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Overland Track

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The Overland Track is a famous bush walk or trek in Tasmania, Australia. It is located in Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and the whole walk is inside the confines of the magnificent Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. It runs for 85 kilometers from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair and normally takes around five to six days to complete.

Overland Track, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania (image)

The Overland Track winding past the Cradle Mountain (Tasmania) on a summer day. In the right center, you can see the Kitchen Hut, which is reserved for emergency use. (Photo: Bjorn ChristianTorrissen)

The Overland Track is a true wilderness walk which will take you through all manner of pristine environments: towering dolomite mountains, temperate rainforests, wild rivers, beautiful waterfalls and alpine plains.

In addition to the main track, there are a number of optional side tracks such as to the summits of Cradle Mountain and Mt. Ossa (Tasmania’s highest mountain which attains a height of 1,617 metres -- or 5,305 ft -- and which is composed of Jurassic dolerite).

Another place to visit is Lake St. Clair (Australia’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 200 meters).

You can also visit the Labyrinth, which a group of tarns. (Tarns are mountain lakes or pools, which are formed in cirques [that is, amphitheatre-like valley heads] which have been excavated by the action of glaciers).

Landscape, Climate

All of the many stunning types of scenery seen of the Overland Track – such as lakes, mountains and waterfalls – were all carved out by glaciers during the last Ice Age. As noted above, the most important mountains in the area, such as Cradle Mountain, are composed of dolerite.

The climate is very changeable. It can change without warning from hot to cold or vice versa. Temperatures reach 35°C and above in summer and fall to 0°C and below in winter. Snow falls mainly in winter – especially in on the Cradle Mountain and its plateau and on Mt. Ossa – but it can fall anytime, even in summer. Rain is very common, ranging from drizzles to torrential downpours.

Screeching winds, snow, sleet, heavy rain, scorching sun – these can all occur within one day. Check the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts.

The summer and autumn months (December to April) feature longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures overall; therefore, visits during those months are recommended for less experienced bushwalkers.

Flora and Fauna

The Overland Track’s temperate rain forests have trees such as the Myrtle Beech the Eucalypt. The Track’s vegetation also includes plains covered with a kind of tussock-forming grass called Button Grass, alpine fields covered with herbs, and prolific amounts of mosses.

Native animals seen on the Overland Track include Pademelons (a kind of small marsupial), opossums (or possums). Other smaller, not so welcome animals are leeches living in the damp vegetation.

Other native animals live in the area but are less often seen by bushwalkers: for example, Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas (or spiny anteaters), and quolls (or native cats).

Side Tracks

There are quite a few side tracks that can be walked in addition to walking the main Overland Track.

These include the side tracks to:
Cradle Mountain Summit (3 hours return)
Barn Bluff (2.5 hours return)
Lake Will (1 hour return)
Mt Ossa (3.5 hours return)
D’Alton Falls (1.5 hours return)
Harnett Falls (1 hour return)

Rather than planning in advance which of these side tracks to take, it is recommended that you be opportunistic and take those side tracks which appear when the prevailing weather appears fine.


There are seven main trail huts, two side trail huts, and four day use/emergency shelters.

Huts enable bushwalkers to stay indoor overnight. Huts should be booked ahead, but bushwalkers are obliged to carry tents with them for shelter in case huts are full and if there is an accident on the Track. There are camping areas located near each of the main huts where bushwalkers can pitch their tents.


Bookings are required for the walking season (1 November to 30 April each year). Booking fees are currently $AUD 180.00 per adult. In addition, fees are payable for entry to national parks, including the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park where the Overland Track is situated.

During the walking season, walkers must walk the Track in a southerly direction (that is, from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair).

You must carry a tent, should carry a fuel stove, and are highly recommended to carry clothing, medicines, good maps, and other bushwalking gear to cope with all kinds of weather and contingencies. A waterproof raincoat, warm sleeping bag and sleeping mat, warm clothing (fleecy top, leggings, jumper, and hat, plus comfortable walking boots), a plastic bag for waterproofing your belongings, and adequate supplies of food and water – these are all further items that you should take.

Treat the Environment and Others with Respect

Keep on the walking tracks. Camp only in designated camping areas.

Use hot water, not detergents, to clean your eating utensils. Carry your rubbish out with your. Use designated toilets (where none are available, use a trowel and stay away from waterways).

Do not feed wild animals.

Be a safe and courteous walker. Leave your itinerary with a friend or family member. Carry a first aid kit. Carry a Personal Locator Beacon, if they are available.

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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