Hiking the Overland Track is regularly quoted as the best multi-day hike in Australia. After spending 8 days bushwalking the Overland Track, who am I to argue.
Overland Track – Things to know
- The Overland Track has great wildlife spotting opportunities
- The beauty of the trail is taking the side trails to places like the Top of Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Mt Ossa or The Acropolis.
- Most of the huts on the trail are rather comfortable and make for a nice social hiking experience
- The trail can sometime be crowded, but not like many other hikes around the world
- The trail is expensive, it cost me over $500 for my 8 day hike
- The weather can be questionable if not dangerous, many people have died on this hike. Do not underestimate how bad the weather can get, even in the middle of summer.
- There’s lots of boardwalks in the worst muddy section of the trail.
- At the end of the blog post I have information on gear, transport, guidebooks and more.
Hiking the Overland Track
Day 1 Overland Track
Due to the poor public transport in Tasmania I arrived at the start of the hike at around 1pm. The permit registration was quick and simple. Before setting off on the hike I checked out the gear store. For any hiker that forgot to bring a rain jacket, gloves or any other essential piece of hiking gear, there was no excuse. It was well stocked with quality gear.
I took the supplied transport to the shores of Dove lake for lunch. I packed out a Subway sandwich that I purchased in Davenport earlier in the day. The weather was crisp but clear and I was looking forward to the hike.
I took the steep ascent to Marions lookout and kept going till I made it to Kitchen Hut. While there I met Valerie and Sonia. Valerie was a keen bicycle traveler like myself and she had stayed with me in my home town of Darwin several months earlier. They arrived a day earlier than me and set off in the morning to climb Cradle Mountain at a more leisurely pace. After greetings I stored my 20kg backpack in the nearby hut to prevent the cunning Currawongs from raiding my food stores. They have learned that all backpacks have food and they have become skilled at opening zippers.
The climb to Cradle mountain didn’t take too long and I was greeted with a 360 degree views. I will let the photos below replace the thousand words that I could use to describe the views of the highlands. After time of self reflection and a start to the trip that promised only good things I descended and made it to the Waterfall Valley Hut, my first camp for the night. Although I carried a tent I chose to stay in the hut and socialise with the others.
After dinner several of us went searching for nocturnal wildlife and sighted a wombat and several wallabies.
Total of 12km in 5 hours including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 2 Overland Track
After a rather sleepless night due in part to my lack of earplugs we set off early to climb the dominating Barn Bluff which towers above the campsite and was a 7km round trip. The weather forecast for the next couple of days dictated our hiking plans. There was a low pressure trough approaching in a day or two and any side trips to the peaks would have to happen now while the weather was calm and still.
Myself, Valerie, Sofie, Doug and Keiren (I think) from Broome, Jennifer and Lawrence from New South Wales, Doug the Canadian and the 3 other backpackers set off. The other 25 or so people decided to keep walking the track and not take this deviation. The climb was not so difficult, over broken boulders near the summit, but a little easier than the climb to Cradle Mountain in my opinion. Others thought the climb was more difficult. Once again the views were stunning over the alpine region with many lakes visible.
By lunch we were back in the hut for a quick feed and drink before setting off to our overnight destination of Windermere Hut. It was 3pm when we all arrived. The hut is located next to Windermere Lake. After dinner several of us went for a short walk in search of Platypus or Wombats. All we found were Wallabies and a couple of noisy Green Parrots.
15km in 8 hours including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 3 Overland Track
The weather today started to take a turn with drizzle and a bit of wind. It was just Tasmania telling us that good weather doesn’t last too long. the trail crossed the alpine regions with sections of soggy moorlands, damp rainforest and dryer forested areas. Valerie heard a noise in the bushes, it was an echidna. It disappeared in the thickly wooded scrub before we could get close to photograph it.
I am so impressed with the contrasting changes of the scenery on the hike. Our hut for the night is the large and spacious New Pelion Hut, which afforded great views over the buttongrass plains to Mount Oakley. As the weather was holding off, just, we went for a walk to the Old Pelion Hut for a look. Some brave soles went swimming in the nearby river, I wet my feet only and they felt like they were going to fall off, I’m not acclimatised to the cold yet!
