South Coast Track

Day 5 of the hike, first day on the South Coast Track at Melaleuca

Some people consider the South Coast Track as the second best hike in Tasmania behind the Overland Track. I’m not so sure!

Getting to the start of the South Coast Track for most people usually means a flight to Melaleuca Airstrip. For us we walked 75km on the Port Davey Track from Scotts Peak Dam. So a quick top up of food and fuel which we organised with Par Avion and we were on our way.

South Coast Track Day 1

After spending the night at the free hut Valerie and I headed off onto the South Coast Track with clear skies and stupid hot temperatures. We decided on a detour from the normal track and headed to New Harbour for the first night which is part of the South West Cape Track. Rumour was it was a great beach so we decided to see if the rumour was true and it was a great beach. Sven who we met on the Port Davey Track, Valerie and I were the only ones there, oh and a long dead seal at the far end of the beach. Not sure how long it had been washed up on the beach.

Due to the great weather we decided to camp on the beach. There was no wind, no chance of rain (that’s a big call in the part of Tasmania) so we left the cover off the tent and star gazed in-between sleep. No Aurora Australis overnight as we had earlier discussed the possibility of seeing it from the far south of Tasmania which does happen on occasion.

Stats

12km in 3 hours including all rest breaks etc

south coast track

Camping on New Harbour Beach in perfect weather with not a breath of wind

south coast track

Cooking dinner

south coast track

Late evening reflections at the rivulet behind the beach

South Coast Track Day 2

We again woke to good weather and decided to take a short cut back to the South Coast Track by climbing over the Harbour Ranges. There were no tracks but the day before I noted that there was not too much vegetation on the range and it looked like the climb would not be too tough or too much off a bush bash. So off we went. It took about 2.5 hours to reach the summit of the range at 556m. Great views over the coastal cliffs and beaches and inland through the valleys and high mountains.

Despite the cold and sometimes intense wind we lingered at the top for a very long time. We didn’t want to leave until it appeared that some bad weather may be coming. It only took an hour to descend back down to the South Coast track right next to the beach on Cox Bight. From there it was a nice easy stroll along the beach to our camp for the night at Point Eric.

Stats

9km in 5.5 hours including all rest stops, photo breaks, lunch breaks etc

south coast track

Begining the climb from New Harbour Beach to the top of the New Harbour Range

south coast track

Top of the New Harbour Range looking out towards Bathurst Harbour in the background

south coast track

Strong wind while looking out over the South West Cape area

south coast track

Descending New Harbour Range looking over Freney Lagoon and Cox Bight, our campsite for the night is sheltered between the two beaches at Point Eric

south coast track

Cox Bight with Freney Lagoon and Point Eric campsite in the middle

south coast track

Campsite at Point Eric

South Coast Track Day 3

A not so early start as we were one of the last to leave. A commercial tour group being the last ones there. The day started with low fog migrating out of the valley from Bathurst Harbour, through Melaleuca and out to sea. A stunning sight, however, when it burnt off the temperatures again soared and it was quite hot. By the time we exited the beach and climbed the Red Point Ranges I was consuming around 1 litre of water an hour and I was sweating profusely. It felt somewhat tropical. I guess come prepared for anything in the far South of Tassie. At several times on the trip we have flushed Ground Parrots from the side of the track as we walk past them, they are so well camouflaged. Finally got one to stay still for a photo opportunity.

By late afternoon we reached the boardwalks over the sodden plains near Louisa River campsite. At one point I noticed a Tiger Snake under the boardwalk. I had to jump over it, I couldn’t see its head and had to guess as I jumped. I didn’t feel like I was in any danger but I’m not wanting to argue with a Tiger Snake. While walking on the boardwalk sections my line of vision tends to take in the scenery more than my footsteps!

Just as we reached the campsite there was a crack of thunder and rain started to fall. We crossed the river and set up camp quickly. Within 5 minutes the rain had stopped and blue sky appeared.

