January 15-20, 2019

Tasmania 2019 Adventure Trip 

Overland Track Traverse:  Ronnie Creek to Narcissus Bay to Cynthia Bay

Cradle Mountain (5069′)

Barn Bluff (5115′)

Mt. Ossa (5305′)

——————– Trip Report Summary ——————–

Region: Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park (Tasmania)

Starting Point: Ronnie Creek / Overland North Trailhead (Cradle Mountain Road)

Way Points: Cradle Valley & Ronnie Creek Bridge & Crater Falls & Crater Lake & Marions Lookout & Cradle Plateau & Kitchen Hut & Little Plateau Tarns & Benson Peak Emergency Shelter & Waterfall Valley Hut & Waterfall Valley & Lake Holmes & Lake Will Plateau & Lake Windermere & Windermere Hut & Lake Curran & Forth Valley Lookout & Pine Forest Moor & Pelion Creek & Frog Flats & Forth River Bridge & Pelion Plains & Pelion Hut & Douglas Creek & Pelion Gap & Pinestone Creek Bridge & Kia Ora Hut & Kia Ora Creek & DuCane Hut & DuCane Gap & Bert Nichols Hut & Stony Creek & Bowling Green & Narcissus River Suspension Bridge & Narcissus Hut & Narcissus Bay Jetty (hike via Overland Track);  Lake St. Clair & Cynthia Bay Jetty (boat ride via Lake St. Clair Ferry)

Ending Point: Lakeside / Overland South Trailhead (Cynthia Bay Resort)

Campsites: Little Plateau Tarns & Windermere Hut & Pelion Hut & Kia Ora Hut & Narcissus Hut

Summit: Cradle Mountain (climb via trail—West Slope—North Ridge)

Summit: Barn Bluff (climb via trail—North Face—Northeast Ridge)

Side Trip: Ossa–Doris Saddle (hike via trail)

Summit: Mt. Ossa (climb via Northeast Ridge—East Notch—South Slope)

Approximate Total Stats (including three sidetrips):  48 miles traveled; 10,000 feet gained; 10,400 feet lost.

Approximate Total Stats (excluding all sidetrips):  39 miles traveled; 5500 feet gained; 5900 feet lost.

——————– Trip Overview ——————–

History:

The Overland Track is a long, continuous trail located within Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park in northwestern Tasmania.  It is not only the most famous trail on this island but also one of the most famous trails in all of Australia.  Like many long trails, the Overland Track formed incrementally, over a period of many decades, and as its popularity grew, usage exceeded capacity.  There was a time when several hundred hikers would start out on this trail every day of the summer, travelling either southbound or northbound.

Eventually, the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service started a fee-based permit system.  Nowadays, they issue permits for only 34 southbound hikers per day (northbound travel is not allowed in the busy summer season), and the fees have funded much-needed improvements to the trail itself and to the accommodations along the way.

Overland Track Logo

Trail Route:

The Overland Track officially begins at Ronnie Creek Trailhead, not far up-valley from the bustling Cradle Mountain Visitor Center.  It extends southward through a mountainous region and then descends to Narcissus Bay at the northern tip of Lake St. Clair—a distance of 48 miles.

An 11-mile trail extension along the shore of Lake St. Clair leads to the Cynthia Bay Visitor Center, but most hikers opt out of this additional walk.  Instead, they ride a ferry boat down the lake.  Having limited time, we took the ferry boat option too, but the Lakeside Track looks like an enjoyable way to spend an extra day.

Overland Track Map

Shuttle Transport:

Because the Overland Track is a one-way traverse, there is the pesky matter of connecting the two end points—either by leaving a vehicle at the ending point and shuttling over to the starting point, or by leaving a vehicle at the starting point and shuttling back over from the ending point.  It’s a 3-hour drive any way you slice it.  We used McDermott Coaches to accomplish the latter approach, but they seem to be the only transport firm in the region and are quite expensive.  Another hiker reported that he’d hired a private Uber driver to shuttle him, at a considerably lower price.  It is worth considering both options.

Flora and Fauna:

The Overland Track passes through a combination of lowland forests, buttongrass meadowlands, swampy moorlands, and semi-alpine shrublands.  Common trees are beech, myrtle, and eucalyptus.  This floral assemblage creates a picturesque and exotic landscape that seems quite unfamiliar and fascinating to newcomers such as me.  Perhaps the closest thing I’ve seen in Washington was around Umptanum Ridge or in the Okanogan Highlands, but that’s not really a good comparison.

