The Overland Track - Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair - a nice slow trip

Spring hiking in Tasmania? Will there be snow or just rain?

Hiking the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair?

A leisurely bushwalk on a World Heritage "Top 10 Hikes in the World"

We have just returned from a seven day, six night trip on the Overland Track in Tasmania. There were four of us in the party with the plan to take our time and enjoy any good spring weather we might get along the way. With typical Tasmanian weather variability we were blessed with some great sunny days and also snow, sleet and rain in various forms. All this was expected and we were well prepared for any conditions.

Why hike the Overland Track again you may ask? Because we LOVE it!

In this post we will just make a few comments and observations about the trip, as there are many other posts on Our Hiking Blog about hiking the Overland Track. Check out the links to them at the bottom of the page.

Heading up the Horse Track as an alternative to the big grunt up Marions. Perfect for someone with barthmophobia. It is still a bit of a "climb" but over a longer distance. Every time we do it it seems to get harder....

We were hoping for snow, in fact a lot of snow! It had snowed heavily a couple of weeks before and while there was some on the Cradle Plateau it was very slushy and soft. Above is Sue heading across the Horse "Track" towards the intersection with the Overland Track proper (where it intersects just before Kitchen Hut)

We had planned to take snow shoes (Yowies) but Frank ended up the only person carrying them as the snow was patchy and not forecast for the duration of the trip. They were OK in this section but because the snow was so soft and slushy they broke through to ground several times and it was quite difficult to get them out of the snow.

Heading across to Kitchen Hut (with Cradle Mountain in the background). The snow was particularly soft here as there was a lot of water running across the ground (under the snow)

The Overland Track was easy to find in the snow. We had fantastic weather on day one.

We left the Ronney Creek car park (the official start of the Overland Track) at 1pm. Slow as ever, and hindered by the snow, we reached Waterfall valley Hut at 7pm. Sunset (above from just before the Barn Bluff turnoff) was at 6:07 so we had quite a bit of walking with headlights in the dark.

Cooking dinner at Windemere Hut we were surprised to be the only party in the hut that night. We were lucky enough to get ABC radio reception here and were able to listen to the AFL football and hear our team win the game and make the Grand Final. We also had Pelion and Kia Ora huts to ourselves which was surprising (but nice for a change, we have been at Pelion Hut when it was at it's capacity of 60 people)

Of seven days hiking, we had two totally fine days. The rest was a variety of "weather". Pictured above is John heading down the track. Tasmania has had a significant amount of winter and spring rain and the track was quite wet in places.

At Pelion Gap and the Mt Ossa turnoff. That evening we discovered we had red faces from sunburn! Colin had left Pelion Hut early hoping to climb Mt Ossa. When he arrived it was covered in cloud and after waiting an hour decided to head on to Kia Ora. As he says, no use climbing a mountain if you can't see the view. We arrive in sunshine and a cloud free Ossa!

Sue heading down Pelion Gap towards Kia Ora Hut. Nice bit of snow here but not enough for snow shoes.

It was a "bit chilly" on a couple of days. Pictured above is Frank feeling the cold.

We had never been into Ferguson Falls (which are between Kia Ora and Bert Nichols Hut) and were lucky to have chosen a great time of the year as it was PUMPING! We could not believe the roar of the water nor the sheer volume coming over the waterfall. It was a great side trip.

Above is a great view of the Acropolis from Bert Nichols Hut. The new hut is an interesting addition to the Overland Track. There is a very long, funny and interesting post on Bushwalk Tasmania about the Hut development. (some people love it, others hate it- we can see both sides)

We completed the walk at Echo Point Hut as the jetty at Narcissus was under a metre of water due to the high level of Lake St Clair.

In conclusion, a few reflections on this walk may be useful for anyone planning a spring bushwalk on the Overland Track.
- the snow was wet and really soft. Travel time was slow and snow shoes unhelpful
- temperatures were never below freezing so the tracks were slushy and wet rather than icy as we had in our Winter Overland Track
- We took it easy and just went from hut to hut. It made for a very relaxing trip, leaving late (between 9 and 10 am) each day and arriving into the Hut most days between 2 and 4 pm. It was a great way to "do" the track.
- We saw 22 people in total for the whole seven days (and saw no one for 3 of the days). If you are experienced, well prepared and not too ambitious it may be a good time of the year to hike the Overland Track without the seasonal "crowds"
- we allowed 7 nights and 8 days in case the weather held us up (or if we wanted a side trip). Snow is very common in September and there had been a large dump two weeks before our trip.
- we ended coming out "early" and had a night at the Derwent Bridge Hotel. It was great and we really enjoyed the food and hospitality.

Related Posts
How to hike the Overland Track - our eBook on getting the trip done - 2009/10 update
Backpacking the Overland Track - a view from the States
Planning food for a multiday hike
Various Overland Track posts


Auckland property manager said...

You really had a good time,and the scene is ,indeedly,beautiful.Thanks for sharing your photos.

Matthias said...

Looks like it was a really cool trip. Love the photos. I think if you walked the track yourself you can understand the wish to walk it again, it's simply beautiful there.

Peter Franklin said...

I have read the Bushwalk Tas forum on the hut at windy Ridge. As I haven't been there I was curious to know if there all the comments on the log are negative about the hut. I notice you mention you can see both views.
The local Tas National Parks Assoc newsletter indicates that "...not heard a single positive comment..." and I am wondering if this is a fair and balanced assessment

Frank and Sue said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

@Peter - as regards the Bert Nicols hut.
Good points-
- separate sleeping area so quiet at night
- great space to put your packs and gear out side sleeping rooms
- drying area /"veranda" is pretty good - needs more hooks

Lets call it "needs improvement" rather than bad points.
- should have had an open veranda (excuses / reasons against) have been made by Parks
- fire in the wrong spot. Too easy to hog it. ? should have been in middle of room or middle of a wall.
- air locks would have been great between outside and inside
- materials used for flywire was cheap domestic quality is now wrecked when possums enter!(and they try and head into the "lounge" to scrounge food.)
- Sue reckons you could fit in more tables, I was happy with the spacing
- One GREAT comment in hut book was to make the sculptures lower so they could also have been used to hang wet clothes off!
- Will be interested to see what it was like in summer - was pretty dark and gloomy in September.

All in all, probably a 6/10 but at least it was dry, vaguely warm and had a water tank!

Dave said...

Looks really remote and quiet: 1000% less touristy than most places one can hike in Europe! Sometimes I long for mountains without gondolas going to the top of 'em.

Frank and Sue said...

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the comment.
Mate, no gondolas in Tasmania!
You might have noticed in the trip report we only saw 20 people in the whole 7 days AND no one for three of them!

You should get out here for a visit. LOTS of German people love the place. Have you checked out Matthias's blog? He has "escaped" from Germany. (for good)

Enjoyed checking out your blog. Some great stuff there.