A couple of months ago my wife told me she wanted to walk through Tassie’s Overland Track. She last walked through 6 years ago with her brother but wanted us to walk it together. I hadn’t walked that trip for something like 18 years so I was curious to see what it would be like.
Liking our solitude, we resolved to camp away from the huts, something that was ok’d by Parks staff, just as long as we were discrete and did the right thing.
Loading our gear into our packs, we tried to keep the weight to a reasonable level while at the same time remaining comfortable. I was going to use a new Mont Backcountry pack, a serious 85 litre canvas pack suitable for the toughest trips while Lyn had her well used Mont Escape pack. I was carrying 27kgs, Lyn had 15kgs. My pack was a bit heavier than most due to my photographic equipment.
Our first day was a short one walking, but a long day overall as we first had to drive for 4 hours from our home to the track start. We left Ronny Creek and headed up the main track. The packs felt good and so did life!
After negotiating Marion’s Lookout (and helping a couple of lost Asian tourists find the way down) we worked our way across the face of Cradle Mountain to find a campsite on Cradle Cirque in the late afternoon sun. There was a cool breeze as I set up our new Mont Moondance 2 tent. This is a superbly compact and light tent for 2 people, quick to erect and as usual for Mont, full of innovative ideas in its construction.
A mist descended over the mountaintops in the evening and we watched as a well spread out group of four weary trekkers trudged slowly past in the gloom. We slipped into our tent and were soon warm and cosy in our sleeping bags.
The next day dawned fine and cool and we quickly packed up and dropped down to Waterfall Valley hut where we met one of the track rangers. After yarning for a while we moved on in the gathering heat towards Windermere Hut. The scenery was brilliant, towering dolerite mountains reaching up into a blue sky dotted with fine weather cumulus clouds. We had a great view of Lake Windermere from a lookout before continuing south and reaching Windermere hut in the mid afternoon.
On the way Lyn had a snooze on a rock while I wandered around finding some superb red barked Tasmanian snowgums to photograph.
The new Overland track huts are a far cry from what was there when I last walked through, veritable mansions easily able to cater for the 34 independent walkers allowed through each day but still built sensitively so that they assimilate into their environment. Sometimes compromises need to be made to cater for larger numbers of people and it has been well done.
After having dinner at Windermere hut, we packed up and walked for another two hours as the sun eased towards the horizon, finally setting up camp in the forest near the Forth Valley Lookout.
After listening to a couple of possums having a real ding dong and another creature that had a call like a running zip (no kidding) we entered the world of slumber. Cosy again
Our next day was normally one of the longest days on the track but we had shortened it nicely to an easy 14kms. The day was hot and we walked a little slower in the shady forested sections, savouring the relative coolness out of the sun.
Our campsite this time was next to the Old Pelion Hut. This hut is no longer allowed to be slept in by walkers due to its heritage value but it was pretty handy when a thunderstorm rolled in and the heavens opened. It was crowded in the tiny hut with at least another 6 or 7 walkers sheltering from the downpour.
After the storm had rolled through the air was vibrant and cool.
The next morning was magic! Mist floated ethereally over the hills and through the valleys as the sun weakly filtered through. The dew clung to the grasses, saturating my boots and gaitors as I wandered around looking for “the image”. A great start to the day.
A day that involved a long slow trudge up to Pelion Gap, at 1126metres, one of the highest points on the track. A platform has been built at the top of the climb, with an unusual sign warning bushwalkers that the local Currawongs (birds) have worked out how to undo pack zips. And in fact we even heard of a fastex buckle being undone!
The descent was much easier and it wasn’t long before we came to Kia Ora hut. Dinner again and we move a little way down track to find a tent site. This was our 4th night and we only expected to spend one more night in our Moondance tent before heading home.
The fifth day was the hottest day of the trip, reaching somewhere around 27 degrees in the mid afternoon, no fun when you are carrying a pack. We arrived at the new, very impressive Burt Nichols hut which had been built to replace the much smaller Windy Ridge hut. Dinner again and onwards. This time it was a little difficult to find a tent site offtrack and being late, we ended up pitching our tent right on the track. No-one came past so it was no problem.
The final day we only had 6 kilometres to walk then it was “Narcissuss Hut to Ferry base, come in please” over the radio and we had our boat ride to Cynthia bay and civilisation organised.
The boat trip is a great way to finish the trip, zooming down Lake St Clair looking back at the mountains we had threaded our way through and feeling just a little chuffed at the fact that this pair of “oldies” (60 years for one and a little less for the other) had easily traversed this stunning wilderness.
A trip well worth doing, made all the easier with superb equipment.
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