Your Guide to Hiking the Overland Track
Your next adventure: Overland Track
Where in the world?: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Activity: Tramping, Hiking
Difficulty: While the walk is a reasonably major undertaking it is well within the reach of the average active bushwalker. As with any hike the best preparation is walking and ideally with a bigger than average pack (20kg) and definitely with some major uphill sections.
Wrap up: Australia's premier alpine walking track, the Overland Track is a breathtaking multi-day hike through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, offering varied climates and landscapes at any time of year. .
A bit about the Overland Track…
Generally regarded as one of, if not the best walks in the country, the Overland Track is a must do for anyone into Australia's wild places. Set in the heart of the World Heritage area this walk traverses one of the largest tracts of true wilderness in the country.
The only man-made structures are a few isolated huts and the small amount of track work on the track itself. Travel a few hundred meters either side of the track and the land is the same as it was hundreds of years ago!
If this sounds like the kind of thing you'd enjoy, the most important frame of mind to bring is not just to focus on 'doing' the track but letting yourself be absorbed into the area by taking your time and experiencing some of the great side trips along the way. These can include some of the many mountains such as Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Mt Oakleigh, Pelion East and Mt Ossa along with the Labyrinth area with Mt Geryon and the Acropolis.
As a guide…
Most people allow at least 6 days for the Overland. Here's how you could play it out:
- Day 1 Dove Lake/ Waldheim to Waterfall Valley with a side trip to either Cradle Mountain or Barn Bluff. There's a hut available here.
- Day 2 Waterfall Valley to Frog Flats for overnight tent camping, or Pelion Plains for a hut.
- Day 3 Side trip to Mt Oakleigh and explore Pelion Plains including old mine workings at the old Pelion Hut.
- Day 4 Pelion to the Kia Ora Hut with a side trip to Mt Ossa and/or Pelion East.
- Day 5 Kia Ora to Windy Ridge Hut with side trips to D'alton and Ferguson Falls.
- Day 6 Windy Ridge to the Narcissus Hut and Ferry down Lake St Clair or walk the Lake track to Cynthia Bay for five hours of great rainforest along the edge of Australia's deepest lake.
If you have longer, a diversion after Windy Ridge is to travel into Pine Valley and spend a night at the hut there. From here you can do day trips to the spectacular Labyrinth or the Acropolis. This area can easily consume a few days in its own right if you have the time to spend camped on the elevated plateau of the Labyrinth.
Keep an eye out for...
- On a clear day from the top of Mt Oakleigh you will often see a pair of soaring wedge tail eagles.
- In April the endemic to Tasmania deciduous beech “Nothofagus gunnii" with be changing from its usual rich green to a bright orange before the leaves fall off prior to winter. This plant is found in the elevated areas of the park, particularly around Cradle Mountain and the Labyrinth.
When to go and what to expect…
Tasmania's highland areas are renowned for their variable weather. As a result, regardless of the time of year you visit, you must come prepared for every eventuality including snow, even in the middle of summer.
As a general rule the weather is likely to be better from December to March and the longer daylight hours during this period are ideal for walking. It is not unknown to get a 6 day trip on the Overland with days warm enough to swim in the many tarns along the way, closely followed by bitterly cold westerly winds that will have you clothed in your warmest layers. Come prepared with a good quality rain jacket, a down jacket if trekking in cooler months, or a fleece and softshell all layered up. Throw in some thermal baselayers to be sure you can sleep at night!
For more gear ideas, check out our multi-day hiking gear list.
Ian Ferrier for sharing his knowledge and experience of the Overland Track with us.
As a former guide on the Overland Track, Ian has traversed the track over 50 times. This has included 2 “day" trips where the bulk of the track was run rather than walked. He has also travelled the track in the middle of winter with cross-country skis including a ski ascent/descent of Tasmania's highest mountain, Mt Ossa!
For up to date information on the Overland Track and required permits, please visit the Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania website.
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