Overland Track – Planning the walk from overseas or outside Tasmania

Planning to hike one of the greatest wilderness treks in the world?

What information do I need to walk the Overland Track in Tasmania?

How do I organise Hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania?

Guided or solo? What is the best option?

Transport and transfers, what are the best options for the Overland Track?

Waterfall Valley Hut

Waterfall Valley Hut

Help!! Please!!

Gretta who is based in the USA sent us a great email from her asking for some advice.

Gretta is in the early stages of planning a trip to Australia and sent us the following (edited) email. We posted the reply here so that other “Our Hiking Blog” readers who are thinking about how to arrange their Overland Track walk from overseas can share in the knowledge. Hopefully the following information will be a useful resource.

Gretta had originally sent a general enquiry and we asked her the following questions:
1) What sort of hiking experience do you have?
2) How fit are you?
3) How tight to time will you be i.e. do you have to start and finish on exact dates or will you have a bit of flexibility
4) Are you prepared to bring stuff like a tent, sleeping mat, back pack etc over here or hire it?
5) Are you on a tight budget?

Hi Frank,

Your blog definitely brought the “reality” of the hike to the forefront! I read further on the crowds during high season, the food and equip. needed etc… Don’t really want to be surrounded by tons of people. Kinda ruins the whole experience.

 

I don’t have much hiking experience except for short local day hikes. The only other hike I did, was in Crete (part of E4 trails) from Sougia to Agia. Definitely needed lots of water for that one. I’m planning on doing a few long weekends hiking and camping probably in West Virginia just to test the waters. But if I can’t find anyone to go with on this extended trip, will probably consider an outfitter who can organize the logistics of the hiking part. 

I would say that I’m relatively fit. Run about 12 miles a week, and work out about 4 times a week. 

Somewhat flexible on dates. Plan on spending about 3 weeks in Oz – want to spend some days in Sydney, and then possibly doing some diving. Just started planning, and have no idea what all the options are!

I have a tent, but thinking if I am to take over, will have to look for a smaller lighter tent (have book marked the site you recommended for gear). But yes, will probably want to bring my own tent, sleeping bag, mat.

I haven’t figured out the budget, but will definitely be on one. Don’t want to be completely “hard core.” While I know I love a challenge, I also love being able to relax and enjoy the whole experience. For me, the most important thing is the visuals. I am a photographer, and for me, the visuals is what a good chunk of this trip is all about. And hopefully coming in contact with some cute fuzzy creatures.

Thanks again for your help! Just starting this whole idea, and gathering all the info. is so much fun.

Ok Gretta (and anyone else who reads this)first of all, just remember that this is our personal opinion and it is up to you to read and learn as much about the Overland Track as you can. There are some excellent resources on the Web and in addition we would strongly suggest you purchase John and Monica Chapman’s guide Overland Track . The new edition is a vast improvement on their original guide.

I won’t try and repeat Chapman’s or other information that is generally available but will focus on trying to give you broad advice so you can make an informed decision as you plan your trip.

We have also written a downloadable book combining a lot of information and our experience into one large resource. Check out the information on The Overland Track eBook by clicking here.

We have had great feedback from everyone who has purchased it.

Guided or Solo?
There are many people who undertake the Overland Track solo. The infrastructure (track markers, huts, information, length of stages) lends itself to a solo walk. That being said, unless you are walking in the depths of winter, it is highly unlikely you would ever be walking the Track alone. This post is about one section of the Track in July 2007 where we shared the Kia Ora Hut area with 10+ other hikers.

You commented in the email:  

 

Don’t really want to be surrounded by tons of people. Kinda ruins the whole experience.

We agree, but seeing people on the Track is the reality BUT it can work in you advantage.

This is a long walk, it is in VERY isolated country, the weather can change DRAMATICALLY and it can be DANGEROUS. Having the knowledge that there will usually be someone coming behind you is very reassuring when you are hit by a blizzard and you can’t see more than 2-3 metres in front of you and you are cold and wet!

The other wonderful thing about the Track is that you can “walk alone” , stop where you like, take photo’s or have a long lunch but when you arrive at the campsite each evening you generally meet up with the same groups as the previous night (as everyone you leave with on day one tends to do the same stages). We have met some fantastic people from both Australia and across the world on every trip. We still keep in contact with many of these people and it is often an added bonus. Great scenery, great experience and wonderful people to share it with!

Guided walks are of course an alternative. Simple to arrange (you pay, they plan, organise food, transport and gear), potentially safer because you are with a group and experienced guides and it is a very easy way to undertake the walk if you are time poor. The disadvantages we have observed include the cost, being in a “group” (have noticed “tension” in groups several times), having to stick to the hike plan (can’t decide to sleep in, have a rest day, take 2 hrs for lunch, have a swim etc) and the group “exclusion” mentality i.e. groups tend to stick together, eat together and not interact very much with others on the Track.

