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Ah, winter on the Overland Track. Many dismiss as a less desirable time to trek, but beauty is revealed for those keen to pull on extra layers. For snow lovers, this 8-day expedition often delivers a wintery wonderland.
Longer than our other Overland offerings, this trip begins with pick-up in Launceston arriving in time to dine by the lodge’s crackling fire. We’ve even worked in a ‘spare day’ that can be enjoyed summitting Mt Ossa or Mt Oakleigh … or then again … curled up with a good book and glass of red in Pelion Hut.
The winter trip is about rugging up and taking our good time!
Prices from $4,995 pp
Vehicle transfer from Launceston to Cradle Valley
Day one is about making our way leisurely to Cradle Valley. We’ll arrive at Cradle Mountain Hotel between 4 – 4.30pm, in plenty of time to enjoy dinner at Cradle Mountain Hotels before retiring for the evening.
We ask that you be at Red Feather Inn at 11:30am for a briefing. Our shuttle will collect guests from Chalmers Church, Launceston at 11:10am, before a short transfer to our walk base. Here you will meet your guides, have a gear check and briefing and shared lunch before heading up to the Cradle Valley.
Please note the accommodation tonight is at the Cradle Mountain Hotel and will be booked by us and included in the trip cost. If Cradle Mountain Hotel is not available you will stay in accommodation of a similiar standard.
Approximately 7 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
On the summit of Cradle Mountain in 1910, Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer proclaimed, “This must be a national park for the people for all time.” It’s fitting our journey begins at Waldheim in Cradle Valley, where Weindorfer’s story is told. We set off on the track, venturing through ancient temperate rainforest, passing the dramatic glacially-carved Crater Lake.
Some say this is the hardest day - we climb the steepest section of the whole Overland Track today. Reaching Marion’s Lookout (1250m) takes about an hour, with steps leading through steeper sections. The reward, providing weather conditions allow, is staggering views of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake. Every uphill step is worth it.
If the weather is fine, we stop for lunch by the peaceful Plateau Creek. We then continue on for about another 4 hours around the base of Cradle Mountain, out along the edge of a spectacular glacial cirque. We drop into Waterfall Valley, which we cross before arriving at our hut at the base of the towering Barn Bluff (1559m), having completed the steepest part of your journey (excluding side trips).
It’s a welcome retreat after several hours of this day’s walk traverses exposed alpine plateau, allowing for great views on a clear day. In rough weather, the wind howls over the landscape, making for exciting and sometimes challenging walking conditions.
Approximately 6 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
Today, we’ll be walking across plains where glaciers once rested, slowly moving and scouring out shallow tarns. Although an undulating trek with a few sections of exposed moorland, there are no significant climbs today.
We take our time venturing across vast button grass plains where ancient pencil pines fringe alpine tarns. Rising from the moors, the peaks of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff are behind us. Look ahead, and the stately Mt Pelion West comes into view.
Those looking for additional challenge today can take a side trip to Lake Will, weather permitting. Hugged by pencil pines and with its narrow quartzite sand rim, Lake Will is striking. Keep an eye out for gravel mounds along the way, remnants of Joseph Will’s coal mining efforts in the 1890s.
This evening, at Pine Forest Moor Hut, enjoy our outdoor dining setting with views out to Mt. Oakleigh in fine weather.
Approximately 5 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
Today we begin with a long slow descent around the base of Mt Pelion West down to the Forth River before it plunges into the Lemonthyme Valley. After a break at Frog Flats by the Forth River, we have a long gentle ascent out of the valley onto the beautiful Pelion Plains with outstanding views of Mount Oakleigh (1252m). If the weather allows there are many side trips in the Pelion Plains area with mountains all around, abandoned copper mines, or simply peaceful and humbling spots to rest quietly.
Optional Mt Ossa or Mt Oakleigh
Today is a day of options, and depends largely on the winter elements. If you would like to relax at Pelion Hut and have a cosy rest day, you are most welcome. If the weather is pleasant, we can either climb Mt Ossa (1617m) or Mt Oakleigh (1252m). The guides will talk through weather-appropriate options with the group.
Approximately 4 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
Today begins with a climb of almost 300m to Pelion Gap through beautiful rainforest. Pelion Gap is a plateau stretching between Mt Pelion East and Mt Ossa, affording fantastic views to the south as well as back to the north.
There’s plenty of time for side trips from Pelion Gap including Mt Pelion East. From Pelion Gap it's a further few hours of gentle downhill to the hut. Today, choose to keep things relaxed or challenge yourself with a wintery side trip if the weather looks kind. Once we arrive at Kia Ora Hut, enjoy a Tasmanian drop with spectacular views out to Cathedral Mountain.
Approximately 5 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
Day five is about icy-flowing waterfalls. We depart Kia Ora hut and walk about an hour to Du Cane, where a 1910-built hut remains from the long-gone days of animal trapping. Du Cane Hut is a fine spot to rest, with native gardens planted by trapper Paddy Hartnett's wife, during her long stints in the bush with her husband.
From here, we wander through some of the oldest forest in the national park, with King Billy pines as much as 2000 years old. Now, we are above the Mersey River, which descends deeply northward towards Bass Strait, spilling down cliff faces.
There are three major sets of waterfalls in the area. We aim to visit one or more of these, choosing the best to have lunch beside depending on conditions. During the afternoon, we make our way over Du Cane Gap, then descend beside the spectacular Falling Mountain to Windy Ridge Hut. Tonight is a celebratory one, our last evening on the track.
Approximately 3 hours walking (more in challenging weather)
Our destination today is Australia’s deepest natural lake – Lake St Clair – shaped by glaciations over two million years. Birdsong helps us along this final day as we walk mainly through cool temperate eucalypt forest.
We arrive at Narcissus at the northern end of Lake St Clair in time for lunch, before boarding the Idaclair cruise boat for a spectacular 17km cruise back to Cynthia Bay. There’s typically around half an hour to look around the Visitor Centre here.
The return trip to the walk base at Red Feather Inn is through the trout fishing mecca of the highland lakes, descending the rugged Western Tiers.