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Day 1 – Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley (via Cradle Mountain)

As this was our first Tassie hike we weren’t sure what to expect.  We (as in Kerrie) had done a lot of research and we felt well prepared.  Our packs weighed in at 25kg (Alex) and 19kg (Kerrie), which would improve as we are going through the food.  Opting for solid hiking boots (Asolo’s for Alex and Keen’s for Kerrie), our bright orange 3 man tent (One Planet Goondie) and trusty Trangia stove as our base equipment.

We left our car and camper at the Lake St Clair Information Centre and having caught an organised trip to the start at Cradle Valley we were off on our adventure.

The sun was shining down on us and the first part of the hike gave us a hint of what was ahead.  The landscape was stunning, starting with a gentle uphill, past Crater Lake (with boat shed).


A steeper gradient (but not as bad as expected) brought us to Marion’s lookout, which provided our first 360 degree views.



Cradle Mountain in the background made us want to continue with more urgency and anticipation.


We left our packs at Kitchen hut and only took our daypack with a couple of litres of water and general stuff, like first aid kit and PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).  After all, this was only a couple of kilometres return journey.  How hard could it be?


It turned out a lot more challenging than expected, with what looked like some gigantic slate slopes to be navigated.  Kerrie’s walking poles became useless for the scramble (we should have left them behind for this one).


Although a bit tricky at times it never was really dangerous and there were no exposed sections.


Originally we thought Marion’s lookout provided great views, but the top of Cradle Mountain just blew our minds.  It seemed as if we were on top of Tasmania.  Kerrie reminded me at this point that Mount Ossa actually is Tasmania’s highest mountain and we would have to wait a few more days until we would be well and truly on top of Tasmania.





The way down was a lot faster than up, but all in all, including stops to take in the views, the couple of kilometers took us 3 hours return.  Yet it was definitely worth the effort and a must for anyone doing the Overland Track and capable of a bit of scrambling.


We retrieved our packs from inside Kitchen hut and enjoyed lunch with other OT hikers. Currawong birds have developed the skill of unzipping bags and getting to food, hence it is important, when your leave your packs, to make sure that they are inside a hut or to put the rain-covers on to ward of the clever rascals.


Also, note the door on the first floor of the hut.  This was a later addition and it allows entry into the hut even when the snow is piled up to the first floor.

Although Barn Bluff was beckoning, we decided to give it a miss this time around as we were running out of time.  Although I really would have liked to climb it, but then again I am known not to be the sensible one in the outfit.


Water was plentiful along the track and we never had to carry more than our 2 litres each.  To be on the cautious side we sterilised all our water using Aquatabs.  As it turned out we were going to meet a guy this afternoon with a bout of the trots.


Throughout the whole walk, we were amazed at how the landscape could change so frequently.  At times you are walking across flat grasslands, then half an hour later you would walk through a forest and soon after you could be on top of a plateau with awesome cliff faces.


Our first night's camp was at Waterfall Gully hut in the shadow of Barn Bluff.  I had the distinct feeling that the Bluff was calling out to me and I felt a bit sorry for not doing it.  But probably for the better.

At the huts, we opted to sleep in our tent as we go to sleep and rise with the sun.  It was great spending the afternoon with other walkers in our group and swapping stories.  Overseas hikers represented a large portion of our group, with people from Canada, Spain, Mexico, Germany, US and France, just to mention a few.  But all with the same interests.



Day 2 – Waterfall Valley to Lake Windermere (via Lake Will)

Greeted by another sunshiny day we set off through beautiful scenery packed with amazing wildflowers.



Today was a relatively easy day with one side trip to Lake Will, which is based on the other side of Barn Bluff.  Did I mention that I was a bit annoyed at not having ascended Barn Bluff?

Once again there were plenty of opportunities to replenish our water supply from the clearest sources.  Apparently, most cases of Giardia are from water tanks where people tend to drink straight from the taps and hence spreading the problem.



Lake Will provided us with our first wash, although short, due to the near-freezing water.  But once you were numb it was not too bad and we felt nicely refreshed as we pulled on our hiking clothes, which already started to be a little ripe.


