The Overland Track needs little introduction and this post is not a blow by blow description of each step of the way. You can get that information from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. This post makes an attempt to capture the feel of the walk as I did it with Intrepid Tours, an Australian small group travel company.
Go Wild in the Wilderness.
Traversing the magnificent Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania, the Overland Track is a well trodden path. Starting at Ronny Creek and ending 65 km and many blisters later at Lake St Clair, it is a visual splendour of varying terrain and ecosystems. You’ll walk through alpine meadows, rainforest and open eucalypt woodlands. If you’re lucky you’ll see various critters like wombats, pademelons and echidna. You will definitely meet bold possums!
This is wilderness country in a World Heritage listed area. Think lots of space, clean air and no mobile phone reception! Depending who your provider is you may get some reception at high points along the way but don’t rely on it. It’s a great opportunity to switch the phone onto flight mode and use it as a camera.
Harder than you think.
The Overland Track is a multi-day hike usually completed over 6 days. Daily distances between camping areas range from 8 – 17 km. There are optional side trips such as scrambling up to the summit of Cradle Mountain or Mt Ossa which add to the distance. Don’t be misled like I was! “Ten K? pffft! – I walk that nearly every day!” I said reading the descriptions available on the Parks Service website. Hah! Rookie error! I don’t walk 10 km every day with a heavy pack carrying all I need for the six days, on uneven, muddy paths with steep ascents and descents! Those 10 km are 10 kilometres on steroids!
To walk the Overland Track you must book through the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. At the time of writing the fee was $200AUD. The numbers walking the track are strictly limited to ensure there are hut/camping platform spaces available for everyone. This also means you see the same people at the end of each day or along the Track adding a real sense of camaraderie. You’ll soon be chatting to these track buddies like old friends.
Intrepid Small Group Tours
I booked this trip through Intrepid Travel as part of my Great Southern Road Trip celebrating my approaching 60th birthday. I have travelled with Intrepid several times before and you can read about my previous journeys in my post about small group travel. This is the first time I have travelled with them in Australia and I rate the experience ten out of ten. I can’t fault the organization of the trip. The guides (Tim and Ben) were friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and fun! They helped gel the group quickly and no problems had a chance to arise. They cooked us great meals using very minimal equipment and did it with a smile.
Genuine Trek Buddies
The biggest variable on group tours is of course, the people who book the same tour as you do. I am happy to say that my eight fellow walkers were good fun and we developed a good group feel very quickly. Unlike other trips I have taken, I was the oldest by a big margin. Fortunately, my fitness put me in the middle of the pack and I didn’t let the side down! I wasn’t first but I wasn’t last either! My tent buddy, Ms D a fifty year old from Adelaide was such a hoot. We talked for hours about topics from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’m grateful I have made another real friend.
We were blessed with good weather for five out the six days. It poured down with rain on our second last night and everything got wet, soggy and uncomfortable. Like troupers we all decided that this added to the authenticity of the experience and toughened us up. There was very little whinging. In fact there was a great deal of hilarity as we were confined to our tents from lunch time chatting endlessly till dark.
Tim and Ben delivered our meals to our tents and we gobbled them up quickly with Tim Tam chasers for dessert! Bliss! Working with nature we were tucked up in our sleeping bags by 8 PM and awake at dawn with the roaring of the camp stove heating up water for a hot drink.
Same Track, Different Experience.
One day I got to chatting to a woman who was booked through another company. It was a ‘luxury’ tour. Hot showers in a cosy private hut at the end of each day. Packs less than eight kilograms and chef prepared meals. She paid $7500. I paid just under $2000. She was miffed that she had to walk alone because the guide was busy with a walker who was not up to the challenge. The diversity of the group was too wide and although she enjoyed the time alone in the wilderness, she was not having “fun” or making new friends.
By comparison, my daily “shower” was in a freezing cold creek, lake or with wet wipes. I carried close to twenty kilograms every step of the way. I camped in a wet tent with a squeaky air mattress between me and the wooden platform. I fought off possums who were trying to steal my muesli bars in the night. I got leeches. I used two packets of blister block bandaids! I played UNO loudly. I made new friends! I survived and I feel invincible! Hot showers are for wimps!
(This post was not sponsored by Intrepid)
It could be if they wanted to send me on more tours! 🙂