February, 2019

Potential for two rail lines to be built to future Badgerys Creek airport

Space is being reserved for a future rail line to the new airport. Photo: Ryan Stuart15 minute train from Parramatta to Sydney CBD proposed
Nanjing Night Net

The federal government is leaving room for two rail lines to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek.

The potential to build both suburban and fast rail from the future airport was revealed at a conference on the construction of a fast train between Sydney CBD, Parramatta and Badgerys Creek held on Friday.

The government has not committed to having the airport connected to a working rail link when it opens its doors to about 5 million passengers a year in 2025.

It has, however, said it would reserve space for a future line by digging a rail tunnel and station cavity into the site as part of earthworks preparation.

Brendan McRandle, the executive director of the western Sydney unit in the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, said space would be left for four rail tunnels – meaning two separate train links – and two stations.

This leaves open the possibility that future governments could both extend the South West Rail Link from Leppington to Badgerys Creek and build a separate direct rail service to other centres – for example, Parramatta.

“In the first part, it’s planning on the Badgerys Creek airport site to have sufficient corridor capacity for four tracks, to allow for a combination of suburban as well as heavy rail,” Mr McRandle said.

“So the airport plan and the EIS [environmental impact statement] that were delivered at the end of last year included a transport corridor that would come in before the airport and it would retain that level of optionality while the government is working through the options to determine the best course of action for both the near-term and long-term transport options for the airport.”

Mr McRandle said room for one station box would be left at a planned business park near the airport, and another where the terminals would be.

The federal and state governments are currently undertaking a joint study exploring options for rail services to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek and in western Sydney.

Mr McRandle said it included examination of metro, light rail and heavy rail, as well as an extension to the existing transport network.

A report showing the costs, funding and challenges of the different options is expected to be released around the middle of the year.

The fast rail conference coincided with the release of a report outlining four route options for fast rail between Parramatta and the CBD, which could then connect to the Badgerys Creek via either Liverpool or Blacktown.

Commissioned by the Sydney Business Chamber’s western Sydney branch and Parramatta Council, the report found fast rail could reduce the travel time between Sydney and Parramatta to 15 minutes and between Parramatta and Badgerys Creek to 25 minutes.

The report only considered the routes in broad terms and did not examine how much they would cost or who would pay for them.

Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said value capture – a model of financing that aims to use the uplift property owners get when public transport is built near by – had the potential to allow a rail link to Badgerys Creek to be built sooner that it would otherwise have been built.

The government, he said, was considering whether the public sector should be bolder in employing such mechanisms and how public sector organisations could use their own property assets to realise value uplift.

Lucy Turnbull, the inaugural head of the Greater Sydney Commission, drew on her own experience of catching the train from Sydney CBD to Parramatta to caution that ticket pricing would be important in the success of any new train lines.

“The $3.37 train from close to the city centre to Parramatta is really good value, so whatever new service is delivered in the fullness of time, it will have to compete for price, because I’m not sure whether I would pay $20 if there was an alternative,” Ms Turnbull said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia: How to get to the world’s most remote islands

The Aranui 5 hybrid freighter-cruisers. Photo: Supplied Welcoming party at the Marquesas. Photo: Supplied
Nanjing Night Net

The first outsiders to set eyes on people from the Marquesas – the most remote set of islands in the world – were met by tattooed and war-painted warriors, armed with giant stone and ironwood clubs and slingshots, in outrigger canoes. The visitors were too terrified to leave their ships and venture ashore.

Today, a huge hulk of an equally intimidating Marquesan man, all biceps and rippling muscles under a bold geometry of black tattoos, is part helping, part lifting, me from boat to land with almost heart-stopping delicacy.

“This is my island,” he says in Polynesian-accented French, grinning with a flash of dazzling white teeth. “You are very welcome here.”

So much has changed in the 420 years since the first Spanish explorers refused to anchor at the Marquesas Islands, occupying the far outpost of French Polynesia between Tahiti and Peru. But so much more is still the same.

