reminded how to sit in discomfort. 

There’s nowhere to hide on a hill climb. Slogging up stone steps, or the zig-zag path of a mountain’s curve, there’s just you at your own pace, and the sweat, and the panting. 

You can’t turn it off. There’s no giving up, and the guides give you their full support. Some people liked to know – are we halfway? Three-quarters? Are we nearly there? I found it better to get my head down and focus only on what was under my feet. That step, that rock, that moment. And get through. 

I didn’t think I would make it out to the final point of Cape Hauy. You don’t have to. It’s 3000 stairs, they say, down and down and then out and out and then up and up. It’s an optional add on. Impossible, I thought. 


One step at a time, it was possible. Here’s proof.

Image: Supplied.

4. I’d finally master the art of layering.

The walk really begins in Hobart, at the Tas Walking Co HQ, where you turn up with your gear and get issued a pack, a waterproof that will actually keep you dry and the guides check that you’re not going to suffer out there on the track. 

Layers are your friend, you’re told, over and over. And by day two of the walk, I understood this was not fashion advice (and Penny would be horrified by my immediate lack of vanity, embracing a lodge uniform of woolly socks and Birkenstocks that she found offensive to the eye). “Be bold, start cold,” was the advice for the hardy, because mornings were fresh but after 20 minutes on the track you’d need to strip down. I grasped the basic necessities. Something warm to get around the lodge in the evening. A cool layer for the hard climbs and the sunny moments. A mid-layer for the cool air at the top of a climb. A waterproof always within reach for the aforementioned downpours. 


A capsule wardrobe, my fashion friends would call it, although, obviously, they wouldn’t be seen dead in my fluro orange thermal. 

Image: Supplied.


5. I would get emotional. 

There’s something about nature that cracks you open. 

And there’s an accumulative effect, perhaps, of the rhythm of walking, that softens you. 

On the last day of our walk, our group of 14 – and our two expert guides, Mads and Claire – paused at a spectacular spot to look back at how far we’d come. We could see the track snaking away behind us, following the sea cliffs, up into the forest, wrapping around Mount Fortescue, which we’d just climbed up and down.

We were, Claire told us, all going to start walking to our next stop separately, with a large enough gap between us to lose sight of the walker ahead. It was a moment of mindfulness, she said. And we, with four days of camaraderie under our belts, maybe rolled an internal eye or two. But we were a polite crowd, and did as we were told. 

I can’t explain what happened next, other than we each set off, alone and in silence, through yet another spectacular shift of scenery. Into a wet sclerophyll forest, full of ferns and mosses so thick and luscious you wanted to curl up and nap on the rainforest floor. The sunlight pierced the canopy and bounced around like fairy trailwinds. Only your breath and the whistles of currawongs and suddenly, I was gasping, just a little, and then, weeping, just a little. 


At the big sadnesses, and the small ones, that we all carry around in our daypacks, real or imagined. Those losses, regrets and yearnings that suddenly seemed to want to spill out and spread themselves on the forest floor. 

I walked and I thought, if this land belongs to anyone I know it isn’t me. But I am so honoured to walk it, to have its energy leant to me, to have had the chance to be so close to this extraordinary beauty – a rainbow in the water, the sun glinting on rock pillars that change from white to golden to dirty dark red like rusty blood, and back again. Such beauty, just here, seeping into us with every further step. Seeping into us.

And I got to the group, and pulled myself together, and saw, in the other faces, that I wasn’t alone. The forest had worked its unblocking magic on us, even if we’d promised to carry out everything we’d carried in. 

That’s what the water on my face was. 

And I left the capes lighter.

Explore Tasmanian Walking Company's Three Capes Track and other walking adventures in world-famous Australian locations. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

Tasmanian Walking Co
The Tasmanian Walking Company invites you to embark on an unforgettable adventure along the Three Capes Track.
Explore rugged coastlines and ancient forests while enjoying the comfort of thoughtfully designed lodges - the only private in park accommodation. With highly trained guides and a commitment to sustainable tourism, the Tasmanian Walking Company ensures that every step of your journey will bring you closer to a state of equilibrium. Unravel, and return to life refreshed.
Discover our other walking adventures spanning East Coast of Tasmania, Overland Track, the Great Ocean Walk, Bruny Island, and the Larapinta Trail.
Isn't it time you step out of your comfort zone and do something for yourself?