17 October, 2016

Hiking the Overland Track

Tassie lays claim to one of Australia’s most iconic and premier alpine walks: the mighty Overland Track. It’s not a hike for the faint of heart, nor for the ill-equipped. But if you prepare adequately and stick it out til the end, the rewards will be extraordinary and the experience will be one that stays with you for years to come.
Overland track
Get ready for one hike of a good time. (Tourism Tasmania & Don Fuchs)

Threading its way through the magnificent Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, traversing terrain as diverse as sheer mountains, temperate rainforest, wild rivers and alpine plains, the track officially runs for 65km and generally takes 5–6 days to complete. Its start and end points, Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, are as scenic as any you’ll find along the way. And while you may wish to tackle the track in either direction, it’s actually mandatory from 1 October to 31 May to hike from north (Cradle) to south (the lake). Below is the six-day itinerary at a glance.

Overland track views
The views along the way are unparalleled (Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada)

Day 1

Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley

Distance: 11km
Time: 4–6 hours

Day 1 really sorts the serious from the seriously unprepared. Many feel it’s the most difficult day of the entire Overland journey. It may start out tamely enough—on boardwalk across gently undulating moorland, but don’t get too complacent. The track soon rises and passes beside Crater Falls, before straddling Crater Lake. You’ll want to catch your breath and replenish then, for the steepest section of the track looms ahead in the form of Marions Lookout (1,250m). For the next 5km you will enjoy sweeping views across the glacial landscape as you walk beside the base of Cradle Mountain, before steadily descending into spectacular Waterfall Valley to the huts and campsites.

Crater Lake
Hikers walking along Crater Lake towards Marions Lookout (Tourism Tasmania & Yee Seng Hock)

Day 2

Waterfall Valley to Lake Windermere

Distance: 8km
Time: 2.5–3.5 hours

Compared with the previous day’s climb, the trek to Lake Windermere is a walk in the park (mind the pun). You’ll walk through heathland and alpine gums as you skirt the rim of the spectacular Waterfall Valley. If it's rained recently, you can hear several waterfalls far below. After an hour or so you’ll reach the junction to Lake Will - a popular side trip, where many people choose to lunch on the lake’s shore, beneath the backdrop of Barn Bluff. From Lake Will to Lake Windermere you’ll be treated to one of the most impressive views in all of Tasmania. Windermere Hut is just beyond the lake, at the edge of a myrtle forest.

Lake Windermere
View to Lake Windermere (Tourism Tasmania & Don Fuchs)

Day 3

Lake Windermere to Pelion
Distance: 17km
Time: 5–7 hours

Today is filled with moorlands and mountain views. You’ll enjoy remarkable views across the Forth River Valley to the heights of Mount Oakleigh and to today’s checkpoint, Pelion Plains, at its base. Descend around Mount Pelion West to a popular lunch spot at Frog Flats which, at 730m above sea level, is the lowest section of the Overland Track. In the afternoon continue up onto Pelion Plains with marvellous views of the dolerite spires of Mount Oakleigh framing the view to the north.

Mt Oakleigh
Morning fog at Mt Oakleigh (Tourism Tasmania & Raymond Yaxley)

Day 4

Pelion to Kia Ora

Distance: 9km
3–4 hours

Today it’s all about mountains! You’ll begin with a steady ascent through lush rainforest. After a few hours, you’ll emerge from the forest onto Pelion Gap—the exposed alpine plateau between Mt Pelion East and Mt Ossa. If fine weather and time allows, you may choose to attempt to summit Tasmania’s highest mountain (Mt Ossa, 1,617m). The gradual descent from Pelion Gap to Kia Ora Hut through beautiful Pinestone Valley with views to your left of Cathedral Mountain, is a favourite part of the track for many.

Lake Windermere - Overland Track
View to Lake Windermere - Overland Track (Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada)

Day 5

Kia Ora to Windy Ridge

Distance: 10 km
Time: 3.5–4.5 hours

Be prepared to be amazed as you trek through towering rainforests of Leatherwood and Sassafras trees, en route to three of Tasmania’s largest and most spectacular waterfalls—Fergusson, Dalton and Hartnett Falls. After ample time admiring each, you’ll begin a gradual climb to Du Cane Gap, whose valley is sculpted by glaciers thousands of years ago. Tonight’s camp is at Windy Ridge, a stunning location almost totally encircled by the magnificent Du Cane Range.

D'alton Falls
The impressive D'alton Falls (Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada)

Day 6

Windy Ridge to Lake St Clair

Distance: 9km
Hours: 3 hours

The final day of the track takes you through towering gums and temperate rainforest towards the shores of Lake St Clair. As you near the lake near the lake you can gaze up to the peaks of Mt Ida and majestic Mount Olympus. Then, catch a 30 minute ferry across Lake St Clair, the deepest natural lake in the southern hemisphere, which serves as a spectacular conclusion to the Overland Track as you look back upon the journey you've just conquered.

Lake St Clair
The majestic, mirror-like expanse of Lake St Clair (Tourism Tasmania & Guy Taylor)

Need to know:

- You can either take on the track as an independent walker (using the public huts and campsites), a member of a large group (using the public group tent platforms), or a member of a commercial group - i.e. Cradle Mountain Huts - staying in private huts.

- You MUST book in advance

- There is an Overland Track fee on top of the cost of a National Park Pass (the latter is available for purchase on board Spirit of Tasmania).

For more information about the Track, including detailed itineraries, planning advice and FAQs, see the Parks & Wildlife Service website.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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