My first thought about the Tasmanian Overland track is that of rainforests, waterfalls, vast mountains and perhaps some mud. But to my surprise we were blazoned with 39 degree heat traveling up from Hobart to Cradle Mountain ready to start the walk the next day in equally heat wavering conditions.
The Cradle Mountain hike up Marions lookout and higher to the pinnacle of the mountain was incredible, with clear vistas all around till a small change came through. A rumble of thunder and heavy slosh of warm rain and then the day cleared again to continue the hike to waterfall valley.
Greeted by the Wildcare volunteers and shown the hut and camping rules, we settled down at the end of a long day, ready for more vistas of great beauty. Each hut was warm and welcoming though we camped mainly as it was a warm week. We did an 8 day version rather than the 4-5 day version, so we could rest after climbing Mt Ossa (Tassies’ tallest mountain) and swim in the river, and complete the hike the traditional way by walking to Cynthia bay rather than the ferry. In fact some of the best rainforest is missed by cutting off the end leg of the journey.
The rangers throughout the trip were energetic and happy to please and the tradies working on more duck-board were great to chat to about their incredible track work. The duckboard is not there to make it easier, in fact it appears in areas that have become braided by human feet, so the environment wins out this way, not to mention the wombats who seem to travel the same short sections of wooden road
The Lake Windermere section gave us beautiful views of Barn Bluff and Cradle in the distance and a hint of what was to come with Mt Oakleigh peeking around the corner of one lookout. Lake Wills was lovely even though misty, and the sunset of Barn Bluff with the golden buttongrass in the foreground very poetic.
In fact each section we walked, we found dazzling colours, magnificent towering mountains and divine canyons of rolling green. The leatherwood trees were dropping their petals, so that the ground was a carpet of white confetti and the sound of happy native bees. Bubbling creek, rushing rivers and crashing waterfalls kept the day full with side trips of splendor.
New Pelion hut provided a great swimming hole down by the old 1865 hut, and a verdandah with a view of Mt Oakleigh that dominated every window and camera lens. A tiny Barn Bludd and Cradle sat on the horizon as the moon rose, the sun left its last rays on Mt Oakleigh and the planets of Mars, Saturn and Venus lined up in the sky. The Pademelons, Possums and Wallabies oblivious of the view as they hoped around the hut in hope of an accientally dropped scroggin nut or two.
Mt Ossa, was a blue day, no wind, after a long hike up Pelion Gap. Views to the four corners of Tasmania. Frenchmans Cap could be seen, along with Mt Murchison, Mt Geryon, Walls of Jerusalem peaks and so many more hundreds of mountains stretching up from their glacial valleys.
Cathedral mountain was out view as we camped at Kia Ora. We stayed here two nights with Mt Cathedral changing colours and dominated the sky as the hours rolled on by. Laying in the sun, reading a book and sipping a tea, it was luxury on the wooden camp platforms.
The next day brought waterfalls, Fergusson Falls (names after the ranger Fergy who bears a plaque on a trunk of a tree nearby, the hikers best friend), D’Alton Falls and Hartnett Falls, along with a huge march over the Du Cane Gap 1070m at the end of the day to Bert Nicholls hut (newly replacement for the old windy ridge hut).
Mt Geryon’s three heads sat above us as we cooked a salami pinenut risotto. Yes we had beaten the land speed record and had time to do some proper camp cooking, complete with a cup of tea and some dark chockie for dessert.
The next day was a roll down the hill past the bowling green, a place where the wallabies commune, and onwards to Narcissus hut, crossing the river to sit and eat lunch. The hikers were finishing up their trail, but we decided, the ferry wasn’t for us. There was lots more to see. In fact the best of the rainforest was still to come.
We wandered the afternoon through the Narssicus to Echo point section with Mt Olympus overhead, and Lake St Clair lapping at our heels. Fungi in yellow, fiery reds and giant form peeked out from the lush green moss and lichen covering the myrtle rainforest. The fresh water of Australia’s deepest lake (180m) washed ashore with rippling waves as the wind ruffled it’s surface. A weather change was coming, but the drizzle and cloud only made the walk through the forest more magical.
Echo Point hut was small but warm complete with it’s own jetty for easy water collecting. Pademelons watched us from hidden paths and we waited for a platypus with no luck. With fellow campers, we had a wonderful time chatting about experiences, their views on Tassie and her beauty, and the delight of hearing they would be back for sure.
Sadly, day 8 had come, with a short walk back to Cynthia bay from Echo point, we took our time, enjoyed the rain dropping from the forest canopy and delighted in the sandy shores and the gushing streams. Galaxia fish wriggled in the streams and leatherwood petals fell.
And there it stood the final sign with Overland written on it, we’d made it. Civilisation meet us at the Lake St Clair visitor centre with a sudden reality check. People wearing sandals, children giggling and a gift shop filled with memorabilia.
A quick change and off to have lunch at the Hungry Wombat just outside the park, filled our bellies while our minds still were overflowing with memories of the past few days.
This may not be the hardest walk to do in Tasmania, but it does take fitness, and weather will always play a part of how your experience will play out. But whether it rains or shines, you’ll never forget the experience of walking the Overland track; that you are alone with Nature herself at times, and how lucky you are to do that right here in our backyard.
For an island, Tasmania is shy, but if you wait and put in the effort, she’ll come right out and dazzle you with her beauty and diversity.
Do the Overland track and change your life