Experience the heart of Tasmania in its finest hour. The Overland Track is Australia's most iconic hike, the crown jewel in Tasmanian hiking, and a winter traverse is sought by many but achieved by few. But wait, there’s more. We take a side trip to the mythical Pine Valley where a climb to the Labyrinth gives spectacular views across the Ducane Range, arguably one of the most beautiful scenes in Tasmania.
Meet at Launceston at 1pm or at Cradle Mountain Village at 3pm. Gear check. Issue food and equipment, pack. Stay at Waldheim Cabins.
Begin hike. Follow track to Marion’s Lookout, continue to Waterfall Hut, remain the night. 10.7km
Follow trail 7.8km to Windermere Hut
Follow trail 16.8km to Pelion Plains
Follow trail to Pelion Gap. Return hike to Mt Ossa. Hike to Kia Ora Hut. 8.6km
9.6km to Bert Nichols Hut
Continue to Pine Valley turnoff then to Pine Valley Hut. Return hike to Labyrinth.
Return to Overland Track then 4.5km to Narcissus. Ferry to Lake St Clair Visitors Centre at Cynthia Bay. Bus to Launceston.
Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen said of the Antarctic plateau, 'The land is like a fairytale'. No fitter words could be spoken of Tasmania's Central Highlands which are at their glorious best in the depth of winter.
Day 1. We meet at Launceston and travel by bus to Cradle Mountain village where we finalise our food and equipment, packing snowshoes if required, before staying the night at Waldheim Cabins at the start of the iconic Overland Track. We will have dinner at Cradle Mountain pub.
Day 2. At first light the next day we begin our trek on the boardwalked Overland Track passing over buttongrass moorland before ascending to Crater Lake and Marion's Lookout which gives a superb view over an old glacial landscape. We continue over Cradle Plateau (taking in an ascent of Cradle Mountain if time permits) before descending to Waterfall Hut, the first in a series of wilderness huts that dot our route. Depending on conditions we will either pitch tent on the wooden camp platforms or use the hut which, like all huts along the trail, provides bunks, kitchen benches, heaters and toilets. Huts may be shared with other hikers but we don't expect too much traffic at this time of year, the cold and short days keeping most people tucked inside their homes.
Day 3. With Barn Bluff as a spectacular backdrop we continue south through heathland and alpine gums along relatively flat terrain to Windermere Hut on picturesque Lake Windermere. An early finish will give us time to rest before the long hike through to New Pelion hut the next day.
Day 4. The day begins walking across boardwalked heathland and moorland to Pine Forest Moor. Further on we enter a beautiful myrtle-beech rainforest on the eastern side of Mt Pelion West before descending through rainforest to Frog Flats – the lowest section of the Overland Track (730m above sea level). From Frog Flats we walk up the flank of the valley before reaching the open eucalypt forest on the edge of Pelion Plains. New Pelion Hut is a spacious refuge set on the edge of picturesque buttongrass plains, with the spectacular dolerite spires of Mt Oakleigh to the north.
Day 5. Ascending through rainforest to above 1000m, we reach Pelion Gap and climb Mt Ossa (1617m) if conditions permit. Although non-technical, it’s a committing climb in winter so we choose this option only in ideal conditions. From Pelion Gap we descend gradually to Kia Ora Hut through Pinestone Valley with views to our left of Cathedral Mountain. We remain the night at Kia Ora.
Day 6. We spend much of the day in rainforest. About an hour into the walk we reach historic Du Cane Hut, built in 1910 by Paddy Hartnett, a snarer, miner and bushman. From time to time we visit spectacular waterfalls on the Mersey River to our left. In the afternoon the track swings west and climbs to Du Cane Gap before descending to our final camp at Bert Nichols Hut on Windy Ridge, a stunning location wedged in a notch in the Du Cane Range.
Day 7. We descend through rainforest 4 kilometres to the Pine Valley turnoff. Following Cephissus Creek, crossing two suspension bridges, we head west to Pine Valley Hut, nestled within a moss-covered forest. We lunch here and prepare a light pack for the return walk to the Labyrinth where we take in views of the Acropolis, Walled Mountain and Mt Gould. Stay at Pine Valley Hut.
Day 8. We return to the Overland Track then descend to tall eucalypts and heath shrubs surrounding the Narcissus River. Boardwalks give us a relaxing end to our trek and a suspension bridge across the river adds an exciting finale before reaching Narcissus hut and the ferry across Lake St Clair to Cynthia Bay, the end of our journey.
NOTE: This is a winter trek so some or all of the route may be snow covered. We will carry lightweight snowshoes if significant snow has fallen or is forecast. Participants must be fit and well prepared for this adventure, able to carry a pack of 18kg.
You can fly to Launceston from Melbourne.
Bus service runs between Hobart and Launceston if you prefer to fly to Hobart.
We meet at 10am in Launceston on the day of departure so you may need to arrive the night before. There are many hotels to choose from, find them on your favourite booking website.
We do not provide any accommodation in Launceston or Hobart.
Will it be cold and snowy?
Yes, it will be cold at times, down to -5c, and the route may be snow covered, but we will inform you by email of the conditions before departure. But cold doesn’t mean that you will be cold, we give you lots of trips to use your clothing and equipment optimally. And this is why you have chosen to hike the Overland Track in winter, to experience it as very few do.
What if there is heavy snow?
We will know well in advance if the landscape, and track, will be snow covered. If so, we will carry lightweight snowshoes and trekking poles.
How do we prepare for snow and cold?
Firstly, we try and keep our feet as dry as possible. Your boots must be in excellent condition (no holes in the soles or upper and no broken stitching) and prior and recent waterproof treatment is imperative (use the relevant Nikwax product to waterproof your boots). Gore-Tex lining is also an excellent option, but we still recommend you treat your boots. We also recommend wearing waterproof Seal-Skinz socks. Lots of thin layers is preferable to a couple of thick layers, including head nand handwear, and high-quality waterproof shell jacket and pants are a must. You sleeping bag is stored in a waterproof stuff sac and your pack must also be waterproofed by using a waterproof liner, and a pack cover if you want to be doubly sure. Check out the Equipment List for full details.
Do we sleep in huts?
We have the option of sleeping in a hut every night, but availability is on a first-come, first-served basis as they cannot be booked. Given we are trekking in winter there are significantly fewer people on the trail so less demand on the huts. If there are no bunks available we pitch tent on the wooden platforms next to the huts.
What will Icetrek provide?
We provide Mont tents, Sea to Summit R-Value 4+ sleeping mattress, cooking and eating gear, medical and comms, and all food for the trek.
What will we eat on trek?
You can find our menu here
Who cooks the meals?
We will operate the stoves and provide boiling water for dinner and drinks.
What if there is an emergency and how will we communicate with the outside world?
We carry a number of communications and emergency devices including an Iridium handheld phone, iPhone and PLB (Personal Locator Beacon). Our trip plans are logged with the Icetrek office and with Parks Tasmania.
Is there mobile reception?
We will have mobile reception at the higher points along the trail but it isn't reliable so don't make any promises to be in touch with family and friends.
What if we live in Hobart and want to meet at Cradle Mountain?
That’s not a problem but we do not refund any amounts as it doesn’t affect the cost of the bus charter.
Feel free to submit your own questions.