The Overland Track

I’d been dreaming for years of spending 3-4 weeks in Tasmania and hiking some of the less visited iconic walks, the South Coast, Western Arthurs and alike. But as the years rolled on and I struggled to find the time, I realised it may never happen. At least I could get a taste of the Tassie bush, by walking the Overland Track.

Somewhere between 30-60 people start their walk each day during the season. That is a lot of people to deal with for a person who is used to walking by themselves or with one other person.

A creek in the enchanted forests

As it turned out, the people I met each night, were some of the nicest people and made the walk even more enjoyable. By the time we reached Pelion Hut, everyone was at ease and a comradery developed over the coming days that brings a smile to my face thinking about it.

Day 1: Cradle Valley to Waterfall Valley Hut

Started about 10:00am from Ronny Creek Car Park on Saturday, 30th of March 2019. After traversing Cradle Valley, you walk up to Marion’s Lookout via Crater Lake. Its steep in places but not as hard as I thought it would be. Once you reach Marions, you get your first views of Cradle Montain. It’s an outstanding view and one of the best on the walk.

Cradle Mountain from Marions Lookout

I swapped selfies with a French girl and met and chatted with Andidna while we eat lunch. I recognised her pack as probably the heaviest pack I helped drag out of the trailer on arrival. I wondered how the smallest person on the bus, was going to handle such a heavy pack over 7 days. Turned out she handled the pack no worries and was the trail-blazer of the group!

I mentioned it would be nice to see some snow on the peaks and about half an hour later, it was snowing. Be careful what you wish for. I reached Kitchen Hut and there was a guy outside, Duct-tapping the heel of his shoe. Inside were groups of unprepared walkers seeking shelter and staring at me, so I didn’t hang around and keep walking to Waterfall Valley Hut.

Small Tarn on the way to Waterfall Valley Hut

On arrival it was raining and I was welcomed by two volunteer Hut Angels who gave me the rundown. After setting up camp, I went into the hut, sat down next to a couple of guys and started to prepare dinner.

Typical muddy track

Turned out Phil, who was sitting next to me, was the guy whose shoes had parted company from their soles. One of the Hut Angels had given him some glue which he hoped would work. Andidna joined us at the table and along with Phil’s mate Mark, we four became a gang of sorts. Catching up most nights for a laugh, some company and a meal together.

Day 2: Waterfall Valley Hut to Windermere Hut

It rained all night and stupid had set his tent facing the prevailing breeze, which meant I had to have the storm flap down and the condensation inside the tent, was the worse I’d experienced. Not dripping but very wet on the inside of the tent.

It was a short walk today, so I had a sleep in and headed off mid-morning. It started with a beautiful walk, traversing the slopes of Barn Bluff.

Cloud clearing from Barn Bluff

Eventually I walked up onto a plateau that was cold and windy, with horizontal rain blasting my face. I walked straight past the Lake Will Track without giving it a second thought and continued until I reached a rocky outlook. There I met a Ranger sheltering behind some rocks, trying to get reception to ring his girlfriend. Fortunately the weather cleared a little to afford a nice view over the lakes. I could even see Lake Will.

We chatted for a while, I was interested to find out the type of lifestyle he lived, working in the park. I walked further down hill and had lunch, protected from the weather by a rock and shrubby tree.

After lunch I headed down into a valley and followed the boardwalk to Windermere Hut. On arrival, all the tent platforms were taken! Someone mentioned there were platforms further on, so I walked a bit further and found the best campsite, surrounded by Pandani. I was happy with my find and decided I would spent the evening around the tent and not bother with the hut.

Day 2 campsite

Day 3: Windermere Hut to Pelion Hut

I left a bit earlier and headed for River Forth Lookout. The walk across Pine Forest Moor has fantastic views surrounded by mountains and valleys with Mount Pelion West pointing the way . In fact the views from the track were better than the lookout. Not being used to walking in groups, it didn’t cross my mind that everyone would drop by while I was having breakfast. I felt like a bit of a show off, cooking fresh eggs with Salami, cheese and Mountain Bread. I did get some time to myself to enjoy the sunny morning away from the breeze once everyone had passed.

Continuing on, you walk up into the most enhanted forest of Moss and Lichen, the like I had never seen before. I switched to walk slow mode and could have spent all day in that magical place.

Eventually the moss and lichen gives way to a more typical forest, which heads slightly downhill for a way before reaching Frog Flat. Frog Flat is on a large creek and surrounded by the same enchanted forest. Looks like an idealic place to camp except it was a bit mossie infested. I joined Andy, Mandy, Mark and the girls for lunch and hung around a bit longer after they left. It was still early in the day so I decided to push on to Old Pelion Hut.

It was an easy walk to the Old Pelion Hut turnoff, then a few minutes to the hut itself. I had planned to camp there but couldn’t find a decent site. I was also tempted to sleep in the hut but being an emergency shelter and in clear view of Pelion Hut, I thought, whats the chance a ranger will see me and give me a hard time.

So I decided against sleeping there and sat back against the hut in the afternoon sun and read a book about the hut itself. It was a good read and mentioned a Copper Mine, so I went exploring and found the mine following an overgrown track.

Entry from an old Old Pelion Hut Log Book

That was a nice cruisy afternoon and I headed to Pelion Hut while enoying the view of Mount Oakleigh.

I got to the hut and a couple of the older blokes offered that I stay in there room which was nice. I unpacked my gear on the bunk, only to find I had left my toilet paper and soap back at the last hut!

