An Epic Camping Adventure: Fortescue Bay, Cape Hauy, and Sneaky Nighttime Visitors

From dense forests, to crystal clear ocean water along pristine beaches, to epic mountain peaks, Tasmania is a nature lover’s dream.

What’s the best way to immerse yourself into Tasmanian nature? Camping of course!

We packed up the Jeep and headed from Hobart to the Tasman Peninsula for our first camping trip of the season. The plan was to set up camp in Fortescue Bay to prepare for a 4am start time to tackle the Cape Pillar Track, which is 13 miles (28.5 km), in one day. “They” recommend 2-3 days, but we usually accomplish trails 40% faster, so it seemed reasonable.

The scene was perfectly set. Fortescue Bay is simply stunning with vibrant, clear water that was far too cold to get into, but extremely easy on the eyes. Everything was ready to go with ample water, tons of snacks, and an excited energy in anticipation of the adventure ahead.

Fortescue Bay

Then disaster struck:

We forget the sleeping bag.

When you think about Australia, you probably think about warm beaches and fun in the sun. The climate in Tasmania is a bit different. It doesn’t get outrageously hot, and the nights are usually chilly year round.  So imagine sleeping in the middle of no where in a tent when it’s in the mid 40s F (4.4 C)… sound fun?

There were two options:

  1. Hop in the car and make the 90 minute trek back to Hobart.
  2. Suck it up. 

After a few minutes of stressed out debating, the 5 flimsy beach towels in the trunk and full bottle of scotch intended for a toast to say goodbye to Trump led us think that we’d be fine. So we pitched the tent, got a fire going, and hoped for the best.

Fortescue Bay Camp Site

Jeremy built a fire like a pro and got the grill going for my favorite part about camping… the food! We made sausage and egg sandwiches on a fire toasted bun followed by too many s’mores to count.

We were enjoying the toasty fire, putting off heading into the tent, and then I heard some rustling. Chatting about great horror films set in the woods probably wasn’t a smart idea. I figured it was just my  brain playing tricks on me, so I brushed it off. Then I heard the noise again, this time it was closer. I was fine. We were fine. It was just the wind, no drama. Finally, the noise came up right behind me and I whipped out my flash light to catch what was surely a murder and was shocked what I saw.

A possum with an English muffin in it’s mouth and paws in our food bag. He had been caught red handed!

Over the course of the next 30 minutes there were 6 Brushtail possums running about our fire, and there was even one with a baby strapped onto it’s back. These possums are much cuter than possums in North America, and I enjoyed watching them waddle around, rummaging for snacks.

The fire was dying so we begrudgingly headed to the tent, wrapped ourselves in the towels, and attempted to sleep.

“Worst night of sleep in my entire life” may  be a bit dramatic, but it was pretty close. The flimsy  foam mats were far from comfortable, the towels were next to useless, and it was freezing. I would drift asleep, just to be woken up due to my muscles clenching in a desperate attempt to generate heat.

Around 1:30am, I heard noises outside. Either there was a gang of forest spirits surrounding the tent waiting to kill us or it was 15 possums furiously scurrying around looking for more English muffins.

After what seemed like decades, the sun finally came up and we headed to the car, blasted the heat, and warmed ourselves up.

Sure, we could have slept in the car. But the appeal of camping at Fortescue Bay  is to be immersed in nature with the soothing sound of the waves serving as a sound machine. We didn’t want to be “those people” disturbing the other camper’s experience due to our own ineptitude.

Our blood shot eyes and sore bodies meant that the 18 mile hike was off the table, and we decided the 4 hour return trek to Cape Hauy would do.

We got the gas burner going to make a much needed cup of coffee to accompany some banana bread, and another furry friend joined us: a Bennett’s wallaby, with a joey! Seeing the little head poke out of the mother’s pouch delighted me to no end and it was almost too cute to handle.

Jeremy dragged me away from my animal viewing party and we hit the Cape Hayy trail head by 7:30 am.

I didn’t know what to expect from the trek ahead,  but I was blown away. After 2ish miles through a pleasant forest, the next two miles took us up and down the bluffs with sweeping coastal views. The scene reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings.

As the every elusive “they” say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll save myself some time:

Cape Hauy
Cape Hauy
The look out is on the bluff on the furthest left.

We made it back to the car before noon with tired bodies but immense satisfaction.

Humans have an incredible ability to forget the bad.  In fact, we can even transform the bad into good! While sleeping in the freezing cold tent was terrible at the time, I’m already looking back at it with a  warm fondness. I won’t remember it as a terrible night’s sleep, but rather, an exciting adventure of sneaky possums, great camp food, and an amazing hike.

Will the same be true for COVID?

While I can’t imagine that I will one day be reflecting back on COVID with a warm fondness, I’m sure the struggle, sadness, and hardships will be dulled. I’ll be able to push the dark moments to the back of my mind and pull forward the good memories like eating the best pizza ever, Mama’s Too!, on the couch while binge watching Tiger King, watching a family of baby foxes romp around, long walks down Riverside Park, and, of course, making it to Tasmania.

However, 1.3 million people won’t have the opportunity to look back on COVID , and it’s important to pay respects to them and remember that there’s still a long uphill battle in the fight against COVID.

Final Thoughts….

The earth keeps spinning even in the moments when it feels like it has stopped, and time has an uncanny ability to heal. Current hardships will become future memories. It’s just a matter of weathering the storm to get to the sunny days ahead.

Hungry for more Tasmanian adventures?:

A Platypus Love Affair and Waddling Echidnas: A Day of Monotreme Magic at The Platypus House in Tasmania

The platypus is a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal that’s only native to Eastern Australia. And oh yeah, the males are poisonous! We took a trip up to The Platypus House in Tasmania to learn more about these fascinating creatures.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Talk about paradise!!!

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  2. TasView says:

    What a memorable trip! I forgot the tent poles once. Lovely photos from your hot air ballon! I think you’re allowed to fly them over National Parks 😉

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    1. Oh no! Did you end up stick it out?

      Hmmmm I….. think that’s one I’ll have to bring up with my Tasmania fiancé … hahaa

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TasView says:

        It’s ok with me, I’m not the fun police but he should be very careful with that tethered ballon 😀 We slept in the back of our wagon with the kids and I went back and fetched them the next day. We were on Bruny Island, luckily I explained it to the ferry operator and he kindly let me return for free 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The view from the coast is awesome! We went backpacking in Canada in early September and forgot one sleeping bag. It snowed overnight so it was pretty chilly, but at least we had one sleeping bag!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. wow how did you achieve those cliff shots? From a taller cliff or by drone! So amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. camping is one of those things that never goes the way I think it will. I am so glad that you enjoyed it in the end. Coffee does help to salvage a day doesn’t it.

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    1. Coffee is always a good idea!!!

      Like

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