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Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park...
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The Overland Track is Australia's premier alpine walk. It's a 65 km, 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 eucalypt 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. Some walkers, however, choose to walk the length of the lake through the rainforest, which extends the walk a further 17.5 km and requires another day. While six days is the average time taken to walk the track, you can create your own pace, depending on how many rest days or side-trips you wish to enjoy.
Walking the Overland Track is a highly rewarding, life-changing experience. Almost half of the track is above 1000 metres in elevation on exposed plateaus in a remote area. You need to be well-prepared.
Crossing Lake St Clair
You can either walk lakeside from Narcissus Hut to the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre (add an extra day), or you can take the small privately-run ferry from Narcissus. You must book and pay for your ferry crossing in advance, by phoning (03) 6289 1137. When you reach Narcissus Hut, confirm your ferry booking with the ferry company by using the two-way radio.
Walking a short section of the Overland Track
For walkers intending to walk only part of the Overland Track during the booking season (1 October-31 May inclusive), please read our Overland Track Usage Guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the quality of the Overland Track experience is maintained for all users.
If you plan to walk between 1 June to 30 September PWS strongly recommends that all walkers at this time of the year are experienced and have a high degree of wilderness navigation skills for winter walking.
Weather conditions in Tasmania can change quickly and frequently, especially in mountain areas. Snow, rain, wind and sun are all possible at any time of the year, and bushfires can occur between October and March. Ensure you have suitable clothing, equipment, food and water to cope with all conditions. You must carry a tent or effective form of emergency shelter in case the huts are full or injury or weather prevents you from reaching a hut before nightfall. Ensure you have a comprehensive first aid kit. It's a good idea for somebody in your walking group to have a current first aid certificate. Before you begin your walk, you can check the Overland Track forecast on the Tasmanian Bureau of Meteorology website.
Avoid walking alone
It is better to arrange a walking group of three or more. Consider taking a personal locator beacon (PLB) for extra security. PLBs can be hired (subject to availability) from PWS at Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair and from Service Tasmania in Hobart.
Let a reliable person know your plans before you go
Be sure to advise this person of your safe return. Make sure that they know what to do if you fail to return as planned (e.g. advise Tasmania Police).
Record your trip intentions in the log books
These are located at the start and end of the track, and at each hut. If you are reported overdue or missing, Parks staff will check your movements in the log books. Remember to sign out at the end of your walk. Log book records also provide useful information to guide management of the track. If there is a bushfire and you need to be relocated, the log book may often be the only indicator to staff that you are on the track.
Be prepared to turn back
If the weather deteriorates or the walk is more difficult than expected, be prepared to turn back or change your plans. Pushing on beyond your limits may result in injury or even death. Be sure that you can recognise signs of hypothermia or heat stress and know how to respond. Check the weather forecast before you depart. Depending on the conditions, you may need to change or adapt your itinerary.
Weather forecasts for the Overland Track can be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology. Please note all bush walker weather warnings and adjust your plans. accordingly.
The Overland Track booking season is from 1 October and 31 May (inclusive)
Between 1 June and 30 September you do not need to book your walk departure date, or pay the Overland Track fee. You only need a National Parks Pass.
Plan to walk safely
Purchase and study the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair map and notes (1:100 000 TASMAP) before you depart. Arrive fit and walk within your capabilities.
The GPX file shown below (105km) is from my hike along the Overland Track. It includes a section into Pine Valley which I highly recommend. You can read more about this 8 day adventure here.
About the region
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is located in the Central Highlands area of Tasmania (Australia), 165 kilometres northwest of Hobart. The park contains many walking trails, and is where hikes along the well-known Overland Track usually begin. Major features are Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff in the northern end, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa in the middle and Lake St Clair in the southern end of the park. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The Overland Track is located in Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area. During the booking season (1 October to 31 May) the Overland Track is walked from north to south, starting at Cradle Mountain and finishing at Lake St Clair. Outside the booking season, the track can be walked in either direction.
By bus: Due to public transport regulations, PWS cannot provide a direct service between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, however there are a number of bus companies that can provide transport. For bus companies, see How to Get there and other information.
By car: Private cars can be parked long-term (while you walk the track) at both Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair visitor centres. Unless a car shuffle has been arranged, many walkers find it most convenient to leave their car at Lake St Clair and catch a bus back to Cradle Mountain to start their walk. See How to Get there and other information for car access and bus transport options. If you are being dropped off at Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre by friends or family, after checking in, they can drive you the 7km to the track start point at Ronny Creek (if the park is not too busy) - alternatively, you can all catch the Cradle Shuttle Bus (departs regularly) from the visitor centre to the track start at Ronny Creek.
Accommodation before / after your walk
Many walkers find it more relaxing to spend the night before their departure on the track at an accommodation venue in Cradle Mountain. This gives plenty of time to check in at the visitor centre, catch the Cradle Shuttle Bus (departs regularly) from the visitor centre to the track start at Ronny Creek 7km away, and walk the 4 to 6 hours to the first hut at Waterfall Valley. See How to Get there and other information for details on accommodation options both at Cradle Mountain and at the end of your walk at Lake St Clair.
Max elevation: 1596 m
Min elevation: 738 m
Total climbing: 5218 m
Total descent: -5422 m