The islands are still the most isolated land masses on the globe, with their interiors often largely unexplored, matted by dense jungle snaking up the sides of steep volcanic outcrops and plunging into deep crevasses. Their white beaches rarely have anyone on them, and they’re still little known by the outside world except for the evocative paintings of Gauguin and the early writings of explorer Thor Heyerdahl and Moby Dick author Herman Melville.

And they’re still mostly accessed from the sea.

This is part of the enduring success of a shipping firm that’s been operating a freighter service from the Tahitian capital Papeete to the islands for the past 50 years, to deliver food, fuel and other supplies, and which, 30 years ago, decided to carry passengers, too.

Now, the Aranui series of hybrid freighter-cruisers – they introduced Aranui 5 with its maiden voyage late last year – have become renowned across the world as offering a 14-day expedition to what’s considered one of the last true outposts of the world in the company of perhaps its greatest seamen.

It’s a world apart from a regular cruise. There are similarities, naturally. The passenger section of the ship is extremely comfortable with most cabins having balconies, and everyone has access to a couple of bars, a coffee shop in the lounge, a small pool on deck, a gym, spa and the restaurant from which breakfast and the three-course lunches and dinners, all with French bread and wine, are served twice a day.

But the Aranui 5 is much smaller than most cruise ships, carrying a maximum of 250 passengers and 100 crew. That makes it a great deal more intimate and relaxed, with plenty of opportunities for actually getting to know the colourful, mostly Marquesan, crew. It includes a descendant from island royalty, unmistakeable with his face and head a startling canvas of traditional tattoos.

A drink in the bar with the crew, listening to them playing drums and ukuleles and singing, as well as watching some perform stunning time-honoured dances, are all unforgettably rich experiences. It can be even more thrilling to actually join in the dances, or to be whirled around the bar (they are very big men!) in a much more modern version.

Another joy is watching the skill with which they unload the 3000 tonnes of cargo they’ve brought to the islands in the front freighter section of the ship: the post, boxes of frozen food, pallets of cans and fresh provisions, along with the cars, boats, machinery, fridges and even a truck to be delivered. It’s equally fascinating watching them on the wharves weighing the local export bags of copra – the dried coconut from which coconut oil is extracted – loading them on to barges, balancing the small mountains of bags and then heaving them up onto the ship.

Quite apart from the vicarious pleasure of watching people work when you’re on holiday, it means your ship is welcomed into every harbour of the six inhabited islands – Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata and Ua Huka – and by excited locals looking forward to what you’re bringing with you.

“I think people come to us because they want to discover the Marquesas with a local crew and a friendly ambience, and they like being part of a freighter and feeling part of the family,” says Aranui company CPTM CEO Philippe Wong, whose grandfather migrated from China, married a Papeete-born woman and started the freighter business.

“It also means they feel part of the life of the Marquesas. This ship belongs just as much to the Marquesan people as it does to our company. The locals talk of the Aranui as their ‘seventh island’.”

It certainly does feel that way, with so many warm greetings at every stop, as well as fabulously perfumed leis and welcoming dances, smiles and handshakes. Passenger Scotty from New Zealand was entranced. “It’s like arriving at a gig and being part of the band!” he says.

Excursions on the islands, led by the crew guides, are all part of the voyage, and include tours of ceremonial sites, vast missionary churches, villages, markets, museums and historic tikis and petroglyphs (rock carvings), as well as hikes, fishing and horse-riding trips, demonstrations of traditional crafts, visits to local restaurants and offerings of food cooked in the under-earth traditional oven, the umu.

The life of a freighter itself, however, is endlessly fascinating. As well as a way of transporting goods and passengers around the Marquesas, it’s also used by the residents as a ferry between islands, and they sleep in some of the ships’ dorms or under a canvas on one of the decks.

At night, you often see people fishing off the side of the ship, dragging in huge warehou or tuna under the lights of the decks, and then roasting them on a barbecue hung over the rail. They’ll shout out if there are dolphins dancing alongside, massive six-metre-wide manta rays foraging in the water below, or whales breaching nearby.

