Hike the iconic Overland Track

Rate this Adventure 49.7 miles 4773.6 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Jacinta Lang

Spend six days in the heart of the Tasmanian alpine wilderness, experiencing the rugged mountains, gorgeous forests, crisp lakes, diverse ecosystems and beautiful scenery the State has to offer - and perhaps meeting an endemic animal or few along the way.​

The Overland Track is a multi-day bushwalk located within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park that spans 80km from the Northern Trailhead at Ronny Creek to the Southern Trailhead at Cynthia Bay, located on the edge of Lake St Clair - Australia's deepest freshwater lake.

Along the way hikers will challenge themselves whilst experiencing both serenity of the Wilderness World Heritage area and the bustle which is brought to life by the busy fauna which is found along the track - including; possums, wombats, pademelons, wallabies, echidnas, Tasmanian devils, currawongs and eagles, just to name a few.

Transport

Due to the nature of the walk heading from Point A to Point B, the Overland Track can pose logistical issues when organising. There are however thankfully, quite a lot of options for those wanting to undertake the bushwalk!

Getting there by car:

If you have access to a vehicle, getting to the beginning of the Overland Track is quite easy!

The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre is located:

  • 320km/4 hours from Hobart (via Midland and Bass Highways) 
  • Or 155km/2.15 hours from Launceston (via Bass Highwa)

The Lake St Clair Visitor Centre is located 180km/2.5 hours from both Hobart (via Lyell Highway) and Launceston (via Poatina).

This being said if using your own vehicle, you will need to organise shuttling two vehicles between both the North and South trailheads (located about 3 hours apart), which can be a bit of a lengthy process.

The remove the hassle, there are a number of commercial operators that also offer transport between major cities and Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre/ Lake St Clair Visitor Centre. Some examples include:

A public shuttle bus between the Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre and Ronny Creek and Dove Lake carparks operates frequently to get you to the beginning of the Track.

Itinerary

Day 1 (Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley)

10km/4-5 hours

**Please note that due to current constructions taking place at Waterfall Valley Hut, it is closed and not scheduled to reopen until May 2020. Please contact the Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania for more information.**

Straight into it! As they say, day one is always the hardest. On your way from Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley you'll wind through buttongrass plains, myrtle beech forest and eventually up to exposed alpine peaks with scattered King Billy and pencil pines as you climb Marions Lookout (the highest point in elevation on the Overland Track - yippee).

From here there is lovely views down to Dove Lake and across to Mount Campbell.

Continuing along toward Kitchen Hut, an emergency shelter or nice snack stop, you'll find yourself with views of the iconic Cradle Mountain itself.

The track continues to skirt beneath the dolerite peak and along Cradle Cirque before dipping down to Waterfall Valley, your campsite for the first evening.

Keep an eye out for Barn Bluff in the evening, as on a clear night she looks stunning with a Milky Way backdrop!

Side trips: If you've got time on your side, good weather and some enthusiasm - why not summit the Cradle Mountain (2km/2-3 hours return) or Barn Bluff (7km/3-4 hours return) on your first day on the track!

Day 2 (Waterfall Valley to Lake Windermere)

7.8km/1.5-2.5 hours

After a big first day, day two will provide some relief (and a good chance to sleep in if need be). If you haven't already, today you'll find out why Waterfall Valley has it's name as you cross many creeks and hear plenty of nearby falls on your way to the next hut.

Strolling along the track, which is predominately duckboard and rocky trail, you'll be able to take in views from Cradle Mountain across the horizon towards Lake St Clair, and enjoy small tarns along the way. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may even spot a few Mountain Shrimp swimming around!

Lake Windermere is a picturesk swimming spot, however if you do choose to take a dip make sure you avoid treading on any of the nearby cushion plants, as they're a very delicate species that are unfortunately easily destroyed by humans compacting them.

Side trips: You'd need a good excuse not to visit Lake Will (3km/1 hour return) on your way to Lake Windermere, this gorgeous lake provides wonderful views to Barn Bluff and is a great place to view Richea scoparia when it's in flower.

Day 3 (Lake Windermere to Pelion Plains)

16.8km/6-7 hours

The longest day on the Overland Track will take you across vast buttongrass plains with spectacular views toward the Du Cane Range and surrounding mountains. If you have good visibility, you'll want take a look at the Fourth Valley Lookout before heading into the lush Pine Forest Moor to spot the wealth of brightly coloured fungi which can be seen from the forest floor to high up on the trees.

On day 3 you'll skirt along the bottom of Mount Pelion West towards Frog Flats, the lowest point in elevation on the Overland Track, before gradually ascending up towards your accommodation for the evening.

Side trips: Old Pelion Hut (1km/30 minutes return) is not one you'll want to miss, the quaint hut was originally used years ago by miners working in Pelion Plains/Mt Oakleigh area, however these days will give you an appreciation of how spacious the New Pelion Hut is!

Day 4 (Pelion Plains to Kia Ora)

9km/3-4 hours

Getting straight into the grind, you'll ascend 300m up through Eucalypt and myrtle beech rainforest to Pelion Gap. Heading down Pinestone Valley and through more buttongrass plains, you'll find the descent toward the wonderful Kia Ora to be quite a relaxing stroll.

