The Cradle Mountain Overland Track is Australia’s premier alpine walk. It’s a 65 kilometer, six-day trek through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, part of the magnificent Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The stunning scenery and the physical challenge of the Overland Track have assured it a national and international reputation as one of the great wilderness bushwalks.
The walk starts at Ronny Creek in Cradle Valley, beside the renowned Cradle Mountain. Over the next six days, walkers journey through a landscape of spectacular glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, fragrant eucalyptus forest, golden buttongrass moorlands and beautiful alpine meadows. Extra bonuses include a variety of side-trips to breathtaking waterfalls and mountain summits, including Mt Ossa (1617 m) – Tasmania’s highest peak. To top it off, the walk concludes at Australia’s deepest lake – Lake St Clair. Most walkers finish their walk at Narcissus Hut at the head of Lake St Clair. Here they board a small privately run ferry which takes them to the Lake St. Clair Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay.
One can walk the track individually, carrying food, a tent and all the equipment (camping sides and basic huts are available) or as we did, one can opt for a more luxurious and hassle-free organized hike (the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk) using the Tasmanian Walking Company, which allows you to explore the wonders of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, while enjoying the added comfort of a warm hut, showers and a delicious meal cooked every night (and an excellent selection of Tasmanian Pinot Noir wines included in each dinner).
While the hike is not as difficult as some of the great Himalayan or Andean walks, it still provides a good challenge as one has to carry a backpack weighting 10kg (22 lbs) through a varied terrain that includes climbs and descents, mud and scrambles over tree roots, not to mention very changeable weather. Even in summer one can experience snow, wind or rain for several days, followed by bright clear days with temperatures of 30C (85F). Still, the feeling of walking for six days away from roads or any other signs of civilization is uplifting, and seeing unique Tasmanian wildlife, which includes kangaroos, wombats and many interesting birds, is a joy.