5 Reasons to Trek the Overland Track in Tasmania
This iconic track is a nationally and internationally renowned walk, and a definitely recommended must do. Don't believe? Just Google!
- Meet people during the trek. Even if you do decide to go alone, there will be other hikers and the chance to gain new friends, share meals as well as stories along the way.
- This is your ticket to see the Tasmanian Wilderness Heritage Area—never will you see a location that holds this rich an ecosystem and many a natural wonder along the way (Skinks and snakes scurrying about; watch out!).
- Have other little triumphs by doing the side-trips. The ascent to the highest peak in Tasmania, Mount Ossa, is popular, but not for the easily intimidated, but the climb gives you bragging rights your whole life!
- The track is simply amazing! It isn't called Australia's premier bushwalk for nothing.
The journey through breath-taking valleys, forests, alpine meadows and fascinating land formations is worth its weight in pictures on the Overland Track, and you'll know for certain that if the trip was unforgettable the first time, it will still be after a few years.
The side-trips are still a thing to do, and there are a variety of them that you can tackle whilst on the Overland journey. Get the chance to discover hidden areas with waterfalls, streams, thick greens, trees, and shrubbery as well as mountain summits. You might encounter moderate to difficult detours, as some steep sections are abundant (like on Cradle Mountain and there's Marions Lookout which is definitely the steepest section on the track).
Meeting new people during the trek is a pleasant way of going about as certainly there are others opting to accomplish the same thing as you, and that's to finish the walk. And you will certainly share quarters in the camping huts or out on the camping platforms so might as well chat with others and earn friends. You might just depart to Lake St. Clair with a new acquaintance, which is not bad especially if you're doing it solo.
Some pointers though:
Registration at Basecamp is something you should NOT forget. It's for those "just in case" scenarios like if you turn out missing (which we don't wish for you of course but serves to be prepared for). Side trips can often be done after reaching the huts, junctions or stop points, so you can just leave the heavier bulk of your gear behind and carry a trusty daypack with the necessities like a jacket, food, water, first aid, etc. But don't forget to always tell people where you're meandering to, so they know where to find you.
The 65km stretch of the Overland Track is often a 6-day undertaking, but can take a day longer depending on whether you want to visit almost everything (and you certainly will be tempted to) in the area.
Day 1 usually starts with a moderate climb past Crater Falls and then Crater Lake, through the moorland cushioned with button grass. Take this opportunity to allow for some adjustments to your gear, testing for comfort and some other preparations especially since the steepness of Marions Lookout follows next. But don't worry; you will be rewarded with the exceptional beauty and legendary view of the landscape, the scenery changing as you head higher and higher! Then a sweet descend to Waterfall Valley, where huts and campsites await the weary walkers. Then you know the first day just ended, and the second one is soon to begin...
Break out the daypack and shake off the tiredness. You may choose to join the many walkers that head out to Cradle Mountain or Barn Bluff which is the fourth tallest mountain in Tasmania.
Day 2 is made for relatively leisurely strolls through the flats towards Lake Windermere, past alpine snow gums and other fauna, where Branigan Falls drops from the cirque. Then it's time for dibs at Lake Will, a popular rest stop before Windermere, where lunch is accompanied by the serene surface of the lake's waters.
The hut is just beyond the lakeshore, visible even from a distance. You won't be allowed to camp lake-side once at Windermere though, but there are designated camping platforms either side the hut to pitch, or if you brought the entire family, there's ample space to stand a family tent. Oh yeah, a dip in Windermere is a reward you might want to take. It's a nice refresher especially when the weather is a complete swelter.
Lake Will is a short walk along some timber planking, a border of sand and some remains of the coal mining guides will say were here during the 1890's. Now it's predominantly great for lunch breaks, rest stops and a little frolic. But a word of caution: you know Currawongs? You will never see a bunch smarter anywhere else than the ones here. They've learned to undo zips to access your pack contents! So don't fall victim and secure those bags before taking off to Lake Will.
Day 3 passes through Pine Forest Moor and more button grass moorlands before crossing Pelion Creek. Now another opportunity for those glorious snapshots is when you get through that rainforest heaped with myrtle-beech on the east, which is a gradual descent all the way to Frog Flats. They call this the lowest section of the Overland Track and for early turners, there's an available campsite here. But you may want to go further on to the Pelion Hut, out through open Eucalypt forests then on to more button grass plains and Mt Oakleigh just standing sentient north of the site. It would be more comfortable there, especially for families, since the hut can sleep about 36 people at any given time.