Stats

17km in 6 hours including all rest breaks, lunch stops, photo sessions etc

south coast track

The beach at Point Eric on Cox Bight in the morning

south coast track

Beach at Cox Bight

south coast track

Footprints in the sand

Ground Parrot

Ground Parrot

south coast track

Very hot day while climbing the Red Point Hills

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south coast track

Crossing one of the creeks on the way to camp at Louisa River

Ironbound Ranges

It was at about this point I jumped over a Tiger snake that slithered under the boardwalk, nice view of the track heading up the Ironbound Ranges

South Coast Track Day 4

Sleep was lacking during last night thanks to the near constant rain and when it was not raining the drops of water from the trees above constantly bombarded the tent, even earplugs didn’t really help. I cooked the morning breakfast in the vestibule of the tent and sheltered from the rain. Right when we were ready to start hiking the rain cleared and we set off to clearing skies.

Ironbound Range

Today, so I was told, promised to be the hardest day of the trip. Its called the Ironbound Ranges. Its not so much that there is a 900 meter climb that was the issue, but the transition from sub-alpine scenery to rainforest on the descent that promised to test most hikers.

The first hour of the climb we made good time and then the drizzle and wind started. Not a problem as I have all the right equipment and was prepared for any weather that Tassie could throw at me. The drizzle didn’t last long but the cold wind did. We reached the top in under 3 hours and planned to stop and have an early lunch but instead decided to have a light snack, we only lasted 10 minutes as there was no place to shelter from the wind and cold. It was probably 5 degrees by now but with the 40km/h winds it felt much colder. When we discussed the climb days earlier we wanted to go past the summit saddle to the summit of the Ironbound Ranges another couple of kilometers further on, but the weather beat us today.

The decent through the rainforest was a struggle for some going down, mainly from the slippery rocks and exposed tree roots. There was little in the way of a view from within the rainforest. We were at the campsite at Little Deadmans Bay in good time and although it was still quite cold we relaxed with a cup of tea while staring at the distant dolphins playing out in the ocean.

Stats

12km in 7 hours including all rest breaks, lunch stops, slips on the muddy tree roots etc

Ironbound Ranges

Louisa Bay from a rest stop on the Ironbound Ranges

south coast track Ironbound Ranges

Another rest stop at the high point of the Ironbound Ranges crossing

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Valerie on the slow, muddy, slippery descend through the rainforest

south coast track

View from the Campsite at Little Deadmans Bay, taken shortly after some Dolphins were swimming in the distance

South Coast Track Day 5

We set off from the campsite alone today as all the others that crossed the Ironbound Range with us on the previous day were having a rest day to fish, dive for crayfish and Abalone and drink tea. There were some mud sections early as the worst of the mud was knee deep and at times why bother even trying to avoid the mudholes, just plow right on into them.

By mid morning we were walking Prion Beach, the longest beach walk for the trip. Its amazing to walk on a deserted beach with no other footprints. All the previous days footprints were either blown away by the wind or erased by the tides. Every so often I had to walk backwards to take in the view from behind, which included the now cloud covered Ranges. Near the end of the beach we had to cross the New River Lagoon by row boat, a distance of about 200 meters. The strong wind made it difficult for Valerie, who was rowing this crossing, as I rowed across Bathurst Harbour a couple of days earlier. She will not be representing France in rowing at the Olympics.

Osmiridium Beach

We had lunch at the campsite and continued to a little visited beach campsite called Osmiridium Beach. The water in the creek was only just flowing and was the colour of a strong cup of tea, almost coffee, but tasted fine. The campsite was littered with rubbish from people too lazy to carry out there used wrappers or bottles. Seriously disappointed me to see it. When I went to the toilet, which incidentally has not only a great view but is great for birdwatching, I looked into the pit and noticed that people started to use it a rubbish bin. Once again disappointed.

We walked to the beach for a swim in the afternoon but a combination of cold water and strong seas meant a short dip was all that we did.