One evening there’s a Polynesian function, with a magnificent buffet of local foods and specialist dishes, accompanied by an introduction to the crew, dances and music for the guests, who come from all corners of the world, many as repeat voyagers. There are talks by various experts on different facets of the Marquesas and the captain and his officers, as well as the family members who own the Aranui, usually dine informally with everyone else.

Life at sea gradually assumes its own rhythm and arriving at dawn most days to the dramatic cloud-wreathed basalt peaks and emerald green of a fresh new island, or at a different port on the same island, is a highlight.

From the ship, gazing at those vast cliffs and crashing surf over coral in some of the narrow harbour entrances gives you an excellent idea of the natural perils that would have faced the early arrivals at the Marquesas. That’s quite apart from the original hostility of a people who protected themselves by looking as ferocious as possible, with tales of cannibalism – apparently they preferred the taste of Englishmen to the French – human sacrifices and the shrunken skull cult as well as elaborate head-dresses and carved stilts to appear taller, and, not least, those tattoos.

These days, it’d be hard to find a safer, friendlier and more welcoming, place in the world, albeit one with such a dangerous, action-packed and bloodcurdling history.

“Tell me, have you ever dropped a visitor into the sea?” I ask the crewman once safely deposited onto his island. He grins again. “Not yet,” he replies.

Sue Williams travelled as a guest of Aranui Cruises, Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti TourismeTRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

See 梧桐夜网aranuicruises南京夜网419论坛  ; 梧桐夜网tahiti-tourisme南京夜网  GETTING THERE

Air New Zealand operates frequent flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Auckland, where you pick up a flight with Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete, the Tahitian capital. Flight costs can be included within the Aranui cruise package. Visas are issued on arrival. STAYING THERE

Prices start at $8689 per person twin share for a 17-night package including a 14-day cruise on Aranui 5 in an ocean view stateroom departing Papeete on May 21, July 2, August 13 or September 24, 2016, inclusive of all meals, shore excursions, and wine with lunch and dinner aboard, plus return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia, four nights pre/post cruise accommodation at Manava Suite Resort (with continental breakfast) and Tahiti transfers airport/hotel/ship/hotel/airport, all prepayable air, cruise and hotel taxes and a chauffeur driven luxury car transfer to and from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane airports (up to 35 kilometres). To book, contact Ultimate Travel on 1300 485 846. FIVE OTHER FREIGHTER TRIPS

There are around 45,000 freighters plying the major trade routes across the world each year, and some take passengers. Cabins are often available for single legs of the trips, or round-trips. Meals are usually included in the fares and, while facilities will not be as luxurious as regular cruisers, or the purpose-built freighter-cruiser Aranui 5, you’ll usually have a simple cabin with a bed, table and chair, and access to the crew’s lounge. Tickets have to be booked six-12 months in advance.

Sydney to California, US, (four to six passengers): 23 days via Tauranga in New Zealand, San Francisco, Los Angeles. A single costs $4165. The round trip, which continues from Los Angeles to Auckland, Melbourne, then Sydney, will take 49 days and costs $7825 per person. 梧桐夜网freighterexpeditions南京夜网419论坛

Europe round trip from Southampton, UK, (12 passengers): 35 days via Salerno, Piraeus, Izmir, Limassol, Ashdod, Alexandria, Salerno, Savona, Setubal, Bristol, Cork, Wallhamn, Esbjerg and Antwerp back to Southampton. Single from $3600. 梧桐夜网freightertravel.co.nz

Brisbane to Hong Kong (four cabins): 21 days via New Zealand’s Auckland, Port Chalmers, Lyttleton (Christchurch), Napier, Tauranga and then Noumea, Hong Kong. Single, $4725. The round trip, which continues via China and Taiwan to Brisbane, will be an extra 21 days, $6730. 梧桐夜网freighterexpeditions南京夜网419论坛