I was panicked, maybe I could use the sawdust in the toilets or the glossy pages from my guide book, not great but doable. Maybe I could just not eat for the rest of the walk. I went outside and asked around.

Someone mentioned the biggest leaf they’d seen was only a couple of centermeters in size, not funny at all. I went back inside and there on a shelf, was my plastic bag with the toilet paper and soap. Thankfully, Mandy had found it and carried it on to Pelion.

Mt Oakleigh Sunset from Pelion Hut

Sleeping in the hut was a lot better than I thought it would be. Once everyone went to bed, it was quiet and I got a good nights sleep. The only thing that worried me was the fact that I’m a restless sleeper and my Xlite pad seemed about 50dB louder in a hut than it is in a tent. Sorry about that chaps.

Day 4: Pelion Hut to Kia Ora Hut

Walking up through another enchanted forest to Pelion Gap, I was convincing myself I wouldn’t climb Mt Ossa, I’m not fit and I didn’t want to destroy my knees on the way down. I had another 2 days walking ahead of me. I cant risk climbing Mount Ossa.

I reach Pelion Gap, have a snack, get my daypack ready with a plan to walk Mt Doris, which also has excellent views. I’m climbing on the boardwalk when a couple of track contractors storm up behind me. We start chatting and I’m walking behind, quizzing them about their lonely amazing lifestyle. Just as I’m thinking I cannot keep up any longer, they stop and reach for their phones. The reception was good, so I leave them and keep walking, as they ring home to loved ones.

The wooden stairs give way to rock pathing which is a delight to walk and of amazing quality. As you traverse around Doris you are greeted by this unbelieveable view of two pinnacles reaching for the sky and a steep track that ascends towards the tors and then onto Mount Ossa. After seeing that it took about 5 seconds to change my mind. Looks like I’m climbing Mount Ossa after all.

The Track to the Mount Ossa Summit

I bump into Mandy and Mark at the saddle and then start climbing. Andidna is the first I pass on her way down, followed by Mark and Phil, Andy and the girls, Team Tiawan and finally a French couple before reaching the top of Ossa, with no one else around. Truely awesome, with expansive 360 degree views. Everywhere you look are mountains, valleys and mountain ranges. Not sure how much of Tasmania you can see from up there, but it must be a fair amount.

Finding a place, with a view and away from a light but biting breeze, I relax, have lunch and study the magnificent views. After more than an hour, its time to head down, to make sure I have plenty of time to get to Kia Ora Hut.

I did trip over after the steepest section and hurt my finger but not badly. I took it easy, nursing my knees with the help of a trekking pole and it didn’t take long to get back down. Reaching the Overland Track, I had another chat with my contractor mates before heading to Kia Ora Hut.

Mt Pelion East on the way back to Pelion Gap

Day 5: Kia Ora Hut to Windy Ridge Hut

It was raining a bit so I slept in and went up to the hut hoping to find some quite time but as it turned out, Team Taiwan were thinking the same and hanging around playing cards.

I guess it was after 11:00am when I left and just as I did, it stopped raining, nice. I can’t remember a lot about the day because by this time, your mind kind of stops thinking. Your just thinking of the next step and the amazing place you’re walking through and not much else.

Hartnett Falls

I do remember walking to Hartnett Falls. Andy had been talking about going for a swim, so I thought it best to leave them be and head for the bottom of the falls. Its a classic waterfall and before you reach the falls, the walk along the river, is every bit as impressive as the falls themselves. On the opposite bank there is a cliff covered with Mosses and Ferns. Every which way you turn, you seem to find amazing places.

River walk to Hartnett Falls

The walk to Bert Nichol’s Hut was uneventful but I remember arriving and seeing everyone sunning themselves and feeling very comfortable in each others company. We started off as a group of strangers and were now all friends, as we sat with The Acropolis towering above us.

Enjoying the afternoon Sun

Day 6: Bert Nichols Hut to Echo Point Hut

It was a cold night. I was camped under some trees and didn’t realise just how cold, until I walked up to the hut. There was a deep frost on the ground and ice around.

I headed off early, well early for me and headed to Narsissus Hut thinking I might walk to the end of the track at Cynthia Bay. I sidetracked onto some flats to take photos of the frost and arrived at Narsissus in good time for an early lunch.

I eventually headed on to Echo Point thinking it was an average walk but it was very nice. Similar to the other forest walks, not quite as enchanting, but tree ferns started to appear now and the occasional view of the lake made for a pleasant walk

First good view of Lake St Clair

Echo Point is such a pretty little place, it didn’t make sense to soldier on when camping next to the lake looked so inviting. The hut is smaller than the others with 4 double bunks. It also has a coal heater.

Sunset at Echo Point

It was a funny evening in the hut with Arthur, Michael and Phil (#2) and young Darcy. Their banter had me in stitches of laughter. A perfect last night in a rustic hut, with good company and a warm fire.

Day 7: Echo Point to Cynthia Bay

I headed off with the Darcy gang the next morning, yo-yoing with them but we all came together for the last couple of kilometres and walked into Cynthia Bay together.

After signing off, I walked into the cafe to a cheer from all those who had caught the Ferry that morning. As others arrived, they recieved the same cheers and laughter. We all said our farewells, a final group photo and then everyone wondered off in different directions. It was the end of a great walk.

A fine bunch of people

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