Stats

13km in 6 hours including all rest breaks, lunch breaks, photo stops and rowing backwards and blaming the wind breaks!! haha

South Coast Track

The South Coast Track has some very muddy sections, some people just charge on through, some take to swinging in the trees

Prion Beach south coast track

Prion Beach with a storm covered Ironbound Ranges behind

Prion Beach south coast track

Prion Beach and hiking with no boots through the sea

south coast track

The row boat tied up on the eastern end of the New River Lagoon crossing

Prion Beach and New River Lagoon

Prion Beach and New River Lagoon

Rubbish left at Osmiridium Beach Campsite

Rubbish left at Osmiridium Beach Campsite

South Coast Track Day 6

The plan was a short, somewhat lazy day for the hike to Granite Beach, the planned campsite for the night. First stop was Surprise Bay. Valerie knows why it got its name. She was ‘Surprised’ twice by incoming waves. She was not paying attention. Although it was hilarious at the time, if the tide and seas were angry it could have been much worse that wet shoes, socks, gaiters, shorts and shirts. First while crossing between two rocky outcrops she was busy filming with the GoPro when she was caught by waves. The second time at the other end of the beach where there is a rivulet she was caught again. Once you’re wet you’re wet.

The campsite at Surprise Bay was great, overlooking the beach, headlands and Ocean. We stayed and made a cup of tea over and long slow lunch then wandered towards Granite Beach. It took us 45 minutes to get to the beach. Almost as soon as we entered the beach we saw what we thought was either a beached Whale or a dead Seal. It wasn’t until we were right next to it that we noticed that it was a very alive female Southern Elephant Seal, which doesn’t seem to make it to Tassie very often. She was angry at our intrusion and after the photo session we left her in peace and continued along Granite Beach to the campsite. A Spotted Quoll which sometimes goes by the name of Tiger Quoll frequented the campground, I love seeing wildlife and have been so blessed on this trip so far.

Stats

8km in 4 hours including all rest breaks, tea brewing breaks, wildlife viewing breaks and getting swamped by the sea breaks to dry wet boots!!

Surprise Beach south coast track

Surprise Beach and one of the areas that drenched Valerie when she was not looking at the incoming waves

Surprise Beach

Tea break at Surprise Beach Campground

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Spotted Quoll Tiger Quoll

Spotted Quoll also known as the Tiger Quoll at Granite Beach Campground

South Coast Track Day 7

It promised to be another slog day today. Lots of mud, tree roots and general slow travel. Valerie and I had light backpacks by now and made quite easy work of the track. By the time we made it to South Cape Rivulet it was lunch time. We traveled fast over the mud holes and tree roots on this day. We know that many other people have had some real struggles on this day.

Some people take 10 hours to make it from Granite Bay to South Cape Rivulet. It was early. We still had tonnes of energy.  We decided to push on and see if we could walk to the end of the track today. By the time we were at the last beach and past Lion Rock it started to drizzle. As soon as my rain gear was on the rain stopped. The track was great. We made it to Cockle Creek by 5pm.

Stats

20km in 9.5 hours including all rest breaks, lunch breaks, photo stops and needlessly stopping to put on rain gear stops.

So ended our 166km Journey from Scotts Peak Dam, the Port Davey Track and the South Coast Track.

Granite Beach

The view while hiking from Granite Beach

Southernmost Point in Tasmania

Southernmost Point in Tasmania in the background and the last day of our hike

While walking to the free campsites at the end of the walk I saw a familiar looking VW Campervan. It belonged to Laurence and Jen. We had walked the Overland Track with a couple of weeks ago. I knew they would be in the area and they knew we were in the area, but not sure when or if we would meet. The greetings were warm and so was the hospitality as we were feed with copious amounts of food and drinks. We camped with them for the rain soaked night and as public transport was days away they gave us a lift to Dover from where we hitched a lift to Huonville and the local bus to town.

Jen and Laurance at the free campground at the end of the hike at Cockle Creek, so civilised

Jen and Laurence with Valerie at the free campground at the end of the hike at Cockle Creek, so civilised

On this trip of only 11 days we covered 166km and we both lost 3kg in weight. We ate all the food that we bought with us except the last meal at Cockle Creek. Laurence and Jen were kind enough to feed us. We were never hungry (although I craved a fresh foods).

The weather on the trip was exceptional The rain was short and never enough to make us regret being outdoors, if anything there were times it was very hot and water consumption was high. Highly recommended walk.

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5 Responses

  1. Manny Hendra

    Thanks
    Great review, I did the same trip over Christmas and didn’t take a camera so good to see your images.

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