Kuala Lumpur to China and back (10 passengers): 25 days via Port Kelang to China’s Xiamen, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Yantian and Chiwan, and then Vietnam’s Vung Tau. From $4200.  梧桐夜网freightertravel.co.nz

New York to Argentina (two cabins): around 25 days via Baltimore and Savannah in the US, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Santos in Brazil and Buenos Aires. Single $4200. The round trip, which continues to Uruguay’s Montevideo, Brazil’s Rio Grande, Santos, Salvador and Suape, then the Bahamas, Norfolk in West Virginia to New York, takes 56 days, $9450. 梧桐夜网freighterexpeditions南京夜网419论坛

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Traveller letters: Should you travel with bags unlocked?

Bag cut open
Nanjing Night Net

I recently returned from skiing in Park City Utah. It was a great destination on our Perisher Epic pass, and American hospitality at its best. What a let-down to find the zip on my ski bag cut open for inspection, despite carrying a TSA lock. The leaflet insert from TSA said that the bag was opened for inspection, failing which the lock may have been cut off. To bypass these steps and cut the zip open is just culpable destruction of property. I emailed TSA and received what I suspect were text-sensitive auto replies, stating that the bag may have been opened at several steps by airline or ground staff or robotic handlers. Finally, a human suggested leaving all bags unlocked and carrying valuables in hand luggage. This begs the question of theft or contraband in unlocked baggage, which is the opposite message for safety-aware travellers. Having two TSA locks cut off on my last trip to Hawaii, and a bag now cut open, should I follow the TSA advice and travel unlocked?

Howard Pelquest-Hunt, Bowral, NSWLETTER OF THE WEEK

Wanting a very Italian experience, Villa Lenzi in Vicopisano is it. It is 15 kilometres from Pisa in the heart of Tuscany and its hosts Massimo and Jon excel at making you feel at home. Experienced guides, they introduced us to the locals … people, wine and food. We were searching for la dolce vita and we found it. Fantastico

Robbie Wensley, Point Arkwright, QueenslandFeeling gobsmacked

As a Sydneysider, I’m proud of our beautiful city and very conscious of its popularity as a tourist magnet for overseas and interstate visitors. So I looked forward to showcasing the city for my friend who was visiting from Brisbane. Imagine my surprise when I found that it was not possible to obtain, at short notice, a Seniors Opal card for her short stay. Undeterred, I next contacted Destination NSW to inquire about obtaining a City Discovery Card, which in overseas tourist hubs, provides discounted public transport, plus access to museums, art galleries and historical site tours, all at discounted prices. I was gobsmacked to find that no such tourist-friendly card existed for Sydney. I have used these cards regularly when travelling overseas, as they are a convenient and economical way to access the pleasures of a new city, its sights, culture and people.

Susan Lenne, Clovelly, NSW SIM card the way to go

We were very impressed by the Europe SIM card we recently bought from ukprepaidsimcard南京夜网419论坛. The SIM card arrived in the mail a day after we ordered and worked seamlessly in the UK, France, Italy and Spain. Being able to use data on our iPhones without worrying about roaming costs added to the amazing experience of our honeymoon. It also meant a happy husband who could wander off while I went clothes shopping in wonderful Milan, with me knowing that our credit card was only a phone call away.

Christie Robinson, Sydney.Watch the notes

Regarding the recent letter (Traveller Letters, February 20) about being given counterfeit bank notes from an ATM, the more common scenario is that it was a scam by the taxi driver. When she handed the cash to the taxi driver while examining them he would have switched bank notes to counterfeit and handed the fakes back and demanded a second payment. It’s always wise to use small denominations in South America and closely observe your driver.

Frank Hofmann, Wheelers Hill, VictoriaGreat advice

Regarding road tolls in Europe and charges on return to Australia, there are multiple forums where you can ask questions regarding where you need a Vignette (toll card) in Europe. On the excellent tourism forum, Virtualtourist, you can ask any query about your trip and you will have local residents reply very promptly. We are travelling from Brussels to northern Italy via Germany/Austria in late August and I queried which was the most scenic route. In addition to replies about the route, I also had three replies all advising us to buy a Vignette in a service station in Germany just before we crossed the border to Austria to avoid tolls by the Austrian police who patrol the area.

