Friday, December 19, 2008

The Overland Track: Entry #1 (of 3)

It's the buttongrass. And the water. I'm sure of it. This is what makes this place so special. Almost fairytale.

The Overland Track, Tasmania
6 day hike: this blog entry the first 3 days
Wednesday 17 December to Friday 19 December 2008
Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley Hut to Windermere Lake to New Pelion Hut

The Overland Track, it's a Designer Trail I tell you. Well, that's what I thought on the first day anyway. A shuttle bus to the start, boardwalks and graveled pathways, all through swamp, lush rainforest, lakes and mountaintop panoramas. But it ends, in mud, amongst the remnants of thirty year old rotten timber walkways. Water is everywhere it seems - always in abundance on the muddy track - but also in streams and lakes. For a South Aussie, it is at first unnerving only carrying 1L of water, but it seems everytime my drink bottle came close to empty another source of wonderfully clear water appears.

The view of Cradle Mountain on climbing to Marions Lookout is quite something, after a hard ascent the mountain suddenly appears before you. We were very lucky with clear skies, bad weather is common here it seems.

Day 1 ended at Waterfall Valley Hut, where we camped on the timber platforms above a waterfall. Andrea (pronounced On-dri-ah) and Theo, who we first met on the bus from Launceston, camped with us. Whilst we chatted, a couple of small spotted quolls explored our tents. None of us were too sure about how to set up our tents on the timber platforms with the cables instead of tent pegs. The strategically placed cables, and sometimes not so strategically placed, weren't so easy to master. How to keep the tension so the tent would remain waterproof if it rained. Luckily the first night it didn't, and by our second night we had learnt a bit because it not only rained, but snowed. The snow was special, it not so much fell as floated down onto our tents. At 4am when it started, I didn't care too much as the possums had been busy searching out food. But waking again later to a tent burdened with snow, I snuck a look to confirm my suspicions.

The view at the end of day 2 coming down to Windermere Lake was breathtaking, the yellows and purples. We saw two wombats, one crossing our path quite undisturbed by us.

Day 3 was longer at 17km. The view of Mt Oakleigh held us spellbound all day as we walked in a large arc around it. There was a lot of mud on this day, so our new gators were well used. They are so hot and uncomfortable which is why I hiked they whole Heysen Trail without any. Eewwk. But they are practical in the wet.

Tim and I went for a swim in Douglas Creek near the Old Pelion Hut. It was about a 20 minute walk from the new hut, maybe shorter if Tim hadn't worn his crocs there. The trail to the old hut was in very bad condition, but new timber materials lying stacked around indicated it was soon to be replaced. I think perhaps Tim needed the 4WD crocs we saw the park ranger Matt have earlier in the day. The swim was cold, but well worth it.

Again we camped with Andrea and Theo, the spotted quoll providing more amusement. The quoll soon lost interest in our tents, and upon hearing a group of guys playing hackie in the distant, it climbed upon a log to get a clearer yet distant view. Very amusing to watch.

Alternatively, visit the Overland Track website to view the official Google Earth kml file. Download kml file to view in Google Earth or adapt to use as a navigational aid in a GPS unit


Day 1-3: The Overland Track
Wednesday Thursday Friday
17/12/2008 18/12/2008 19/12/2008
Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley Hut Waterfall Valley Hut to Windermere Lake Windermere Lake to New Pelion Hut
Distance 11.8km 11.0km 14.6km
Moving Duration 3h20m 2h35m 3h41
Stationary Duration 1h48m 1h04m 1h49m
Moving Average 3.5km/h 4.3km/h 4.0km/h
Overall Average 2.3km/h 3.0km/h 2.6km/h
Oodometer 36.8km 47.8km 62.4km

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