Three Capes Track #2: Surveyors to Munro

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February 5th 2017
Published: January 23rd 2019
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We were up bright and early as was pretty everyone else doing the trail. It was a bit of a brisk morning and there were some large dark clouds in the sky, which we were hoping wouldn't start raining. We made breakfast and once that was finished, we headed out to start our hike for the day. Today's distance was only 11 kilometres, so it would be another fairly easy day. Our backpacks weren't too heavy as we didn't have to carry a tent or cooking appliances, but carrying a sleeping back and three days worth of food was still a lot more than I normally carry. We made our way back from Surveyors to the main track. We were soon greeted with lovely views of the ocean and the peninsula. We could see where we had started from the day before. We really hadn't come very far. I was quite enjoying the dark and cloudy skies as they made the landscape seem quite moody.

It didn't take long for us to reach our first 'Encounter' site. This one was called 'Punishment to Playground'. It described Point Puer, which was just across the water and had been a children's prison for around 3,000 boys. It was known as a harsh place with strict discipline. The booklet described how the area changed once the penal settlement was shut down. People flocked back to the peninsula for reasons of pleasure such as bushwalking, surfing, sea-kayaking, scuba-diving and rock-climbing. It's quite difficult to be in such beautiful surroundings and think of all the bad things that happened to people here before. It was only another few hundred metres to our next 'Encounter', which was more light-hearted and entitled 'Who was here?' The seating in this spot was small cubes and I think they were meant to represent scats or poo. They were very neat looking poops in any case. We had been walking through wombat country as the terrain was made up of dry open eucalypt woodland with low shrubs and grasses and old fallen logs and branches. These are former are easy for wombats to walk through and the latter for them to shelter in. However, wombats are not the only mammal living in this area, there are 23 species of native land mammals in this area. Most of them are pretty elusive, only venturing out at night, so the only way for us to tell what mammals have been about, is too look for their poo. The booklet contained a handy guide of some of the mammals and the type of poo that they produce. We were able to put this into practice later on the trail as we did run into some poo, using the pictures we could analyse which animal it was from.

It had started to rain, which was a but gutting as I hate the rain and I was worried about my stuff getting wet. Luckily, it wasn't too heavy and seemed to just be a quick shower as it soon stopped. 'Fire is Food' was our next 'Encounter'. I found that quite ironic in the rain as on a day like today, it would have been hard to start a fire. I loved reading the stories and finding out more about the local area. The walk made me appreciate the nature, but it is great to find out more details about the area. At this rest spot, we read about a fire that occurred in 2003. I would mostly think that fire is a bad thing especially after reading about all the destruction the bushfires caused in Port Arthur, but the Tasmanian Aborigines knew differently. They were able to use fire as a tool to manage the land and their food as fire stimulated growth of their favoured plants, which also attracted the animals they hunted. Regular burning also meant that the vegetation was kept low, so they could hunt and move more easily. It was also interesting to read that ecological burning and fuel reduction burning as used in the area to prevent and reduce bushfires.

Again, we didn't have to walk far to reach our next stop, 'Messy is Good'. it was funny to read that the early British settlers thought that the Australian bush was too messy and that the trees were rather spindly and ugly. Idiots! Also artists would modify their paintings to make the bush look prettier. Thank goodness people's perspectives have changed. Now these messy layers of bushland are viewed as dynamic and they show how these different layers combine to provide food and shelter for a diverse range of animals that inhabit the land. I rather like the spindly looking trees as it adds variety to the landscape and the white branches contrast against all the greenery. The track rose gently as we made our way to Arthurs Peak. From here, we had some magnificent views of the surrounding coastline. I only wish it had been a sunnier day as it would have made Crescent Bay look even more beautiful. I loved the rock formations that we could see too. As we left Arthurs Peak, we could see big pillars of dolerite in the distance. We soon reached our next 'Encounter' spot 'Jurassic Crack'. I loved the name! The name uses 'Jurassic' as the dolerite rock that makes up the cliffs we could see and those that we were standing on was formed in the Jurassic Period, around 185 million years ago. That is so long along, it awes me how much has happened on our planet and really how insignificant we are as individuals. About 50 kilometres below the Earth's surface in the upper mantle, the southern hemisphere continents were drifting apart and as they moved stresses and fractures developed in the older sedimentary rocks. Magma forced its way through these rocks and widened them, but it rarely reached the Earth's surface. It cooled several hundred metres below the Earth's surface and formed the polygon shaped columns that we see nowadays due to the older, softer sedimentary rocks being worn away over the course of millions of years. I loved how the coastline had changed and the views were stunning. I liked seeing the waves crashing off the rocks below.