Overland Track Thru High Moorland

A newcomer’s unfamiliarity and fascination will get even deeper with respect to the wildlife in Tasmania.  Expect to see plenty of possums, wallabies, and snakes along the trail or in camp, along with an occasional quoll or echidna (an adorable little critter that looks as though a bunny, a porcupine, and an ant-eater were genetically blended).  Tasmanian devils are, sadly, a rare and endangered animal, so you would be very fortunate to see one in the wild.

Echidna (stock photo)

Weather:

Tasmania lies approximately within the same latitude band as Oregon, and both are coastal states.  Not surprisingly, their weather conditions tend to be somewhat similar.  For a January trip on the Overland Track, one could reasonably expect to have weather similar to that of the Oregon Cascades in July.  During our week on the trail, we experienced the following:  temps as high as 90F and as low as 40F; hot and sunny days; cloudy and humid days; cool and drizzly days; midday thunderstorms; chilly nights; and windstorms.  In other words, expect anything and everything.

Storm Clouds Building Over Cathedral Mtn

Topography:

Compared to most mountain trails, the Overland Track is not a high-elevation route.  It begins and ends at an elevation below 3000 feet, and it reaches a maximum elevation of only about 4200 feet on the Cradle Plateau.  Furthermore, the highest peak in the vicinity (Mt. Ossa) is scarcely over 5300 feet.  Nonetheless, much of the trail traverses semi-alpine plateaus and passes that are very exposed to weather, making them seem much higher than the elevations indicate.  Also, the higher peaks jut out of the surrounding plateaus in a manner that gives them a respectable degree of prominence, projection, and isolation.  I found parts of the landscape to be reminiscent of Monument Valley in Arizona and Utah.

Barn Bluff From Cradle Mtn Summit

Geology:

In very general terms, geological conditions along the Overland Track are characterized by three main rock types.  The lowest rock layer consists of quartzite, a hard, metamorphosed, quartz-rich sandstone that is exposed in many of the deep canyons throughout the region.  The intermediate rock layer consists of siltstone, sandstone, conglomerate, and related sedimentary deposits, which can be seen as cliffs or ledges immediately above and below the trail in many locations.

The highest—and by far the most interesting—rock consists of dolerite, which constitutes all of the alpine peaks and ridges in this region.  You might logically assume that dolerite was named after some old geologist named Dole, but in fact the name comes from the Greek word for “difficult to interpret or describe.”  I was actually relieved to discover this meaning after having had so much trouble identifying the type of rock I was seeing.

Dolerite has a geochemistry and black color equivalent to basalt and gabbro, but it has a crystalline texture that lies between these two common rocks.  Furthermore, it fractures into tall, slender columns—much like basalt—but the columns are irregularly polygonal rather than being the uniform hexagonal columns typical of basalt.

Anyway, enough technical stuff.  The only thing you non-geologists need to know is that the dolerite has created an attractive array of craggy peaks and jagged ridges standing high above the plateaus and valleys.

Mt Oakleigh From Pelion Hut

Trail Conditions:

For many years, the Overland Track was notorious for its mudholes and sloppy trail conditions.  However, the modern permit system has allowed for extensive trail improvements, including many miles of wooden boardwalks through the moorlands and other soft-soil areas.  These boardwalks generally consist of transverse “duckboards” in wide-track locations and longitudinal planks in narrow-track locations.  Composite grids have been placed in some of the newly renovated trail segments.

All boardwalks are solidly constructed, and transition areas even exhibit a bit of craftsmanship.  A much-appreciated detail is the chicken wire that covers most boardwalks for traction purposes.  The overall result is that hikers can now have some confidence of arriving in camp with clean boots—at least during the summer months.

Plank To Duckboard Transition On Overland Track

Camping and Accommodations:

Backcountry camping, or “wild camping” as the Aussies call it, is officially allowed but highly discouraged along the Overland Track.  I think the park service is concerned about damage to fragile semi-alpine vegetation.  However, what really dissuades backpackers is the ever-present risk of snakes and small mammals wandering into one’s camp at night.

Fortunately, there are well-equipped huts located all along the trail, at a spacing approximately equal to a reasonable half-day or full-day of travel.  These huts vary greatly in age and size, but each one includes a dining room (with tables and chairs but no stoves or sinks), a bunkroom (with wooden sleeping platforms but no mattresses), an exterior latrine, and large rainwater tanks.  Also, each hut has several exterior wooden platforms to accommodate backpacking tents.

