OVERLAND TRACK, TASMANIA
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I had originally intended to try a winter crossing of the Overland track but various other commitments prevented it until springtime. Even so there were still remnants of snow left on the higher peaks which makes for interesting photography. The track is a familiar walk, having done it several times before, but even so there are always new aspects to appreciate.
One of the problems of planning such a trip from Melbourne, Victoria is to coordinate drop off and pick up times of public transport. For my own future planning (and others if needed) below at the end of the blog is a possible itinerary using public transport. The key is to fit in the occasional Tassielink bus services (currently Mon & Wed from Devonport as well as Tues & Thurs from Lake StClair - there are other times but they don't fit easily with other connections)
DAY 1 Melbourne to Cradle
I decided to splash out on a shared cabin on the Spirit of Tasmania rather than the usual reclining seat. This was a mistake! I retired to the four berth cabin around about 10:30 PM. My only travelling companion had already bunked down for the night and after an exchange of pleasantries I settle down for what I anticipated would be a refreshing night's sleep. Shortly after midnight there was a commotion outside in the corridor. The door opened, the light came on and two drunks began an animated and somewhat slurred conversation. "Yes, this is your cabin", "No, no these men are not your friends - they are sharing your cabin". Unfortunately the ladders to the two top bunks are not attached but stored behind the door. After fumbling around for a while in the dark, the drunk managed to clamber up to the top bunk above me, shortly afterwards an avalanche of personal possessions showered down on the floor. It was hour or so before he settled down to sleep accompanied by a thunderous snore.
DAY 2 Cradle to Scott Kilvert
The next morning, after a poor night's sleep, I lingered as long as I could knowing I would have to wait a few hours in West Devonport for the bus. Eventually, as the tannoy urged all passengers to leave the ship for the last time, I collected my possessions from the cabin and noted that my travelling companion was still snoring, fast asleep.
After collecting my gas canister on the pier, I was approached by someone who was also doing the Overland, who kindly offered a lift around to West Devonport. Thereafter the trip went smoothly enough and I began the walk around about midday. A conversation in the shuttle bus with the duty PWS Ranger persuaded me to change my itinerary. Instead of travelling to Waterfall Valley via Kitchen hut, I climbed up the eastern side of Dove Lake, over Hansons Peak and made for the Scott Kilvert memorial hut, a route I had not taken before.
The path was well formed and gives exceptional views of Dove lake, the Little Horn and Cradle Mountain. The weather was sunny and the forecast for the next two days was okay.
Looking back to Dove lake car park.
After Hansons Peak a short descent gives good views of the Twisted Lakes.
You can also see the face track which passes below the Little Horn and joins the Overland track near Kitchen hut.
There is a junction that takes you to Lake Rodway.
The Artists Pool on the way to Lake Rodway.
The Scott Kilvert memorial hut. The hut was empty when I arrived late afternoon. I thought I would spend the night alone which is often the case since, according to the Ranger, this hut is not frequently used. This was not to be. The hut soon filled up with three other parties.
DAY 3 Scott Kilvert to Windemere
The morning was clear, but cold. I had thought to make rapid progress underneath Benson Peak to Cradle Cirque and if there was time to climb Barn Bluff. However, the track was rough and the climb steep. This was not helped by a low haemoglobin count for which I was receiving treatment. And so the time taken from the hut to the Cirque was much longer than usual. Instead of doing Barn Bluff I spent time taking photos at the top of the climb. There were clear views to the south and you could see Frenchman's Cap quite clearly on the horizon.
I briefly stopped at Waterfall Valley hut and then made my way around the east side of Barn Bluff past the Lake Will turn off and on to Lake Windemere. Some unusual high-level cloud formations perhaps indicated some kind of weather frontal system approaching. I have only tackled the Overland track once in perfect weather. Every other time there has been a day or two of torrential rain.
On the track to Windemere
Looking back to Lake Will
DAY 4 Windemere to Pelion
The hut was reasonably full and I was slow out of the starting blocks, being almost the last to leave. There was another mature aged walker who decided to turn back at Windemere and return to Cradle Mountain. Her white spirit stove had caught fire the previous day nearly setting fire to the hut. Most of the rest of her food supplies needed to be cooked and she didn't have nearly enough readily consumed food to continue.