Sonia Borean, Stafford Heights, QueenslandThird parties

A warning about obtaining credits or changing flight details when buying tickets through third parties. In my case, we used Webjet and had to change a domestic flight at the airport. The only option was to buy a fare from the airline direct and seek credit at a later stage from Webjet. Twelve months later, the credit amount has still not been used. It’s hard to think how Webjet could make the process any more difficult. My advice, buy tickets direct from the airline where practical – it’s not worth saving a few pennies.

Gary Thomas, Griffith, ACT Meals hard to recognise

I have been travelling regularly on the Qantas, Sydney-LA- New York route over the past five years and must strongly disagree with Ute Junker when she states that “the good news for those of us flying economy is that meals are slowly improving” (Traveller, February 27-28). On my most recent trip, each of the main meals consisted of a hot dish of homogenous consistency and a dessert that should have had a warning because of its high sugar content. In the past, we had also a salad, bread roll, crackers and cheese. Not this time. The hot breakfast was apparently scrambled eggs but it was difficult to recognise. The service on Qantas has remained excellent, but I would hope that with a turnaround in its profits, passengers in economy could expect better meals.

Manuela Epstein, Pyrmont, NSW


The writer of the letter judged the best of the week will receive a Lonely Planet prize pack. See 梧桐夜网lonelyplanet南京夜网.

Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Preference will be given to letters of 50-100 words or less.

Email us at [email protected]南京夜网419论坛 and, importantly, include your name, address and phone number.

To read more Traveller Letters, click here.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


The ultimate Western Australia road trip

The Gap and Natural Bridge, smashed by the rumbustious Southern Ocean, in Torndirrup National Park near Albany. Photo: Auscape/UIGAs a lifetime cyclist I have an innate distrust of cars, but on this road trip in Western Australia’s south-west, driving through a landscape of coastal plains and softly contoured farmlands, along empty roads, I’m experiencing a rare harmony between man and four-wheeled beast.
Nanjing Night Net

As I round a bend deep in the sun-blushed forest, between Denmark and Pemberton, and the car reverberates to the ethereal strains of Florence and the Machine, I’m close to euphoria.

Around every corner and along each straight are trees, like mobs of teenagers that never stopped growing, yet like elders possessing age-old wisdom. In these southern forests are karris standing 60 metres tall and red tingles that have survived 400 years of climate change.

If I hadn’t stood, an hour ago, inside a living tree-trunk at the Valley of the Giants or wobbled along the adjacent Tree-Top walk, angling like an oversized Meccano set above the canopy, this natural architecture might have passed me by. However, having learnt that the Noogar Aboriginals, inhabitants of these forests for 38,000 years, believe these trees are imbued with their ancestral spirits, every soaring trunk appears animated and characterful.

I begin my journey by flying from Perth to Albany, spending two days around the former whaling town, Western Australia’s first European settlement, founded in 1826.

Albany’s a likeable town with much to see nearby, from coastal features like the Gap and Natural Bridge, smashed by the rumbustious Southern Ocean, in Torndirrup National Park, to 7500-year-old fish-traps at Oyster Harbour to the historic whaling station, in Discovery Bay.

Yet, it is Albany’s role, as the departure point for 41,000 Australians and Kiwis heading to the First World War, that most defines its heritage. In November 2014, the National Anzac Centre opened, overlooking King George Sound from which the naval convoys left, to commemorate that fact.

The museum is no glorification of war but a touching evocation of its reality, achieved by interactive displays and the opportunity to track one individual’s involvement.

I follow South Australian Aboriginal, Private Gordon Naley, of the 16th battalion. It’s a poignant journey that takes me to Gallipoli, onto Naley’s convalescence from typhoid, in London, his redeployment to the Western Front, in 1916, imprisonment in Germany, his marriage to an English woman and his death, at 44, from war-related sickness.

