15 Nov A perspective on The Overland Track
The wild heart of Tasmania, what a cracking part of Australia! The Overland Track is an 80km iconic Australian trek through the centre of Tassie in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Nikki and I had read about it many times so were keen to see what it’s all about. Many of the Joe’s Basecamp crew have asked what it’s like. Here’s a quick vid and our thoughts on a brilliant few days with packs on our backs and sun in our faces.
What are the headlines we took away from this trip?
- This is an excellent trek for anyone looking to kick off multi-day walking – regardless of how many days you aim for, you’ll be carrying 18-20kg packs so your back, legs and feet learn what it’s like to lace up each day and get on with it.
- If you’re new to this despite being “in the wilderness” it feels very safe, there are huts to head towards each evening and even if full there is plenty of space for camping (tents have to be carried in case of stranded in storms). I highly recommend carrying a personal locator beacon (we did) mainly for peace of mind if you’re unlucky enough to get bitten by one of the many tiger snakes (gaiters are a must too!).
- Doing this is in winter would be a totally different undertaking – something to tackle in future!
- It seems strange making the comparison to jungle but there are relatively steep sections in the forest sections that are very rocky and rammed with roots and this reminded me of sections of Kokoda where concentrating on foot placement when muscles are knackered is crucial. For anyone who is thinking about doing Kokoda if you get the chance to do Overland it would be great preparation to get to understand how your body works carrying heavy packs on long days for multiple days in a row.
- It’s a beautiful trek, the variety of landscapes squeezed into that distance is what makes it so good – windswept moorland, rocky climbs, lush moss cushioned rivulets, alpine scrub and lakes, thick woodland with treacherous roots, snake infested eucalyptus paths. The jagged chunks of Cradle Mountain, Mt Ossa and Barn Bluff accompanying you on the journey.
- You can squeeze it in a busy schedule if needed. Due to a prior commitment we did it in 3 days, most people take 6 days. What that meant was we sacrificed some of the side-trips such as climbing Cradle Mountain and Mt Ossa but it was good to do big distances each day, skipping the huts. Like 75% of trekkers we caught the ferry at Narcissus Hut to the end of Lake St Clair because as you can see from the elevation profile below the last ~15Km is fairly uneventful and even though the maps shows it skirting the lake there are apparently very few actual lake views.
- Certainly one of my favourite treks, I’d definitely recommend this local Aussie trek over The Larapinta Trail in my humble opinion.
- This is certainly a trek that I’d go on with my kids to introduce them to multi-day trekking – they’d need to be a little older than currently because they’d need to carry at least day packs but it would be a sensational and safe way to kick off their enjoyment of being out there.
- There is an 82km ultra marathon that takes places along the Overland Track called ‘The Cradle Mountain Run’ . How would this compare to something like the North Face 100? Well the elevations are a lot less and the large amount of planking that exists to protect the precious habitat would certainly make some sections relatively straight forward BUT… and there are 2 things that Nikki and I discussed that would make it a very hard race. Firstly, there are long sections in the woodland of wet, root covered trail that are very technical – there are hundreds of roots where the ground has eroded either side so the root itself is mid-shin. Needless to say if a runner stepped into that at pace…bingo… it would snap your leg easily. I never really encountered those root issues on TNF. Secondly, tiger snakes are legendary on the track and if walking and making usual amounts of noise don’t pose any real threat because both sides have time to get out of each others way but if you were legging it around corners and banged into one of these bad boys it could be very ugly very quickly. We encountered seven tiger snakes in one 3 hour section on the last afternoon between Bert Nichols hut and Narcissus Hut. We chatted with a local who was part of the safety crew on the run and he said that snakes aren’t a problem because of foot traffic up and down… but it sure would make me nervous. But what a great run it would be!
- If you fancy ending with a little bit of luxury then follow our cue and stay at the Pumphouse Point Hotel. Magnificent 🙂
- For the Joe’s Basecamp crew, the trek booklets and detailed maps are now on The Adventurers Club bookshelf.