Looking back at Lake Windemere
Other walkers ahead
PWS have done a lot of track work on this section. Boardwalk has been installed along much of it making it a very easy walk especially crossing the Forth River climbing up to the Pelion hut.
The button grass plains of Pelion
I arrived at the Pelion hut in record time, disposing of my rucksack in one of the bedrooms and decided to walk out to Lake Ayr along the Arm river track. Again there is new track work since I last passed this way. I wanted to explore along the Arm river track because there is a campsite at the east end of Lake Ayr.
Also I would like at some future time to visit the Lees Paddock hut then through to Mount Ossa and exit the Overland track through the Never Never into the Walls of Jerusalem.
Walking out to Lake Ayr (new track work)
New Pelion Hut
DAY 5 Pelion to Windy Ridge
The previous night's sleep was not good – another loud snorer. I was determined to try to jump one hut in an effort to get a reasonable night's sleep. I also wanted to climb Mount Ossa, Tasmania's highest mountain. The weather in the morning had taken a distinct turn for the worse. Cloud had descended but had not yet covered the mountain. I eventually arrived at Pelion Gap. By this time the cloud was covering the top of Mount Ossa but not Pelion East. I felt pretty good at the summit of the saddle so disposed of my rucksack and headed up to Ossa.
By the time I had got to the saddle between Ossa and Doris the cloud had come down even more, the wind had picked up and the ground was icy. Reluctantly I turned around. In hindsight his was probably a good decision.
Pelion gap from Mt Doris with Mt Pelion East just in cloud
Soon after descending towards Kiora hut the rain started and set in for the day.
Old DuCane hut in the wet
By the time I reached Windy Ridge hut I was thoroughly wet on the outside but still dry on the inside. Little photography today.
DAY 6 Windy Ridge to Echo Point
A better night’s sleep and the prospect of better weather today.
Early morning view of Acropolis from Windy Ridge hut
Lunch at the new Narcissus hut. On my previous walk to the Acropolis I met with the carpenter who was in the process of refurbishing the hut. Inside his work was on view. A much better hut than it was ever before.
You can radio for the ferry at Cynthia Bay from here.
The jetty is about 5 minutes walk from the hut
After lunch I headed along the west side of Lake St Clair past the turnoff to Byron gap and made my way down toward Echo Point hut. I decided since the weather was good to camp for the night and make use the tent that I had brought.
Looking back up Lake St Clair to the Acropolis
Echo Point hut and camp
DAY 7 Echo Point to Cynthia Bay
In the morning the sky was clear and a low fog bank covered the far side of Lake St Clair. No rush today I didn't need to be at Cynthia Bay until mid-afternoon. Then look forward to a cosy night at the Drumlin bunkhouse before catching the bus to Hobart the next day.
The only surprise was an unwelcome tiger snake on the track.
The ferry service from Narcissus bay.
The visitor centre.
Day 1 Tuesday (13th October, 2015)
7 pm overnight Spirit of Tasmania from Station Pier, Melbourne
Day 2 Wednesday
Arrives East Devonport 6:00am. A walk around to West Devonport (3km) to catch 9:45am bus from Information Centre. Catch Tassielink bus to Cradle Mountain (arrives 11:45am). Register with PWS and then take free shuttle service to start of walk (usually Ronny Creek).
Walk to first Hut (usually Waterfall Valley)
Day 3 Thursday
Walk to second hut (usually Windemere)
Day 4 Friday
Walk to third hut (usually Pelion)
Day 5 Saturday
Walk to fourth hut (either Kiora or Windy Ridge)
Day 6 Sunday
Walk to fifth hut (either Windy Ridge or Narcissus (Ferry transport option) or Echo point)
Day 7 Monday
Catch ferry or walk to Echo Point or book one of the beds at the Drumlin bunkhouse at Lake StClair (warm, comfortable and cheap).
Day 8 Tuesday
Alternatively an early departure from Echo Point hut will get you back in time to catch the bus (allow 3-4 hours)
At Lake StClair catch Tassielink bus departs 11:45am arriving Hobart 2:30pm.
(From here you can pre-book airport shuttle to catch an evening flight out of Hobart same day).
This is a great walk!