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Hobart Walking Tours
Three Capes Track versus Overland Track

Three Capes Track versus Overland Track

The new Three Capes Track just south of Hobart on the Tasman Peninsular has been a huge success since it opened in December 2015. While there are many excellent walks in Tasmania, the Three Capes Track and the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair are the two walks getting the most attention for visitors seeking a multi-day walking experience. Three Capes TrackHaving recently completed both walks I thought it would be a good idea to provide you with a quick comparison of the key features, costs and logistics. This is great especially if you don’t have time to do both, but can’t decide which walk to choose. For me, doing both is definitely my number 1 recommendation! Note: the descriptions below are based on my trips in December 2015 for the 3 Capes Track and March 2016 for the Overland track. The Overland track is mostly in Alpine terrain and should only be done in winter by walkers who are experienced in hiking and camping in potentially severe alpine conditions.

The Reviewers

Robyn is the owner of Hobart Walking Tours, and took along her 3-in-1 husband: best friend, best walking buddy, best sounding board – we are in our mid 50’s with medium fitness levels. We rarely do multi-day walks. There are fully supported options to do the Overland Track staying in private huts with catered meals but our preference was to take the minimal cost option.


Trip Comparison

Feature 3 Capes Track Overland Track
Length of walk 4 days / 3 nights covering 46km;

typically 6 days / 5 nights over 65 km.

Difficulty Easy to moderate The dry track is well formed and generally wide and level enough for 2 people to walk side by side, so you can spend more time enjoying the view than watching where to put your feet. There are steep sections but all have well-built steps. We found it generally no more difficult than the 2 to 4 hour day walks we have previously done on easy tracks   This track is significantly more difficult with much steeper and longer climbs and longer hours carrying a heavy pack so there is a rewarding physical challenge to this walk.
Terrain Spectacular sea cliff walking with amazing views on every day. It’s not what we would call wilderness but it is wonderful walking along one of the most impressive sections of coast we have seen anywhere in the world. The walk felt more formal and ‘keep to the track’ than the Overland Track with its wide variety of side trips but that also is part of the style of the 3 Capes Track. This is true wilderness walking with helicopter pads for emergency evacuations to remind you are a long way from civilization.  With walkers only going North to South we were able to walk on our own for much of the walk which added to the blissful peace and quiet of this extraordinary place.  Lots of side trip options of varying difficulty level and usually weather dependent.
Gear If the joy of walking with a 15 kg backpack with all the gear to be fully self sufficient in the great outdoors is not quite your thing then the ability to do this walk with a much lighter 10kg back pack may well be music to your ears. Day 3 out to Cape Pillar is also a return trip to Munro hut allowing you to just take a light day pack for what is the longest day in distance.Apart from a backpack, sleeping bag and good walking shoes or boots the rest of the gear is basic walking clothes (including  wet weather), hut clothes, food, water bottle, toiletries and basic safety gear: 3CT Packing List While there are huts along the way they have no cooking facilities and there is no guarantee of a sleeping spot indoors, so all walkers must have full camping and cooking gear including tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and fuel stove. Buying or hiring gear can add a considerable additional cost to the trip. There are commercial groups you can join that provide all the gear. I regularly use Recycled Recreation based in Hobart for good quality second hand gear.
Accommodation ‘Huts’ is probably not the right word for accommodation on the 3 Capes Track  – ‘chalets’ would be more accurate. The bunk beds in shared rooms are very comfortable with a thick mattress. The kitchen has all the basic cooking equipment and utensils you will need which saves lots of weight in your pack. You still need your own bowl, plate, cutlery and cup. The supply of books and games, people to meet and the odd bottle of wine snuck into the pack lends to social evenings. A highlight for us was the outdoor shower at the Munro hut –  enclosed  enough for privacy but still feeling like a shower in the great outdoors. Unlike the 3 Capes track, the huts are very basic which is in keeping with overall style of the Overland Track:  simple wooden bunks or sleeping platforms plus tables and benches to sit on. BYO air mattress and bring a tent as there is no guarantee you will get a spot to sleep in the huts. There are large modern huts like Pellion and older much smaller huts like Kia Ora. All have their own charm and all can be noisy at night (hence why many people choose to use their tents on the wooden platforms in preference). The huts were just as social as on the 3 Capes Track (we learned a wonderful way to play a version of cribbage with just a deck of cards.)
Logistics for getting there and back The 3 Capes Track is a breeze with a shuttle bus  included in your ticket which takes you from the end of the walk back to the start point at Port Arthur, where there are options to connect to public transport back to Hobart. These are fairly limited but reliable and easily planned. This can be the greatest frustration of all in planning an Overland Track experience. The biggest tip we can offer is to book your transport to the start of the walk at Cradle Mountain and the pick up from the end of the walk at Lake St Clair. Only then should you book your ticket for the starting day of your walk. It’s a 3 hour trip by road from the end of the walk back to Cradle Mountain. There are 2 or 3  private shuttle bus services, they charge a minimum fee around $400 for the trip which then gets shared by the number of passengers. We couldn’t find any useful option to just use public transport from either Hobart or Launceston.
Cost The 3 Capes Track costs $495 per adult and includes:·        Site entry to Port Arthur valid for 2 years ·        Pennicott Wilderness Journey boat cruise ·        Bus transfer back to Port Arthur ·        Track guide book with stories annd interpretation about what you are seeing The Overland Track has a range of associated costs which you may or may not be able to avoid (apart from the Track fee)·        Track fee: $200 per adult (1st Oct to 31 May) ·        Ferry from Narcissus Hut to Lake St Clair  – optional option that saves a 17km walk. $40 per person if 6 or more – up to $240 for one person only ·        Shuttle between Lake St Clare and Cradle Mountain: typically between $140 and $200 depending on numbers We paid a total of $340 each, including shuttle transport.

Both trips were highly enjoyable although for different reasons. The Overland Track was tough in parts with  a heavy pack and minimal comforts but we will absolutely do it again. The Three Capes Track was more of a treat to ourselves than a challenging walk.  Another consideration is the history connected to the 3 Capes Track – it does get you 2 years’ worth of access to the World Heritage Listed Port Arthur historic site, which is an excellent addition to extending your contact with Tasmania’s convict history. Which ever of these two walks you choose, of course you would need to start out with a walking tour of the history of Hobart to get the big picture first – so come and see us before you take a walk on the wild side. Hobart Walking Tours bookings