Within our group of hiking friends I am seen as the “anti paid walks” person. Others argue that it allows access to people who are not confident, who may need some assistance with planning and gear and that it is a “free country” and that people who can afford to pay should be allowed to pay to get to their “Wilderness Experience”. I just don’t really like the whole concept (hiking snob maybe)of heading out for a “wilderness experience” and having to pass large groups, several times a day, and having huge demand on the infrastructure from people who are making a profit out of a National Park. That being said, good on em for having a go and getting out there!

Getting there (and back)
We have found the simplest way to organise the trip is to arrange transport to Cradle Mountain from Launceston or Devonport. We would allow time here to purchase and prepare your food (maybe half a day) There is a scheduled bus service operated by Tassielink or private operators will get you there. We often use private operators if there is a group of us because of the flexibility they offer e.g. pick us up from the hotel/ airport, stop for a quick stop for lunch etc, get gas bottles for us in advance.

On completion of the walk, we have found the best option is to catch the Tassielink bus to Hobart. Getting BACK to Launceston or Devonport is a long trip by Tassielink (it can take all day) and a bit of a fiddle to organise. This also give you the chance to experience Hobart, which is a lovely city and well worth a visit.

We have also developed a system where we post our spare clothes and gear to our accommodation in Hobart from Devonport or Launceston. It is quite cheap (and Australia Post is very reliable) Tassielink also provides a service along these lines. Doing this means we can wear “good” clothes to Tasmania, have a look around, do our shopping, pack up and post it all so that when we arrive we have clean clothes, toiletries, comfy shoes etc waiting for us at the hotel.

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Hi there,
    I’m from Canada and wanted to plan my overland track for February 2009. I took a look at the guided tours and they are very expensive for me. I am a student and on a very low budget. I wanted to do the trek solo (or hopefully with one friend) but am at a complete loss as to how much it will cost me. Can anyone help me plan this out?

  2. Natalie Obersky says

    My husband and I have just completed the Overland trek in Feb 2010 and had a fantastic time. We found your e-book very useful to help coordinate the entire trip – thanks a million for this wonderful resource!

    We wanted to share a few points that we (and the overseas visitors we be-friended) encountered to help others who are looking to undertake this hike……

    1) The Ida Ferry has increased the cost of tickets to $35pp and is not punctual (we were scheduled on the 930am service that did not arrive until 1025am) so don’t count on it arriving on time to meet transfers or lifts;

    2) Pine valley was a v.popular side trip so make sure you have a tent unless you wish to sleep on the floor of the hut;

    3) Narcissus hut currently has a mouse problem so sleep outdoors if you don’t want to be kept awake all night. Echo point has rats but Parks has installed rat proof cupboards for packs;

    4) Mt Ossa side trip is well worth the climb if the weather is clear. There is one section near the summit where you’ll have to climb up and back down under a rock ledge which was a little tricky for someone with short legs! Walking poles made the descent much easier on the knees;

    5) Tassielink will freight bags to Lake St Clair Lodge for $10 per bag so you can have some clean clothes to put on after a shower (a hot shower will cost you $1 for 6 minutes – cold showers are meant to be free but the taps only worked when paid for hot water – if you stay at the campsite $25 per site or in a hostel room $40pp you still have to pay for your hot shower:( );

    6) Lake St Clair Lodge has changed management recently. Soap and shampoo can no longer be purchased so if you want a shower at the end carry a sliver of soap;

    7) Lake St Clair Lodge kitchen closes at 430pm so dinner is not available despite the claim on their website that they are open in busy season and the sign at the till that outlines they stay open if you book – this is not the case. With no other food outlet on site and the insanely expensive taxi to get to Derwent Bridge Hotel (see comment below) we thought this stance was absolutely ridiculous particularly when there were little to no options at the so-called general store unless you felt like more two minute noodles:( ;

    8) If you want to get to the Derwent Bridge Hotel the taxi service quoted $10 pp each way (one of the most expensive taxis you’ll ever catch for a 10km round trip) regardless of the number of people who wish to go:( ;

    9) The Hotel closes at 8pm not sure what time the kitchen shuts but given the $20 taxi fare you may want to get there with enough time to order a meal; and

    10) The only way to get back to Cradle Mountain or Launceston direct is by charter. Otherwise you’ll need to get a bus to Hobart, then one to Launceston and a third if you wish to get back to your wheels at Cradle.

    Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time on the trek.

    Unfortunately the issues experienced at Lake St Clair left a sour note on ours and our overseas friends trip. We were actually embarrassed and found ourselves trying to convince others that they should not let this experience taint their view of traveling in Australia.

    Despite these negatives, we would still return to the Overland trek to undertake the side trips that we missed due to bad weather although we’ll coordinate to meet the bus next time or stay at Fergys Paddock campsite (free) and once again freight a bag with some additional supplies in it.

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