After a leisurely lunch lakeside, we continued on, passing many more small lakes and alpine tarns (ponds) rendering us speechless at this amazing scenery.



Reaching lake Windermere just before the hut with the same name, we had the choice of another swim.  It took a whole split second for us to decide that the water looked just as icy as Lake Will and hence we declined the temptation.


This was our first campsite on a wooden platform and we had no problems setting up our tent using a few extra strings and the provided anchor points.  The platforms also turned out to be no problem for sleeping with our Thermarests providing enough padding.  Or maybe we were just too tired to care.



Day 3 – Windermere to Pelion

Today was to be our longest day distance wise so we set off early.  The track took us over buttongrass moorlands with fantastic views of surrounding peaks with the wind howling around us.



We hiked into the darkness of the forests with its mud and tree roots attempting to trip us up (which happened often!) and marveled at the beauty of moss-covered trees and a carpet of green underneath the trees.



Back out into the open, we had fantastic views from Forth Valley lookout and across the moorlands to Mt Pelion West. So much moss everywhere!



Shortly before arriving at Pelion Hut (our campsite) we detoured to Old Pelion Hut, dropping heavy packs at the junction.  The hut was built around 1916 and used by workers in the former copper mines. Life must have been tough.


And of course, we had to find the mine tunnel. It went about 50 metres into the hillside and was pitch black. Luckily another hiker lent us his torch!



On arrival at Pelion Hut (the newer version) we were greeted by an echdna nosing around for food,  They are sooooo cute!



After setting up our tent on a nice grassy site we went to check out Pelion Hut. WOW, now that’s luxury, several rooms with a huge dining area and a veranda with a view to die for! That’s Mt Oakleigh - our challenge for tomorrow.



Day 4 – 2nd day at Pelion climbing Mt Oakleigh

Can this landscape keep on giving - it seems so.  The morning mist rolled along the valley in front of Mt Oakleigh treating us to a spectacular start to the day - Kerrie’s Birthday!



After a relaxed breakfast, we left our camp with only a day pack ready for our ascent of Mt Oakleigh on our so-called ‘rest day’.


Not far after leaving we crossed a small suspension bridge before heading out onto the moorlands.


Once again it is amazing where things grow. Most signs are covered in some type of moss.


After a short walk across the moorland, we were into the forest and its giant tree roots.


Up, up and up we went. A short breather halfway up gave us fantastic views back over the valley and a lake we didn’t even know was there!


Eventually, we came out of the forest and had some amazing views as we scrambled our way towards the summit. Time for a morning tea break and Kerrie’s birthday cake - a packet of biscuits! And more amazing views of surrounding mountains.


Onwards - surprisingly down and up again to the summit and the obligatory summit cairn photo.


And now we were looking down at the spires of Mt Oakleigh which we could see from our campsite.




After enjoying a long lunch on the top on Mt Oakleigh we sadly made our way back to camp where we enjoyed cottage pie for Kerrie’s birthday dinner.

Now that was a serious ‘rest day’ - 5 hours of hiking 8km up a 1386m high mountain!


Day 5 – Pelion to Kia Ora (via Mt Ossa)

Today is ‘mountain day’ so the hike notes say.  And of course, as yesterday was a ‘rest day’ our legs are fresh and ready to tackle Tasmania’s highest mountain - yeah right!

The day began with a steady ascent of 300m elevation through the rainforest, and it’s uneven ground up to Pelion Gap.


At this point there are 2 options - Tassie’s highest mountain (Mt Ossa) or an easier, lower peak, so which do we choose? Of course, it has to be the highest.

A nice track leads us towards Mt Ossa.



We pass the most amazing cushion plants en route. These appear one plant but are in fact many plants growing together for protection from the harsh alpine environment.




After skirting Mt Doris the track up Mt Ossa becomes visible. We are headed up the middle of the 2 rocky knolls.



This is our view looking down as we ascended


Maybe it’s best NOT to look down!


Getting there, but this is hard work.


Made it - Top of Tassie!


And oh the views….. No words or photos will ever do this justice. Just Breathtaking.



And such amazing plant life so high up!



