Monday, December 23, 2013

The Overland Track

Earlier this month, David and I walked Tasmania's iconic Overland Track, one of Australia's top bushwalks. We did it in style with Cradle Mountain Huts, staying in private huts with hot showers and comfortable twin share bunk rooms, enjoying good food and fine Tasmanian wines... yes, it's a hard life. If you get the chance, you must go. Do it, do it, do it!

On the first morning, we gathered nervously at the walker's base at the beautiful Quamby Estate in Hagley, not far from Launceston. After brief introductions and a gear check (the company provides backpacks and rain jackets on loan and a checklist of other items to take), we were on a minibus on the way up to Cradle Mountain and on the track by around 10.30am.

Over six days and five nights, we trekked through stunning landscapes and a wide variety of vegetation, from rainforest and eucalypt forest to open buttongrass plains and alpine plants. We saw Tasmanian trees like the myrtle beech, sassafras, King Billy pine and pencil pine - and even a hybrid between the last two that our group dubbed the 'King Pencil'. The weather was kind. We had two sunny hot days, some overcast, some with drizzle and rain. It was actually very atmospheric walking past Lake Windermere in the rain - like something from a fairytale. Unfortunately we had to abandon plans for a side trip up Mount Doris and Mount Ossa, Tasmania's tallest mountain. The weather had closed in and we were being pelted with tiny bits of hail at the track junction, so the decision of the group was unanimous. We passed historic trappers' huts, streams, rivers, lookouts, glorious waterfalls. The track itself ranged from freshly laid boardwalks to rocky paths to mud bogs. And all the while mountain ranges unfolded before our eyes. One of the most interesting things about the Overland Track is that you can see it stretching before you and see where you will end up each day.

We got very lucky, walking with a great group of people (ten of us in total) from Texas, Victoria and Queensland and two fantastic local guides. There were lots and lots of laughs along the way, but it doesn't feel like walking in a 'group' - you can walk at your own pace, there's no need to stick together or any pressure to keep up. My photos really don't do the place justice, but here are a few of my favourites. There are so many, I'll share a few more in subsequent posts.

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