The Overland Track: bushwalking bliss

By AG Staff 22 December 2010
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Learn more about this Tassie wonder, and experience it vicariously through our gallery and podcast walking tour.

THERE’S NO BETTER introduction to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area than the Overland Track, the world-famous 80 km walk from Cradle Valley to Cynthia Bay on Lake St Clair.

It threads through a glacier-carved landscape that’s decorated with tannin-stained lakes, soaring peaks and plunging gorges. There are stark alpine plains and silent green rainforests. Striking plant species include pandani – a kind of giant heath – and fagus, one of Australia’s few native cold-living deciduous trees.

Weather usually dominates any walker’s first impressions of the Overland, particularly those who’ve cut their teeth on easier tracks on mainland Australia or eastern Tasmania. Cradle Valley, where the walk begins, is just below 1000 m elevation and mean annual rainfall here is 2800 mm. Only a few parts of Tasmania and Tropical North Queensland are wetter. 

You’d think this amount of rain might diminish the experience, but it doesn’t. It couldn’t. The Overland Track traverses country shaped by wild weather, and is therefore hardly likely to be spoiled by it. And rain often passes quickly, leaving brilliantly clear skies.

Overland Track an iconic bushwalk

The track includes some of Australia’s most loved wilderness views: Crater Lake and its steep, fagus-draped surrounds, which blaze gold and red in autumn; Dove Lake extending like a mirror below Cradle Mountain’s crumbling dolerite towers; Barn Bluff rising above the seemingly impenetrable depths of Fury Gorge; Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain; and Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest freshwater lake.

The Overland’s great renown leads some to underestimate it. Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service rangers despair at what they see on the track: walkers without proper footwear or wet-weather gear and people setting out without tents or sufficient food. Track work has improved walking conditions exponentially in recent decades, but this is still a multi-day trek through a wilderness area in a region with extremely changeable weather.

There are longer and more difficult walks in Tasmania, and certainly walks less crowded – but there’s only one Overland Track.

Interested in experiencing the Overland Track, but can’t make it down there right now? The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service has produced a series of six 20-minute podcasts, which feature Peter Grant walking and talking you through all six days of the track.

You can listen or download them off the TPWS web site at the following links:
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 1 (MP3)
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 2 (MP3)
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 3 (MP3)
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 4 (MP3)
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 5 (MP3)
Overland Track Audio Podcast Day 6 (MP3)