The trip back down Mt Ossa was just as amazing and enjoyable as the scramble up.


Our favourite peak and place on the Overland Track to date.

We have been so lucky with the weather - blue skies and not a drop of rain for 5 days.

A short walk (about 1.5 hours) took us down to Kia Ora Hut. Here we had a refreshing (read very cold) swim in the nearby creek.


Day 6 – Kia Ora to Windy Ridge (via D’Alton, Fergusson and Hartnett Falls)

Now we have done our mountain days it’s time for waterfalls.  Firstly though we pass Du Cane Hut - the oldest hut in the park.  Once again life would have been hard for those living here in the 1900s.




Into the forest and it’s time for our first side trip to a waterfall.  Weather is overcast but surely our packs will be OK uncovered - it’s not going to rain.

A bit of fancy trackwork leads us down to the falls.


D’Alton falls were magical with the water rushing over many tiers to a deep pool below.


On arriving at Ferguson Falls the heavens opened from above. Oh no - our backpacks back at the trail junction would be getting very wet.  We took a hurried look at the falls and raced back to put rain covers over our packs. Although they were slightly wet the rain wasn’t enough for us to don our rainjackets - especially as it was quite warm temperature wise.


The next set of falls was Hartnett Falls. Even the walk to them was magical. Small flowers carpeted the ground like snow.


Tree trunks astounded us with their vivid colours.


And we entered what could be an enchanted forest, straight out of a fairytale.



Then we arrived at Hartnett Falls and WOW - these are the best falls yet.


We walked through the afternoon in a slight drizzle (should never have mentioned the 5 days of no rain).  Luckily the rain had stopped by the time we reached Windy Ridge campsite and Bert Nichols Hut. There were once again great views, this time of the Du Cane Range





Day 7 – Windy Ridge to Echo Point

We awake to fantastic views of the Du Cane Range behind Bert Nichols hut.


Today would have been an easy day and our final day of the track if we were to catch the ferry from Narcissus Hut….But no, we wanted to be part of the ‘one in four people’ that actually walked to the end of the Overland Track at Lake St Clair!

So we walked the initial 9km to Narcissus Hut, crossing a suspension bridge en route.



The excitement of the morning being the tiger snake we meet sunning itself along the track. It was too quick or camera shy for a photo!

Once at narcissus we watched the ferry collect quite a few hikers.


Others stayed behind with us and we enjoyed lunch at the table and chairs beside the hut. We decided to then push onto Echo Point Hut and it’s beach side camp spot.

We hiked through some fantastic old growth forest with some huge trees, both still standing and fallen.


We caught glimpses of Lake St Clair from the forest path and even set foot on its shores at times.


Unfortunately, this was the hardest 2 hours of the whole walk for Kerrie.  She was exhausted and most likely dehydrated as she stumbled over tree roots and rocks in the uneven ground of the forest.  But when we reached Echo Point it was all worthwhile. We set up camp on the sandy shores of the lake and after a refreshing swim sat down on some old tree stumps with even a table stump for dinner as the sun set.



Day 8 – Echo Point to Cynthia Bay

Ok, so sunset was nice but sunrise - oh my gosh. The colours over the water, the clouds rolling in like a rushing waterfall or crashing waves - just a perfect last morning on the Overland Track.





Campsites don’t get much better than this and in fact, it was our favourite campsite of the track.


Three hours of hiking, once again through fantastic old growth forest, saw us reach the end of the Overland Track at Lake St Clair.


We had just walked approx. 90km in 7.5 days carrying everything we needed through some of the most amazing and changing scenery. We had climbed Tassie’s highest mountain amongst others, trudged through mud and tangled tree roots and scrambled over rocks (all without a drop of alcohol)… and we had just had one of the best weeks of our lives!



And then parked beside our car was this camper, so Alex just had to do it….a beer!




2 comments:

  1. Beautiful, thanks so much for sharing. May i ask what camera you used for the video footage ?
    Excited for my OT experience in Nov :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful, thanks so much for sharing. May i ask what camera you used for the video footage ?
    Excited for my OT experience in Nov :)

    ReplyDelete

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