Like a gift to the person who’s walked everywhere, Australia is on the cusp of launching three new long-distance hiking trails. Before the end of next year, bushwalkers will be able to hike not just the old faithfuls – the Overland Track, the Larapinta Trail, the Prom – but also the following new trails in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.
Three Capes Track
The headline act of the new trio, the Three Capes Track is planned as Tasmania’s coastal equivalent of the Overland Track, but with swisher digs and saltier air. Ultimately planned to run for about 80 kilometres along the elevated coast of the Tasman Peninsula, it’ll be a journey along Australia’s highest sea cliffs, rounding along the way Cape Raoul, Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy – ergo, the ‘three capes’.
The first section of the track – essentially a spit and polish of the existing day-walk trail to Cape Hauy – was opened in 2012, with stage two set to be unveiled this coming November. This section will head to Cape Pillar from Denmans Cove, extending the trail to 46 kilometres. It’s planned that walkers will spend four days on the track, walking it either independently or guided, with the two groups using separate huts (a la the Overland Track).
The public huts will feature outdoor decks, mattresses and cooking facilities, meaning walkers won’t need to carry tents or stoves.
Construction work on section three, which will continue the trail around Cape Raoul from White Beach (with a boat crossing from Safety Cove to Denmans Cove), was slated to begin after the opening of section two, though the jury (or bean counters, in this case) is still out on whether this section will go ahead.
Track updates are available here.
Grampians Peak Trail
Victoria’s ‘other’ mountains – the Grampians – might be popular with day walkers, but there have always been relatively few options for multi-day walks – the one time I hiked overnight here, I pitched my tent on a slab of hard, uncomfortable sandstone that bore no resemblance to a campsite.
Two months ago, the options widened with the opening of stage one of the Grampians Peak Trail. This forerunner to a far-longer trail makes a 36-kilometre loop out from Halls Gap to Borough Huts, passing such features as the Grand Canyon (no, not that one), Pinnacle Lookout and the summit of Mt Rosea.
The first day climbs into the range from Halls Gap to a purpose-built campsite (with 12 tent platforms) at Bugiga, below Mt Rosea, an 8.6-kilometre walk from Halls Gap. The second stage climbs over Mt Rosea before descending to the existing Borough Huts Campground on the Grampians Road. The more tedious third day, skirting Lake Bellfield back into Halls Gap, can be cut if you have vehicle access.
The grand vision is to extend the Peak Trail into a 13-day, 144-kilometre epic running the length of the Grampians, from Mt Zero in the north to the town of Dunkeld in the south.
Details about the Grampians Peak Trail can be found here.
Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail
A decade ago I spent a couple of days walking the west coast of Kangaroo Island and came away wondering why this wild, cliff-lined stretch of South Australia’s largest island wasn’t better known among bushwalkers. That may be about to change.
Stretching for 63 kilometres, and spread over five days, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail will take in the likes of Remarkable Rocks, Kelly Hill Caves and the Cape du Couedic lighthouse. Four custom-built campsites will be spaced between about 10 and 18 kilometres apart. Early expectations are suggesting that up to 5000 bushwalkers a year might use the trail.
The first section of the Wilderness Trail – a day walk in the Rocky River area – is already open, with the remainder of the track expected to be completed for an opening in September 2016.
Trail updates are available through a mailing list that can be accessed here.