On my second morning, I drive inland to Porongurup​ National Park, where fragmented granite tors reach for the clouds. As a wet mist swaddles the forested slopes, I follow a two-kilometre trail up to Castle Rock, where the Granite Skywalk wraps around the peaks and a ladder leads to the summit. With mist swirling below, I can picture these bluffs surrounded by ocean, as they were 55 million years ago.

In more recent times, winemakers have discovered that the Porongurup foothills provide a mineral-packed terroir producing intensely flavoured pinot noir and riesling. Among the vignerons are Eugene Harma, from Hiawatha country in Michigan, and Rob Diletti, whose family comes from Lucca in Tuscany.

Diletti, of Castle Rock vineyard, was named James Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year in 2015. His Reserve Riesling, produced from hand-picked grapes, is a snip at $30 a bottle.

While the wines are impressive, the Porongurups cannot yet compete with the Margaret River region, where I spend the latter part of my five-day trip. With so many wineries to choose from, I confine myself to visiting two of its pioneering labels, Vasse Felix and Leeuwin Estate, returning each night to Cape Lodge, the apotheosis of the area’s accommodation.

At both vineyards I take “Ultimate Winery Tours”, meeting winemakers, viewing art exhibitions, tasting “flights” of wine and indulging in long lunches at award-winning on-site restaurants.

An afternoon trekking part of the 125-kilometre coastal track, with Cape to Cape Explorer Tours, helps undo the damage to my waistline while reminding that beaches, rockpools, cliffs and the turquoise Indian Ocean make this the continent’s most scenic wine region.

However, with Swedish chef Michael Elfwing performing culinary sorcery at Cape Lodge’s restaurant and a final morning visit to the Margaret River Farmers’ Market, gluttony inevitably triumphs.

After five days driving from Albany to Perth, I’ve not only achieved a contented, meditative state behind the wheel of a car, but also been able to see the region’s food (and wine) for the trees. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION


australiassouthwest南京夜网  GETTING THERE

Virgin Australia flies to Albany daily via Perth, see virginaustralia南京夜网419论坛. TOURING THERE:

National Anzac Centre, 1347 Forts Road, Mount Clarence, opens daily 9am-4pm (except Christmas Day), adults $24, children $10; see Nationalanzaccentre南京夜网419论坛.

Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, Walpole, opens 9am-5pm daily, adults $19, children $9.50; see valleyofthegiants南京夜网419论坛.

Ultimate Winery Tours cost $249 at Leeuwin Estate and $185 at Vasse Felix; see ultimatewineryexperiences南京夜网419论坛.

Cape Lodge has two-night packages from $645 a couple, including accommodation, breakfast and six-course tasting menu; see capelodge南京夜网419论坛.

Daniel Scott was a guest of Tourism WA and Australia’s South-West.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Three Capes Track: Tasmania’s new big hike

Three Capes Track at Cape Pillar and the Blade. Photo: Stu GibsonOn Hurricane Heath there’s barely a hint of breeze. A white-bellied sea eagle cruises overhead, looming as large as a glider, and the sound of the Southern Ocean rises over the cliffs, but otherwise the day is as still as a painting.
Nanjing Night Net

As the name suggests, this piece of Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula can be a ferocious place, but today it might easily be a natural metaphor for the Three Capes Track that I’m hiking. In this most wild of places has come this most mild of walks.

Opened two days before last Christmas, the Three Capes Track is a hike like no other in Australia, featuring built-in interpretation and huts that are borderline hiker resorts. The 46-kilometre track is wide and smooth, with long sheets of boardwalk. If there are difficulties here, you have to manufacture them.

If it’s a cruisy walk, it’s truly a cruisy beginning, with the track starting with a boat trip across Port Arthur. It’s no straight ferry shuttle, but a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys tour in itself, journeying along the cliffs of the bay and peninsula for more than an hour.