The historic Old Pelion Hut is worth the visit after arrival. It is one of the most aged structures in the area; the guide said it had been there since 1919, and once housed mine workers, then a few snarers and trappers after the copper mines were closed. You may use the hut for an emergency or overnight stay, and a swimming hole is nearby near Douglas Creek. We followed the foot track and found it in a secluded corner. The water ripples were a blessing to aching muscles.
Day 4 is the day for the mountains, and fittingly so because if you're itching for some challenging mountain time and have been dreaming to see all (well, almost all) of Tasmania from a stunning upper view, you'll get the chance on this day. Ascending through the rainforest just skirting Douglas Creek will have you emerging onto Pelion Gap which is an exposed plateau between the Mountains of Pelion East and Ossa.
Pray for fine weather if you want to attempt some side trips; by then all you'll need is a good day pack and guts and you're on your way up these tricky summits. But if the weather closes in, choose safety first rather than risk it. There had been deaths even in a moderate walk like the Overland Track, so it's better to just take the descent from the Gap to Kira Ora. The sight through Pinestone Valley and Cathedral Mountain treat you to an astonishing welcome, likewise is Kira Ora Creek a short distance from the hut.
Mt Oakleigh, Mt Ossa and Mt Pelion East are three side trips you can choose from, each peak as astounding, with varying degrees of difficulty. Mt Oakleigh has a fascinating view of almost the entire of Overland at summit, but as an alternative (if you fall short of reaching that high) you can simply shun the rest of the way and sit on some dolerite.The view is equally spectacular even if it's some 600-700m below the top.
Mt Ossa on the other is a steep scramble, being Tasmania's highest peak, but if you get through the rocky boulder fields (caution: extremely dangerous during rain or snow) and manage the height, the scenery is so worth being literally out of breath. But since time is needed to summit Mt Ossa (about 5-6 hours of daylight) and return to Pelion Gap, you might take to Mt. Pelion East instead; although the altitude is not similar to that of Ossa, you'll still see stunning views of most of the park's highest peaks.
Day 5 calls you to some serious opportunities to discover the rainforest as the track passes deep into one, bordering along the base slopes of Castle Crag where, although unseen, Mersey River tumbles from its stronger currents to little serene streams here and there. The walk breaks when you reach a small clearing where Du Cane Hut stands. But no long stays. Like the Old Pelion, this one's for emergency overnights only. Further on there's a track junction where you can leave the bulk of your gear as D'Alton, Ferguson and Hartnett Falls are just close by and you might want to visit them. Then forward to Du Cane Gap before making it into Du Cane Range whose bowl had been fashioned thousands of years before time by glaciers. From there you can reach Bert Nichols Hut and Windy Ridge, which is a location you'll remember, winding through trees, moss, little refreshing streams, miniature falls and wildlife.
Heading off to D'Alton,Ferguson and Hartnett Falls are nice side trips you can enjoy. D'Alton and Ferguson are close to each other, so a little descent through the rainforest to both is easy. Hartnett is not far away, just past narrow, rough tracks. Caution is needed though when heading out to these watery beauties. Slippery tracks, muddy paths and some sheer drop-offs are as abundant as the crawling critters around you. And the view is best appreciated when you're not bleeding from a wound caused by a slip.
Day 6 is the decisive part of the trek as most people find themselves finishing their Overland journey here. No more uphill though. It's just a kinder walk down the path towards Narcissus Hut beside Lake St. Clair where you'll likely encounter pockets of rainforest, some accompanying creeks and eucalypts, which signals that a return to civilization is now possible. You might continue on foot to Cynthia Bay, or might not.
Regardless, there's Mount Olympus with its dramatic backdrop to the golden glow of the moorland, and the duckboard which allows for some leisurely strolling until you cross Narcissus River via the only suspension bridge on the Overland Track. At Narcissus Hut, if you intend to catch the ferry, take off your pack, your boots and celebrate because you have now achieved something few have dared do. Oh, and don't forget to confirm your ferry booking using the hut radio as well as to sign out or de-register your walk, writing some reflections on your extraordinary escapade in the walkers' journal--it's very much allowed! Now the jetty a little further on is where the ferry will collect you. So congratulations! You have now made it through Overland Track!!
For those intending to take their time though don't worry. If you and your company are up for an additional go, another day of magnificent rainforest is ahead of you as you negotiate your way to Cynthia Bay.
