Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
May 2024
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Cape Pillar revisited and 12 of 12, February 2018

Due to an unexpected twist in my life (which may get explained here when I have decided how I want to do it), a Scout hike that had been a bit up in the air very suddenly had to become real for southern Tasmania’s February long weekend. A frantic planning meeting was held with the two Scouts responsible for organising the trip, and the documentation was submitted and approved in record time.

The Scouts planned to visit Cape Pillar, but the track and campsites had changed since my last visit, necessitating a shorter first day (with hardly any photos), a very long but lightly loaded second day (captured in a few photos), and a new outbound route on the third day which coincided with the 12th of February (and thus is represented here with 12 photos).

Day 1 was just a pretty stroll in very warm conditions while carrying a big pack, concluding with an unexpectedly long and very steep 1km downhill off the main track to our campsite. Miraculously, I then managed probably my best night’s sleep in months, and probably the best ever slumber on the “first night of camp” ever (I find it notoriously difficult to sleep well on first nights). On the morning of day 2, we left our camp set up and took only the essentials for a big 20km day walk out to the end of Cape Pillar.

It was a very windy and overcast day but the views were still amazing.

We weren’t sure if it would be safe enough to go out onto “The Blade” (the highest point of the distant narrow ridge in the photo below); the wind was hitting the cliffs below us and channeling up over the top with such force that when one of the kids tossed a pebble over the edge into the wind it just slowly wobble-fell, like an open sheet of paper.

We met a few “hut walkers” (people doing the Three Capes Track but staying in fancy-schmancy huts (I say, with the superior air of one who carried tent, stove, and sleep-mat)), and they reassured us that the wind was not too bad out on The Blade. So, with caution, we proceeded to the summit to enjoy its airy views.

On our return journey we were starting to feel a bit footsore, as the track has been “hardened” to cope with the greater number of tourists and includes what, at 2km, must be one of Tasmania’s longest board walks, amusingly decorated with a stone snake’s tail at its start and a stone snake’s head at the other end. We also saw an echidna, blithely foraging for ants on the side of the path. We were glad to get back to camp, rest our weary feet and have some dinner.

Day 3, the 12th, dawned sunnily through the trees. The first photo below shows my tent pitched on the wooden camping platforms that reduce the impact on the environment, while the second shows my trusty 30-year-old Trangia, complete with its original yellow plastic accessories bag (which has disintegrated enough that I am probably justified in throwing it out).

Having packed up we set off, and some 500m later finally reached the actual Wugharee Falls for which the campsite is named. The lack of water flow is rather evident here, as it had also been back at camp, where the creek—though trickling enough that we were confident enough to drink the water—wasn’t full enough to make a continuous above-ground flow.

From here the track winds up through a lovely mix of gum/eucalyptus trees and cutting grass. This particular part of the track tends to be used only by the camping walkers, and so is a softer-on-the-feet narrow winding path that is sometimes almost invisible in the landscape. In the second photo below you may be able to see the orange arrow of a track-marker, with the track a gentle indentation winding up to it in the foreground.

Eventually the track climbs very steeply through some leech-ridden rainforest, before rejoining the main track on the upper slopes of Mt Fortescue. I had anticipated that Mt Fortescue was going to provide an unpleasant experience—a long steady uphill—but what I hadn’t expected was how beautiful the bush would be. I hadn’t realised that there was such a big and beautiful tract of genuine temperate rainforest at this location.

At the summit of Mt Fortescue and as we descended again there were great views back down to Cape Pillar …

… and north to Cape Hauy and Hippolyte Rock.

The kids decided not to head out to Cape Hauy; they were already heading towards the 40km mark all up and, despite the incoming cloud, they were more enthusiastic about the idea of finishing up with a swim at Fortescue Bay.

Of course, it was slightly colder than they anticipated, but I can assure you, from experience, that once you got in it was really very refreshing and a nice way to finish the trip.

Note: Although the photos suggest that the Scouts were with us, they did most of the walk on their own and looked after themselves, with myself and the other adult (one of the parents) catching up with them from time to time. The only time we were together for any extended time was at the end of Cape Pillar and on The Blade where some extra supervision near the massive cliffs was just a sensible precaution.

1 comment to Cape Pillar revisited and 12 of 12, February 2018

  • looking from over the pond

    I loved the ROCK and thought that was magnificent with the light house there in the center and the beautiful bush area you trodden in. Do I assume this is a national park? ps.I got cold seeing the kids in the water.

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