As we nose into sea caves, with dolerite columns steepling overhead, it’s a glance at what we won’t see from up high on foot – the base of Australia’s highest sea cliffs, ringed with a necklace of kelp.

The walking begins at Denmans Cove, a rare sandy beach amid the drama of the cliffs. That this is a hike with a difference is apparent immediately as the track curls away from the beach. More than $25 million has been spent on construction of the walk’s first two stages, and it’s a virtual bush footpath, with a surface that’s almost wrinkle-free and often wide enough to walk two abreast.

Beside the track, just a few minutes from Denmans Cove, is a bench with a convict leg-iron attached, peering through a break in the bush to the Port Arthur penitentiary. It’s the first of 36 “encounters” along the track, marked by whimsically shaped benches and artistic installations. An accompanying handbook tells a tale of the Tasman Peninsula’s human and natural history at each stop.

The first day of hiking is short – just four kilometres to Surveyors hut, which materialises from the bush like a wooden palace. Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service has taken the New Zealand model of hiking huts and surpassed it. The three huts along the Three Capes Track are by far the plushest and most stylish hiking huts in Australia.

Hikers stay in individual rooms with either four or eight beds, with memory-foam mattresses. There are board games, a library of reference books, USB phone chargers, yoga mats and canvas deck chairs. The kitchens contain gas stoves and saucepans.

See also: The Aussie route that will test your limits

With no need to carry tents, stoves, mats or cooking pots, you can reduce the weight you carry, or simply create room in your pack for the likes of wine and, in the case of Hobart couple Shannon and Emma, frozen steak for a gourmet dinner.

I’m met on the steps of the hut by host ranger William, who shows me around and then to my room. With this welcome, I’m half expecting someone to arrive to turn down my sleeping bag.

It’s on the second day that the track really gets into its stride. From Surveyors, it winds through open woodland to low Arthurs Peak and the first taste of walking life atop the cliffs.

Behind me, a cruise ship sits at anchor off Port Arthur, looking incongruously large in the narrow bay. Rain showers hover offshore, but rarely strike land, and Crescent Beach rises in high dunes across the bay.

But the finest of the views are south along the peninsula, where headlands and cliffs stand queued in formation. It’s a glimpse of my next two days – a stretch of coast as wild and spectacular as any in the country.

Beyond here, the views will only get better, even if the place names become more troublesome. Past Arthurs Peak, the trail descends through a heath-covered valley and up the line of Tornado Ridge. Tornado Flat is not far beyond and, early the next morning, as I set out for Cape Pillar, I will pass through Hurricane Heath.

See also: Islands at the end of the world

These names were bestowed on the land by the Tasmanian climbers who cut the first trails to Cape Pillar in the 1960s, clearly in conditions less benign than these ones.

As I walk through Hurricane Heath, I’m about an hour into the track’s longest day of 17 kilometres, but in some regards, it’s also one of the easiest days.

From the hut at Munro, with its deck that seems as long as airstrip, the track makes an out-and-back journey to Cape Pillar, the peninsula’s southern tip. Hikers can leave their backpacks at Munro, walking almost load-free to Cape Pillar. In the cool of morning I carry just my rain jacket, water, snacks and camera.

It’s a day of contrasts: predominantly boardwalk for the first hour, then hard against the cliff edge to Cape Pillar. The forest along the first section out of the hut feels alive in the early morning, with wallabies and lizards pushing through the undergrowth, and a choir of birdsong greeting the day.

Past the forest, the most conspicuous feature on Hurricane Heath is the track itself. The boardwalk, complete with safety railing for much of its length, curls across its slopes like a yellow brick road of sorts. It looks so prominent and incongruous that, among a few walkers this day, it’s quickly christened the Great Wall of China.

The greatest wall here, however, is the cliffs, and the last section of walking to Cape Pillar is the most spectacular and exposed of all – an exhilarating, humbling section high above ocean, rock and the white dots of occasional yachts.

At Cape Pillar, Tasmania makes a dramatic exit into the Southern Ocean. A ramp of rock rises so sharply from the cape it’s been named the Blade. Balanced near the Blade’s tip is a single rock, like a cube of wombat scat, that is the track’s literal full stop.