Side trips: If you're going to tackle a mountain, today is the day! Mt Oakleigh (8km/5-6 hours return) with it's striking shape can be seen behind the buttongrass plains from New Pelion Hut. Located at Pelion Gap, you also have the option of ascending Mount Pelion East (2.5km/2 hours return) or Mt Ossa (5.5km/4-5 hours return) Tasmania's highest mountain! Please be aware that these peaks should not be attempted in poor conditions or snow, as due to the rocky dolerite terrain the track can become quite dangerous. Climbers should also note that the currawong population at Pelion Gap is plentiful, and packs left there may be subject to pick-pocketing by the inquisitive birds.

Day 5 (Kia Ora to Narcissus via Windy Ridge) 

19km/6-8 hours

Although you probably won't want to leave Kia Ora, when you eventually set off you'll absolutely fall in love with day five. Back into the bush, you'll make your way through the heathland below Castle Crag to Du Cane Hut (which originally was used by Paddy Hartnett, however now serves purpose as an Emergency Shelter or food stop by wanderers). Between Du Cane Hut and Windy Ridge/Bert Nichols Hut you'll have the opportunity to visit a waterfall or few (highly recommended) or take it easy and continue walking up to Du Cane Gap before descending through beautiful forest to the picturesk Bert Nichols Hut.

After having a snack to eat and admiring the view, you can continue the gentle walk to Narcissus along the river of the same name. Here, the vegetation changes into somewhat dry sclerophyll which is a pleasant surprise, continuing downhill toward a suspension bridge located a short walk from Narcissus Hut. Narcissus Bay is a wonderful stop for a cool dip if you're brave enough!

Side trips: Today is waterfall day! With Hartnett Falls 1.5km/1 hour return) Fergusson and D'Alton Falls (1km/1 hour return) all conveniently placed along the Mersey River, you'll want to leave your pack at the track junction and visit them all!

Making your way towards Narcissus you'll also notice a turn off to Pine Valley Hut (5km/2 hours one way) - this can be made into a side trip to explore the Du Cane Range's Labrinth, the Acropolis and Lake Elysia if you've got a couple of additional days up your sleeve.

Day 6 (Narcissus to Cynthia Bay via Echo Point)

17.5km/5-6 hours.

It wouldn't be the Overland Track without completing the whole walk would it! From Narcissus you'll continue on the forested track below Mount Olympus, on the edge of Lake St Clair to Echo Point which provides stunning views across the Lake to the iconic Mt Ida and Traveller Range. If you're bummed you didn't get a chance to swim along the track previously, here is another great place to take a dip with very rewarding views if you've got time up your sleeve.

Back on the track, continue on undulating terrain for another 11km until reaching Cynthia Bay - where the official end of the Overland Track and a big burger will be waiting for you!

Seasons

Summer - Most popular time of the year to walk the track. Spring has sprung so most of the alpine angiosperms are in flower and the weather has a greater chance of being favourable with less precipitation and warmer days, making it the perfect time of year to whip out the tent and plonk it on the platform for a bedroom with a view!

Autumn - During Autumn (well, the end of it) something amazing happens, it's called the turning of the fagus and if you ever get the chance to experience it, you're in luck! Nothofagus gunnii (or deciduous beech) is endemic to Tasmania, and during Autumn lights up the track with it's vibrant orange, yellow and red colouring. At this time of year there's less people on the track, and although it's definitely starting to get colder - you'll get some nice clear nights.

Winter - Definitely not for the fainthearted, Winter can certainly provide testing conditions to walk in with shorter daylight hours, cold temperatures, plenty of rain and snow (good incentive to arrive at the next Hut before dark so you can enjoy a nice warm brew). If you're looking for a challenge, experiencing the Overland Track during Winter will give you stories that will last a lifetime!

Spring - With the snow beginning to melt (maybe) and the flowers beginning to bloom, Spring is full of life, lush flora and bustling fauna without the business of the track during the warmer months. Make sure you pack a good raincoat though, it usually gets quite wet!

Bookings

Please be aware that all hikers undertaking the Overland Track between October 1st-May 31st must walk from North to South and are required to purchase a Overland Track permit and National Parks Pass to secure their spot on the Track.

to book their place on the Track and purchase a National Parks Pass. 

As at April 2020, the costs to undertake the Overland Track during this time are as follows:

  • Adults - $200 AUD
  • Children and Concessions - $160 AUD

Bookings can be made online with the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service at https://bookings.overlandtrack.com.au/.

Things you will need to pack

For a comprehensive list of all essential gear required to complete the Overland Track, please have a look at the PWS multi-day walking pack list. In addition to this, if you're into your flora, fauna and fungi I'd recommend getting your hands on a wealth of resources available to identify any species you come across. If you are going to have access to your phone whilst walking you can download the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's Field Guide to Tasmania Fauna app available on Google Play and Apple Stores.

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Swimming
Snowshoeing
Backpacking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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