Pine Valley Hut is a recommended walk through the moorland, and is a quaint place to spend an overnight stay. From there you can take another trek off to the Acropolis, which oftentimes is something most visitors to Pine Valley Hut do. The boardwalk extends even there, and the view is spectacular.
Optional Day 7
The optional Day 7 is making way from Narcissus to Cynthia Bay, savouring the last strides across lichens, mosses, the damp earth and an ancient rainforest before it opens into a much younger eucalypt forest. The small, rural Echo Point Hut can be reached through here; you might like to spend an extra night, grab a portable chair and relax beside the lake, or just lazily browse about for tall ferns and other vegetation. You can also finally de-register here, and take pride in the fact that you have made it even farther than most would dare.
Related Reads: Some other versions of the Itinerary you might want to check out!
Who can take you there?
Being prepared comes handy in any outdoor trip or trek you plan on having, and although the Overland Track may require some modest/moderate effort and fitness in the most, you may want some assistance when going through its wilderness especially for first-timers.
Bookings are required for each walking season (that's between 1st October and 31st of May), and you'd only be allowed to walk North, from the Cradle, to South, to Lake St. Clair. You will need to pay the Overland Track Fee too (aside from the Park Entry Fee); they use this amount for the maintenance of the track. Now if you plan on taking that walk 1st of June to 30th of September, this said fee is waived and you'd only need to pay for Park Entry. You'll also be able to walk the Overland to and from both directions.
Initially, you may want to contact the Parks Wildlife Services in Tasmania or you could use this handy Booking System for a view of the availability calendar, that way you can avail of certain accommodations especially if there's a party coming along with you. Alternatively, you may also want to seek the services of special tour providers. Here are my favourite guys for the job (just a note: I'm not affiliated with them but I do love the way they do their stuff, so I'm confident that they'll make it work for you too):
- Tasmanian Expeditions - they include meals, permits, gears, fees, personal camping equipment (in case you find some of yours missing), group camping equipment, emergency provisions and the best professional guides around.
- Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences - another accredited operator, they offer multi-day walk tours as well as single day tours in Tasmania, including the one through the Overland Track. They accommodate groups as well as solo trekkers and know the trails like the back of their own hands, so you're guaranteed during the walk.
Climate in the Overland Track
Overland Track's climate is generally unstable, so it's common for people to say they've experienced snow, mud, rain and sun all in one day on the track. Temperatures can range from hot (35°C and up) in summer to below zero in winter, with snow falling anytime during the colder seasons. Cradle Mountain Plateau and the surrounding areas of Mount Ossa are especially susceptible to snow.
Rain is also very common, and torrential. It's usual therefore to see days ranging from just drizzling to heavy downpour and, like anywhere else in Australia, extreme weather events can occur at any time of the year in the Overland.So don't be surprised when you're greeted by blizzards and heavy snow fall in mid-summer, or sunny, mildly dry winter days. You can check weather reports before embarking on the walk, however, this can be a bit deceptive as it is common for the weather to just shift out of character. Thus, you may be drenched part of the day and then, without preamble, sunny and warm in the remaining.
GEAR: What Personal Items to BRING
Summer (the minimum)
Start with a good pair of walking boots (above the ankle support, preferably leather or something comfortable for you since of course most of the time you'll be walking; also make sure the pair you have on is durable especially for shifting weather) and Socks (at least3 pairs, preferably those types that have a blend of synthetic and wool, one can be light liner-type socks, while another can be kept dry for the evenings.
Pants (or shorts as an alternative - best select those of synthetic fibre, no cotton please; after the trip you will find them useless, and hard to dry), additional underwear(two sets of synthetic or wool blend thermal underwear for day use; also save one heavier full length additional for night use (you can also go for other warm layering options—that decision is up to you entirely), and shirts or T-shirts; (synthetic or wool options work better than cotton). A jacket is also needed (preferably waterproof since it rains, shows, and sleets in the Overland; it's so often that you can hit and miss while guessing so you have to stay prepared).
Sunhat(baseball type or legionnaire style fits best under raincoat and you're trudging around with your pack) or a warm hat(like a beanie, the oversized, baggy ones work for the stylish).
Toiletries (biodegradable ones preferred; nothing harmful to the environment please).Personal medications, sanitary itemsanda first aid kit (just in case of emergencies; you can never be certain when they'll come handy).
Some Things You Might Want to Carry:
Camera (compact will get the most use; bring one that's waterproof); Sunglasses(polarised best for snow). I've seen others that have also opted to carry a small Book (nothing so bulky though; you may end up forgoing reading over some night-time chat with other hikers. So if it's not really, really, really important, leave it).
