They say Tasmania has some of the cleanest air in the world. There are surely few better places to test this idea than the 48-kilometre Three Capes Track, located on the south-east coast, a 90-minute drive from Hobart. The route opened in December 2015 and remains one of Australia’s most coveted and essential hikes. Just 48 people are allowed on the track each morning.

The four-day, three-night journey begins at the historical penal colony of Port Arthur. Due south from here, there’s nothing but 3000 kilometres of open ocean until you reach Antarctica’s bitter shores. On day one, hikers get a brief taste of this expanse as a boat ferries them from Port Arthur, across the bay, to the trailhead at Denmans Cove. Whales, dolphins and seals can sometimes be seen from the decks.

The rest of the journey across the craggy, eucalyptus-dotted headland is more solitary. Walkers set their own pace and conclude each day at a modern self-catered cabin equipped with gas cooktops, bunk beds, a panoramic deck and communal dining tables. Food, water, personal toiletries and clothing are the only things to carry.

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We like the simplicity of it all. A challenging hike is that much more enjoyable when you know there’s a warm bed and a steaming mug of tea waiting for you at the other end, with no tent-pitching or fire-lighting required. All you need to do is settle into a good rhythm and enjoy the panoramic views, the persistent crashing of the Tasman Sea and, of course, lungfuls of that famously pure air.

Three Capes Track is a 90-minute drive from Hobart. Qantas flies to Hobart multiple times a day.

Adult $495 / child $396. Price includes entry to Port Arthur Historic Site, car parking, secure lockers, boat cruise, three nights’ accommodation, bus transfer and guidebook with maps.

This story originally appeared in Melbourne print issue 27 and Sydney print issue 19.