“It is worthwhile to travel 16,000  miles to see such a scene as this,” Irish convict William Smith O’Brien wrote on sighting Cape Pillar in the 1840s. It’s also worthwhile just hiking the 20 kilometres it’s taken me to stand here, because it’s a scene that’s already become the Three Capes’ signature moment.

Tasman Island sits anchored below, and Antarctica is another 2500 kilometres away, feeling distant and impossible on a warm day like this one. The barking of fur seals rises up from rock platforms around Tasman Island.

See also: Visit Antarctica without leaving Australia

Hikers creep to the Blade’s edge, peering down at the ocean 330 metres below, and return ashen-faced.

To the west lies the spiny tip of Cape Raoul, the third of the track’s “three capes”. Under the original planning, the third stage of the track – to be built now that the second stage has opened – would extend to Cape Raoul and beyond, turning the Three Capes Track into a six-day, 65-kilometre walk.

Funding issues have placed that extension in doubt. It may only ever be a track of two capes.

If that shortfall has drawn some criticism, so has the price tag. At $495 a person, hiking the Three Capes Track costs almost $300 more than the Overland Track, leading to claims of elitism – silvertail hikers only – and the exclusion of traditional bushwalkers.

Parks and Wildlife Service figures, however, show that around 600 people a year hiked on the old tracks south of Cape Hauy before the creation of the Three Capes Track, while more than 1300 hiked the Three Capes Track in the first month of its opening. Build it and they have come.

There’s also surprising diversity in the people with whom I share the track, ranging from a honeymooning couple, to a family of five, 20-something friends, 60-something friends, and a mother and adult daughter taking time out together.

On Cape Pillar we gather as a crowd for the first time, reluctant to leave this most spectacular of views. But finally I return to Munro, gather up my backpack and continue on to the hut at Retakunna. From here, the final day begins with the track’s meanest climb, onto the slopes of Mt Fortescue.

On Mt Fortescue’s northern side, past its summit, the track descends through a fairytale section of rainforest. Ferns tower overhead like natural umbrellas, and the moss on the logs and forest floor is sponge-thick. I’m reminded of forests along the mountain ranges of the Queensland-NSW border, give or take 10 degrees.

As quickly as the rainforest appears, it is gone again, and I’m transported back from fantasy to the Tasman Peninsula. Cliffs tumble away beside my feet, large boulders balancing at their edge in defiance of gravity. Cape Hauy rises ahead, and the sea is frighteningly far below. But still there’s barely a breeze, let alone a hurricane. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION


梧桐夜网discovertasmania南京夜网419论坛   GETTING THERE

Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly between Sydney and Melbourne and Hobart.   HIKING THERE

The Three Capes Track begins at Port Arthur and can be hiked year-round. Walker numbers are limited to 48 a day. Track bookings can be made at threecapestrack南京夜网419论坛/booking.html.

Andrew Bain travelled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.FIVE OTHER TASMANIAN HIKESOVERLAND TRACK

Tasmania’s signature trail, threading between the most spectacular of its high mountains between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair. WALLS OF JERUSALEM

Less hyped, but no less spectacular, than the nearby Cradle Mountain area. Walk in past Trapper’s Hut and spend a couple of days exploring the Walls from the camp at Wild Dog Creek. FRENCHMANS CAP

The great white sharp of Tasmania’s southwest, once infamous for its mud, but now rerouted so the only challenge is the final, heady climb. TARN SHELF

Hike across the top of Mt Field National Park to this “shelf” of mountain lakes. Autumn brings one of the finest natural colour displays in Australia. SOUTH COAST TRACK

Wild and remote hike along Tasmania’s southernmost coast. Fly into Melaleuca and hike back out.

For all hikes, see 梧桐夜网parks.tas.gov419论坛.

See also: Six of the best Tasmanian day walks See also: Twenty reasons to visit Hobart

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.