Swag or tent (there are many compact, lightweight options for you to choose from, but always make certain it pairs well with all the gear you're carrying. Now if you have a group tagging along, or if your family is with you, carry a family tent that has more capacity. You may want to try the strategy of assignment: one gets to carry the tent and in exchange, his/her other gear is distributed among the other members)
Sleeping bag (again, choose a lightweight option; or one good for two in case of couples).
Food (unless the food comes catered, like in the case of guided walks, expect to cook food by yourself. Now if you don't actually want to end up eating the same thing, you can always search for online menus--you will be surprised that there are actually many ways you can pack, dehydrate and preserve food, then still end up making and eating something delicious)
Water bottle with filter (for obvious purposes and because water is a necessity).
Fuel stove (the Overland is strictly a "no campfire" area, and the hut heaters cannot be used for cooking either, thus stoves are the only way to go when preparing food. There are many portable options to be had, but always consider how lightweight a stove is. You may also want to delegate the task of carrying it among members if you're going as a group to make it easier.) Bring as well some cooking and eating utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, mug, bowl...or you may choose something that combines one or two items, like a bowl that doubles for cooking, a spork, etc.).
Winter (the additional)
Additional heavyweight thermal underwear and some form of thermal pants for evening use;Balaclava(optional, for face protection) and a jacket (something thicker against the cold). You may also opt to add gloves and the entire winter armada into the mix, especially when there are kids, you will definitely need to play it safe.
You might also want to carry Dry Shells or sacks to keep your belongings dry even during the worst weather.
Hiking trowels and shovels are also some things you see being carried around by other walkers. Advisably, you may want to carry just some of the most basic gear. They do have gear hires in the Overland, where you can just pick up the ones you might have left or need; it saves you all the effort of hauling all your gear from home which sometimes prove to be a hassle.
Other ideas on gear and equipment:
REVIEWS: What others say of their Overland Experience
"Excellent" Reviewed 30 April 2011
"My daughter and myself did this trip and had a wonderful time. The first day is the hardest because of the climb to Marion's Lookout and you are carrying a full load. It is always pleasing when you see where your National Park fee is going and during this hike you will see how they are improving the walk with 'Boardwalks', huts well presented and clean toilets. Rangers are at most overnight stops to check your name and provide useful information. Finally take your time don't set your a tight time frame you need around 7 to 8 days and you will appreciate this beautiful wilderness. Put it on the "Bucket List". _KevinSully Visited May 2010
"The friendly walk." Reviewed 12 March 2012
"The Overland takes you through some spectacular country. In many ways the easist way to hike in Tasmania with well formed tracks, huts, toilets. In peak season there are plenty of people but they're friendly.
The track generally takes the easy way through valleys, leaving most of the mountains as side trips.
Beware though it is a track not a path through a garden.
Your need to be able to look after yourself in all weather, Tasmania can really turn it on. You need to train with your full pack over long distances and up steep hills. The weather can really impact on your perception of the walk. Hiking is often just a hard slog but if that doesn't put you off the Overland is well worth it.
Try to give it 8-9 days rather than blasting through in 5-6." _j j Visited January 2012
"Family Adventure" Reviewed 18 April 2012
"Our family completed the Overland Track in April 2012 - mum, dad and three sons (19, 17, and 13). We experienced everything from snow, rain, hail, sleet and sunny days. This trip will definitely go down in the "remember when we did the overland Track" family story book with many positive reflections on the scnery, the challenges, the achievements. Met some great and interesting people. We went unacompanied - carried everything - slept in tents and huts - fantastic!
Highly recommended - great to get away with the family without the distractions of TV, phones etc etc.." _ForrestFamilySydney Visited April 2012
"Hard work, but worth every bit" Reviewed 15 February 2013
"Hard to know where to begin. Some points:
The first day is hard work, but worth it, with spectacular views of Crater Lake and the walk through to Windemere (or you can stop at Waterfall).
The huts are basic and noisy, but convenient, and very sociable.
The track quality is improving every year but there are hard bits, so be prepared.
Enjoy - take your time, chat to people, it'll be one of the best experiences of your life.