19km hiking including side trips to Old Pelion Hut in 5 hours 30 mins including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 4 Overland Track
The weather was crap. No other way to describe it. Crap, crap, crap. Rain, low cloud, wind, cold. The promised low pressure trough had arrived on time and as promised. We set of with all the best intention of climbing Mt Ossa, the highest mountain in Tasmania.
When myself, Valerie and Sofie arrived the wind, cold and low cloud were saying keep walking to the nearest shelter but I wanted to stay and wait for a while and see if there was any chance of a change in the weather. Due to Sofie needing to catch a flight to France she would have to keep moving and not take the detour so I bid farewell to both Valerie and Sofie. After about 15 minutes of waiting I decided that I would walk up the trail towards the summit and keep re-assessing the weather and turn back if or when it was beyond my comfort zone.
Climbing Mt Ossa
Canadian Doug, Ellie and Lachie from Melbourne joined me to try and make it to the summit of Mt Ossa. 30 minutes came and went. While the weather was crap I was not feeling cold or uncomfortable so kept climbing, so did the others. I was wearing thermals, fleece and gortex, along with by beanie and gloves. I was more worried about overheating and sweating too much which would make the cold worse.
After an hour we reached a gap between Mt Dorris and Mt Ossa. It acted as a wind tunnel with winds gusting to around 80km/h. The light rain was stinging my face. Once through the gap the walk was sheltered from the wind and the climb began. At this point it was Doug and I as all the other hikers turned around.
The broken boulder field had slippery rocks but we managed to pass them and make it onto the summit plateau. Visibility was non-existent when Doug and I made it to the summit. I guess we only kept going because we deemed it safe and that we were only going to the top because we were already so close.
Would have been great to see the view, but we were greeted with rain, wind and cloud. We raced back to Pelion Gap and then raced down to the nearby Kia Ora Hut. It was a small but cosy hut cosy that was full of cold wet hikers. After dinner I went to bed early. As my eyes started to close for the night there was a commotion. A fuel stove was knocked over. Flames spread across the bench and floor. Not a great sight in a wooden hut.
I was got out of bed and grabbed the fire blanket next to the door. With the help of the other hikers we smothered the fire. One hiker grabbed the fore extinguisher and was ready to spray the flames with the dry powder. I can only imagine the mess if that would have happened. But the fire was extinguished and I went back to sleep. Ah relief.
15km in 6 hours 30 minutes including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 5 Overland Track
It was still raining in the morning. The night had been very windy. The day had all the promise of the four seasons in one day type weather. Very typical of Tassie. The views of Cathedral Mountain and the Du Cain range were sporadic.
Made a short stop at the historic Du Cains Hut and then a side trip to Hartnett falls which provided a glimpse of a pumping waterfall. Shortly after crossing the Du Cain Gap I was stunned when I almost stepped on a Wombat. It was hiking on the middle of the trail. They are normally nocturnal but this creature was more interested in eating and walking than in my presence. I was within a meter of him and he didn’t seem fazed.
Within 20 minutes of the wombat we were at Bert Nichols Hut (also known as Windy Ridge Hut). A large hut that had views of nearby mountains such as The Acropolis which I hoped to climb.
11km in 4 hours 30 minutes including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 6 Overland Track
The weather was still not the best. I hoped to make another detour off the track to the area known as Pine Valley. The weather was still unpredictable. I wait until the turn off to make the decisions to make the side trip to Pine Valley. With potentially good weather I set off with Doug and two other hikers for Pine Valley and the Acropolis.
We reached the hut at 12pm. An earlier conversation with a ranger on the trail advised that the weather was clearing and would be good in the afternoon followed by a couple of days of fine weather.
Climbing the Acropolis
We were keen to make it to the summit of The Acropolis in good weather. Even though it was a late start we made a cracking pace up the initial steep track to the fairly flat ridge line. When we reached the area above the tree line the weather was clear and the summit was in view, things were looking good for us.