'Cloud Forest' was our next 'Encounter' and we read up the microclimate on this section of the trail, we were in a very small section of wet forest, which is caused by the particular shape of the sheer sea cliffs below sucking up cold air, condensing it, and keeping this area cooler and often shrouded in mist. The seats here were shaped like little toadstools as fungi like damp places, like this spot. The trail alternated between the regular track and the boardwalk. We came to 'One Small Patch', which detailed some of the flora of the area. The landscape and vegetation across the Three Capes track is so varied. We had already walked through moorland, low eucalypt scrub, high eucalypt scrub, wet forest, heathland and we would be crossing into low windswept heath next. The next part of the track was all out in the open and since it had stopped raining it was nice to be able to see for miles around. We were now in the Ellarwey Valley. We sat on the lovely, large bench at 'Where the 'ell are we?!' to read up on the area, while looking out to sea at the same time. The places names were mainly given by Tim and Reg, who went on 'bush-bashes' in the 1960s. These were the first recorded walks to Cape Pillar from Fortescue Bay. It's cool to think of these people exploring the coastline long before the first track was cut in the 1990s. It's not something I could do.

We came a cross a sign warning us about helicopters in the area. This part of the track was part of their flight path. The ranger at the hut had warned us about them. They fly supplies in and out to the ranger stations and get rid of the poo. We had been told that today would be a no-fly day, so we didn't have to watch out for them. We headed along Tornado Ridge until we came to 'Love in the Woods', which not about romantic love, but familial love and the places that animals use in the forest to make their homes and raise their families. We came to the turn off for Retakunna and Munro. We were heading to Munro, which was about an hour away, but tomorrow we would be heading to Retakunna. The sign said that we still had about an hour to go. We reached our final 'Encounter' for the day, 'The High Life'. it was great to sit on the bench and gaze up at the beautiful trees above us. The silhouettes against the sky were gorgeous. We read about the birds that call these trees and others along the Three Capes Track their home. Sea-eagles can be common in this area and there is a nest in this area, we tried to look for it, but we couldn't see it. Also smaller birds inhabit the trees, too. They feed exclusively from the canopy and part way down the trees.

We walked further through the bush and came upon a ranger that was tending to the area. It was nice to chat to her and find out that we weren't too far from Munro now. When we arrived at Munro, we headed straight for the viewing platform that they've built. This platform gives great views over the Munro Bight. There's even a set of binoculars in case you want a closer look. While the cabins were identical to those at Surveyors the layout was different. The kitchen/dining hut was at the front and the sleeping cabins were located in the rear. We met the friendly ranger, when we headed inside and he told us that the kettles were on, so we would be able to get a nice warm cuppa as soon as we had dropped off our backpacks. Once you are assigned a room on the first night, you keep it for the other two nights, so we had the same two bunkmates again. They were a nice older couple from Northern Queensland. After a nice warm cuppa, we headed over to check out the toilet block. It was quite a way away. Definitely no getting up for a pee in the middle of the night, it would be too far and too cold for me. The toilet block was next to the helicopter landing site (the helipad), which brings in supplies for the ranger, stuff for track maintenance and more importantly carries out the waste filled sputniks and brings in fresh ones. People hiking the Three Capes Track have to carry out all their own waste. Well, apart from bathroom waste, which is taken away by helicopter. I do think it is rather cool that your poop is helicoptered away to be disposed of. The helipad also doubles as a great place to watch sunrise and sunset.

We had all arrived to Munro pretty early in the afternoon, so we were able to chill in the dining room. There is a lot of literature to read about the Three Capes Track, so we read some of the books and information leaflets and also played some games. They have games there and we had also brought some playing cards and Uno with us. One of the highlights of staying in Munro was that it had a shower. This is the only set of cabins along the trail that has one. The queue was pretty big and we waited until it had gone down to join it. Plus, it was really cold and windy outside, with the odd smattering of rain, so we didn't want to be outside with fewer clothes on for too long. It was really interesting as the ranger told us the shower had originally been cold water only, but people walking the trail had began to use their ingenuity and started heating up water in the kettles in the kitchens so that they could have hot showers. Since this was a big health and safety no-no, the water supply for the shower was some how changed so that hot water could be pumped in. When we eventually joined the queue, it was still rather cold and rainy, I was willing the people ahead of me to shower faster. I was so happy when it was my turn. This shower is not a normal one, but a special camping style one, of which I'd had zero experience before. However, I managed to make it work. You had to pump the hot water into a bucket and then pour it into the canvas shower head, which you hoisted above you. Due to my upper body feebleness and general laziness, I only got it hoisted a little way up and just squatted under it instead. It was definitely a race against time to get my body wet and lather up, before the water ran out and I was conscious on my second fill that I had to get all the shampoo out of my hair. I don't think I've showered under that kind of pressure before, but it was a good, unique (for me) experience. By the time I was done showering, it was time for the ranger's talk. I'm glad we got to listen to this one. Then it was time for dinner. It's great to see all the different kinds of food people bring and what they make. We were pretty ghetto, but some people were real gourmands. I liked that people had brought booze, there's no way I could have justified the extra weight. I was proud of the desserts we had conjured up to satisfy our sweet tooths, whole wheat tortilla wraps with Nutella. Although the weather hadn't been great, it had still been a lovely day on trail, not too taxing, and I liked that the distance had increased from the day before, yet it was still not too much.

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