November 30, 2001

Cape Hauy and Mt Fortescue

Marian Harradine Sunday, 30th September, 2001

7 hours.
Very scenic on a good day. Our aim was to walk to Cape
Hauy and climb Mt Fortescue from Fortescue Bay return.
Fortescue Bay is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula.
We set off at about 9.50,
After about 10 or 15 minutes we started climbing quite steadily for about 20 minutes after which it was less steep. After slightly under two hours of walking we got to the signposted junction which pointed to Mount Fortescue and Cape Hauy. We decided to walk to Cape Hauy first, as it was quite misty towards Mt Fortescue and we hoped that maybe it would clear.
It was 11.45 when we left the junction and we got to Cape Hauy at 12.30. The visibility was pretty misty there too but the cliffs were still spectacular. However we were unable to see much more than Cape Pillar in the distance to the west and a misty coast to the north. On good days one can see Maria Island to the north from there.
We left at 1.00 after looking around (mostly down) from various vantage points.
We got back to the Mt Fortescue turnoff at about 1.30. After walking for about 10 minutes we arrived a very nice lookout where we had our lunch. By then Cape Hauy was invisible because of heavy mist, as was Cape Pillar. By the time we had finished our lunch it was quite misty between us and the water below too.
We continued along the way, coming across some more great lookout points just past the lunch point. The track goes inland for a while and then returns for more cliff top views, one of a large arch where the sea has carved a tunnel through the base of one of the protruding cliffs. We are also supposed to have come to a point where there are views to Maria Island through a saddle in the hills to the north but didn't see that due to the mist. It was pleasant walking though.
We then started gradually getting into damp forest and also climbing steadily. We started to spot the odd leech and had regular leech stops to check ourselves. There were quite a few fallen trees across the track and the mosses on the ground and on the trees were very prolific. We seemed to have passed the leech territory after a certain point as in the last half hour until until we got to Mt Fortescue, when I found one on my boot, we did not see any more.
We spent a bit of time up on Mt Fortescue, which we reached at about 2.40. Mt Fortescue is really a high point on a cliff 490 m above Munro Bight. Cape Pillar did not seem so far away. A sign there said it was 5 to 6 hours walk away. We watched the mists moving rapidly around Cape Pillar and around us too.
We left to return to Fortescue Bay at 3pm. We had read of a shorter return via Mill Creek track and kept an eye open for it. We noticed a cairn after about half an hour's descent, and found a track we presumed to be the Mill Creek track. It was not very easy to follow as we kept having to look around for the ribbon markers. I also found that it was much more leechy than the other track up. I must have pulled off at least thirty of the blighters, in varying sizes, during that descent to Fortescue Bay!
The track veered off to the right after about half an hour and descended steeply through more open country, but not very pleasant walking due to the very rocky track and vegetation scratching my legs, I was wearing shorts. There was a lot of that cutting type grass which did its best to trip one up if it got caught around the boots. Leeches were still plentiful. Our vigilance with them paid off with none getting attached to us.
We eventually got to Mill Creek, when we were near the end of the walk. No water in the creek though. Throughout the six hours of walking we had not seen any fresh water anywhere. Just as well we carried enough. A good lesson learnt on our Western Arthurs trip during a heatwave.
We rejoined the main track close to Fortescue Bay, arriving back to the car at 4.45 so I guess we did save a bit of time coming back that way. However I think I would go the longer way back next time as that track was more pleasant walking.
We really enjoyed the walk, in spite of the lack of views due to the mist. There is a beauty in misty bush and coastlines too.


Actual Walking time: 5hrs 35min.
Fortescue Bay to Mt Fortescue junction:1hr 55min
Fortescue Bay to Cape Hauy: 2hrs 40min
Junction to top of Mt Fortescue: 1 hour
Total time taken 7hrs

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