Weather- sounds like Feb is it. We had one day of low cloud (therefore damp, but not raining per se) in five. Stop and have a swim. It's too nice not to." _Edmo1066 Visited February 2013
"Should be on everyone's bucket list" Reviewed 3 April 2013
"The Overland Track is world class, and should be on everyone's list. It is not a very difficult hike (for an experienced hiker) although you do need to be prepared for rapidly changing weather, at all times of year, especially from March to November. We usually do the hike in less than 6 days, but if you want to do all the side tracks, and perhaps explore Pine Valley, then you need a bit longer. The huts are great (although I prefer to camp, I am not that sociable!) and some are better than others, New Pelion and Bert Nicholls in particular. A hidden gem is Echo Hut, but only if the hike is not busy. I recommend everyone completes the full hike, as the last leg is beautiful, especially between Narcissus and Echo Hut. The Overland Track is quite beautiful, and the landscapes are spectacular, awe inspiring and completely peaceful. Be prepared for mud, hills, and a never to be forgotten experience." _55hermes Visited March 2013
Nothing beats the hard-earned experience of going through the Overland and making it out all right, but in the case before you do it yourself and wonder how other people's adventures went while on the track, we have compiled some blogs to help you get an idea:
- 7 Great Aussie Trails to Ease you into the "Great Outdoors" - This blog is written to highlight the Aussie trails we love the most, including the Overland Track. Includes fitness level indicators to show bushwalkers what it takes to make the these tracks (the Overland is placed under Moderate - approximately 10km walking per day carrying a full pack, according to the blog).
- Jude's Travels - This blog is a good read. It details the trip of some gutsy explorers as they take on the track, moving from clean to just dirty, getting amazed, surprised and wondering on the beauty of the Overland. It's humorous, and includes a lot of beautiful photos taken of the track.
- Bushbasher - A blog on how Matt Beamish, his wife and twin boys took on the Overland - under the snow nonetheless. Some nice family bonding detailed here.
- Bushwalking Treasure Box - The trip started from Narcissus Hut instead. Now this is amazing.
- Du Cane Traverse - Walking, Photography and Travel, traversing through Du Cane and it gorgeous spaces.
- Overland Track, Tasmania - 184 beautiful photos of the Overland Track and all its formidable beauty, with photos showing the Overland Track under a blanket of snow during winter
- Nele Andrew Around OZ - A couple's blog about their encounters on the Overland Track. Very lovely photos and remembrances.
- Photo Trekking - A photo .pdf of the Overland Track. Includes some great snapshots, some ideas and a lot of insight regarding taking on the track with photography .
- Dream! Go! Live! - Some really nice pictures accompanying the author's details of his bushwalk including getting spooked by a currawong (it's the one you see in the picture).
Or you can visit the official Overland Page by Parks & Wildlife. Know a lot before you make the trip.
From Snaps to Shoot: Overland Track VIDEOS
From Tasmania's Parks Wildlife Services, the official information video.
"Over 70 kilometers of Tasmanian wilderness in 6 days of strenuous bushwalking, takes in breathtaking scenery and significant challenges such as mountain climbs and contantly changing and unpredictable weather and track conditions.
This was my first bushwalk in over 30 years and I decided to go solo, just for the extra adrenalin. I was hardly on my own, as the track and the huts are heavily populated, but for most of the time I struggled alone with the very physical and psychological effort needed to survive. However, it was a life experience of excellence."
Overland Track Nov 2010 Part 1 by enduro2 (Wayne Eddy)
Part 1: Ronney Creek to New Pellion Hut. Seven hikers from the Perth Bushwalkers Club Inc banded to together to complete Tasmania's Overland Track and most side of it's side trips in about 8 days. The journey featured almost disappointingly fine weather dispersed with only two day of refreshing rain.
And here's Part 2:
Final Pointers to remember in the Overland:
- The wildlife might be cute, but still watch out for possums, devils and snakes especially since, well, ALL Tasmanian snakes are venomous. Never handle.
- Fuel stove ONLY area; no campfires please, and dispose of wastes properly. Let's protect the Overland so that the future generation can enjoy it as much as we do today.
- You will spend 3 to 6 hours walking, so pack properly, consider your equipment and carry only what is necessary.
- Water is drinkable but may still contain parasites and other contaminants. Ideally, don't get water within 100m of the huts. Use a filter, boil water or use a filtered water bottle if possible.
- Plan ahead and prepare. Read guides like our article to help you anticipate. And just be ready for anything. Life on the Overland is like life itself. You should learn to adapt to any form of change.
If you do decide to take on this gorgeous and challenging (in its own right) track, we'd love to know how it went for you! Feel free to share your experiences: Contact Us. So that's it, we hope you find our post helpful! Safe bushwalking Aussies! See you on the trails!!