Monday, 12 January 2015

The Overland Track (Tasmania)

Tasmania has a number of iconic walks and some wonderful places to explore. A significant part of the state is World Heritage listed. Last January Trevor and I spent a week walking in Tasmania and I was keen to return to tackle The Overland Track.

The Overland Track is 60km long, without the many possible side trips, through the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

I elected to do the walk with Cradle Mountain Huts. This meant that there would be a warm shower at days end, a comfortable (bunk) bed and good food provided along the way along with 2 guides. Very civilised.

Day 1 commenced with a pickup at 6:45am from the Sebel in Launceston. Supposedly we should have had breakfast before being picked up however getting breakfast in Launceston before that time on a weekend was much easier said than done.

From Launceston we headed out to Quamby, the base for the Cradle Huts Walk. Most of the group picked up packs while we were all issued with a waterproof/warm coat, sleeping bag sheet, pillow case, pack liner, lunch in a plastic container, a fork and our overland pass. During the season there are tight controls on the number of people allowed to walk the track with a mere 60 permits being issued each day.

Back on the bus we headed out to Cradle Mountain with a toilet and coffee stop along the way. The coffee stop was well organised with our orders phoned ahead. Our drinks came in a robust lidded mug that we were to carry over the coming days for hot drinks at lunchtime and also a souvenir of the trip.

There were a couple of briefings before we were let loose on the track. The first was at Quamby and the second was in the carpark at Waldheim, our starting point in Cradle Valley.

Our guides were John and Kat. As well as walking with us for the duration of the trip they will be providing all the food. It was great to get a hot drink with lunch. This was a nice touch - one we had really appreciated when walking with World Expeditions.

The hut at Crater Lake where we all went for a swim or paddle
Much of the walk until about an hour after our lunch break was along tracks that I had walked last January. From Waldheim through to the point at which the track heads out beyond the climb up to the summit of Cradle Mountain was walked last year (see January 2014 entries in this blog for more information).

Looking down on Dove Lake from Marions Lookout

The ever present Cradle Mountain

Once on the "new" track we circuited Cradle Mountain. The views were amazing. The flora, while not quite as prolific as the later part of January of 2014, was still wonderful.

There were a number of conifer species in evidence. Some were prostrate, others upright but short and later some huge specimens.
Some of the low growing conifers near the track

Detail of one of the many conifers ... complete with a cone
Once beyond the Cradle Mountain summit track the walkers thinned out although it was surprising just how many non Overland Track walkers there were.

Barn Bluff was the other peak that dominated the days walk. Our hut was tucked in just below this peak

None of the climbs were overly taxing although some of the track required care with step variations, rocks and mud. All to be expected.

The weather was fine and quite warm, almost hot.

I did run out of water. I had put 1 litre in my water bladder and filled by 500ml bottle but ran out before arriving at the hut.

After turning off the Overland Track to get to the hut along a boardwalk I and the couple I was with encountered two snakes. Fortunately our snakes got off the boards and disappeared. Not so for our guide John who had a close encounter with an upset snake that struck at him even though he had followed standard snake protocols when he encountered it.

We were greeted at the hut by John who showed us all the important places: toilets, boot (wet) room, showers and the community area. Room claiming came later.

Tea, coffee, water and juice greeted us in the communal room along with cheese, crakers and a fruit and nut mix. All very pleasant.

While the group was showering and otherwise relaxing following the days walk it started to rain and the temperature began to fall. This was of little concern to us as we were inside the hut snug and dry.

The first of our snug huts

The distance walked was about 12km.

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