As we neared the last section it became quite a scramble and climb. It was unlike climbing Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff or Mt Ossa. It was not too difficult, although a couple of other people we passed failed to make it past the difficult sections. In the late afternoon we were all standing at the summit. The views were the best out of all the summits I had been on during the last week.
I had reception on the summit. I was able to check the weather forecast, sent / received SMS messages and book bus tickets for the end of the hike. Back to the Pine Valley Hut for what promised a great sleep, except the others in the hut had ideas of talking and laughing the night away, had I known I would have stayed in my tent for the night. Overnight karma had most of their backpacks raided by mice, my backpack was spared.
16km in 8 hours including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 7 Overland Track
I planned for a lazy day to Nacissus Hut, about 8-9km away. I reached the hut quite early and after a reunion with Jennifer and Lawrence who I hadn’t seen since Pelion Hut I kept hiking. Earlier in the day I was advised that 2 hikers died during the bad weather a couple of days ago. The numbers could have been higher as many hikers struggled with the bad weather and hypothermia.
By early afternoon I saw my first Tiger Snake of the trip and by mid afternoon I was camping on a beach next to Echo Point Hut on the banks of Lake St Clair. I even went for a swim in the far from tropical waters, although I did feel better for the dip I am in no rush to do it again. I spent the afternoon reading and socialising on the waters edge, with a platypus coming for an evening visit. Best campsite of the hike.
16km in 5 hours including all stops for rests / photos / lunch etc.
Day 8 Overland Track
A slow morning with the promise of a Hamburger lunch at the Lodge at the end of the hike. I set off with a little goal of walking the whole distance of 11km without a rest stop. I started the trail carrying 8 days worth of food with 1 spare breakfast and one spare dinner. My food weighed 8kg in total which was on the heavy side. I think I put on weight during the trip. My fuel was another 1kg. So it was that my pack was now much lighter on the last day .
My pack was about 11kg, very light in my opinion. (EDIT : My base weight is now down to about 6kg, click here for a review of my current gear list) With the exception of a brief stop for a photo or two of wildlife such as wallabies and echidnas or rainforest plants I completed the walk and rewarded myself with an Overland Burger with the lot! I camped in the nearby campground while I waited for the bus the following day.
Would I recommend the hike on the overland track?
Yes, absolutely. Be prepared for the wind, rain, snow, sun, sunburn. The National Parks Centre at the start of the hike they had a good selection of suitable clothing at reasonable prices. So if you are unprepared for the unpredictable weather, there is no excuse. Gloves, beanies, thermal tops and pants, socks, fleece jackets, rain jackets.
Transport to and from the Overland Track
Transport both to and from the hike is annoying.
- Public Transport to the Start of the Overland Track departs from Hobart, Launceston or Davenport.
- The National Park keeps an up to date register of transport options, Click here.
- There is a boat transfer option on Lake St Claire that many hikers choose to take. Information from Lake St Claire Lodge.
- Recommended guidebook for the Overland Track – Hiking the Overland Track: Tasmania: Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park (Cicerone Guides)
How much does it cost to hike the Overland Track
- Transport to the start of the trail (from Davenport) – $45
- Transport from the end of the trail (return to Davenport) – $100
- Park entry fees – $200
- Food for hiking – $135
- Meal at the lodge at the end of the hike – $25
- Total for 8 days hiking on the Overland Track – $502
Hiking the Overland Track is not a cheap option for most people. Transport costs are high and the park fees are very high, then there is the cost of getting to and from Tasmania!
Best Hiking Gear for the Overland Track
Looking to carry less weight when bushwalking?
Want to upgrade your gear to better lightweight options?
Check out these articles on all the best lightweight gear
Anyone interested in hiking should put this trail on their bucket list. It is certainly one of the world’s best hiking trails.
Have you hiked the Overland Track?
What was the best part of the trail for you?
Leave me a message in the comments section below.
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