Tent Platforms At Pelion Hut

Drinking and Cooking Water:

Tasmania is considered a fairly wet place by Australian standards but will appear somewhat arid to hikers accustomed to the prevalence of streams and springs throughout the Cascades and Olympics.  In order to provide reliable drinking and cooking water sources for Overland Track hikers, all huts collect rainwater from their roofs and store it in large tanks.  Although the park service officially recommends boiling this rainwater before drinking it, we found that none of the “locals” follow this policy.  I can say that our group drank copious amounts of untreated rainwater and never had any gastric distress.

On some days, we were easily able to carry enough water to travel from one hut to the next.  However, some of the longer, hotter days required supplemental water from streams or ponds along the way.  In these cases, we took a reasonably conservative approach to water treatment.  Water obtained from ponds or low-elevation streams was filtered, whereas water from clear, higher-elevation streams was not.

Filling Water Bottles From Rain Barrels At Narcissus Hut

Peak-Bagging:

There are a half-dozen summits that would be both interesting and accessible to a peak-bagger hiking the Overland Track.  All of these peaks are composed of dolerite, which tends to be fairly solid and stable, with a very grippy weathered surface.  We were pleased to tuck in three of the six peaks during our traverse.

While travelling from north to south, the first peak you come to is also the most famous peak in Tasmania:  Cradle Mountain (5069 feet).  The ascent is a fun and athletic Class 2-3 rock scramble on huge boulders.  Due to its fame and proximity to the trailhead, expect to be joined by 50 to 100 other eager ascensionists on any summer day.

The next peak to the south is perhaps the most visually striking peak along the trail:  Barn Bluff (5115 feet).  It rises up from the surrounding plateau much like the sandstone buttes in Monument Valley.  The ascent is an interesting and slightly convoluted Class 2-3 rock scramble.

Farther south is Mt. Ossa (5305 feet), the highest peak in all of Tasmania.  An excellent trail leads from Pelion Gap up to a viewpoint at the Ossa–Doris Saddle, then a climber’s path continues up and over two ridges (with a few Class 3 moves) to the broad summit plateau.  The true summit is a dolerite horn that requires some exposed Class 4 moves to surmount.  Most folks will be more than happy with their view from the easier rocks nearby.

Other worthwhile peaks in the Mt. Ossa vicinity include Mt. Oakleigh (4219 feet), Mt. Pelion West (5118 feet), and Mt. Pelion East (4793 feet).  All three have trails or marked routes leading to the summit, and all are reputed to be Class 2-3 scrambles.

Ascending Toward Barn Bluff

Camping Equipment:

Although there are huts conveniently spaced along the Overland Track, few of the huts have enough bunks to accommodate the number of hikers coming in during the summertime.  There is also the possibility of a hiker not being able to reach a hut, due to weather, injury, or other reasons.  As such, the park service requires all hikers to carry a tent.  We found that the outdoor tent platforms were quite comfortable and, in most cases, preferable to sleeping inside the huts.  (Snorers beware: the community bunkrooms serve effectively as sound-amplification chambers at night.)

Whether sleeping inside the huts or outside in a tent, you will need a sleeping pad and pillow.  Campstoves, cookware, dinnerware, and utensils are also required for cooking and eating; fires are prohibited throughout the area, and none of the huts are equipped with stoves, sinks, or cookware.  Another essential but often overlooked item is toilet paper, since it is not provided in the latrines.

Pelion Hut Dining Area

Trail and Hut Clothing:

The park service requires that all hikers bring enough clothing to accommodate a wide variety of weather conditions, ranging from hot, sunny days to cold, rainy days.  Basically, we packed as if spending a week in the Cascades during July.  Our personal clothing kits included a sun hat, a tuque, several lightweight shirts, shorts, long pants, a fleece sweater, a puffy coat, a rain parka, rain pants, and trail shoes or boots.  We encountered the full gamut of weather conditions during our week on the trail and, at one time or another, used every item of clothing that we carried.

In addition to trail clothing, a pair of sandals or lightweight shoes, a clean shirt, and lightweight pants were very much appreciated for lounging around the huts each evening.

Traversing Waterfall Valley On A Rainy Afternoon

Trail Gaiters:

One other item of clothing deserves a special mention: gaiters.  Nearly every source of information that we read before our trip made a strong recommendation to wear knee-high gaiters for the purpose of warding off mud, snakes, leaches, brambles, and all other manner of trail unpleasantries.  However, we ultimately found that gaiters weren’t really essential for those purposes, simply because the trail has been so greatly improved in recent years with features such elevated boardwalks, stone pavers, rock steps, gravel, and fill soil.

Nonetheless, I observed that most Overland Track hikers still do wear gaiters—either out of dogged tradition or out of perceived need.  Regardless of their reason, the knee-high gaiter is so ubiquitous on the track that it has seemingly become a de rigueur fashion item.  If you want to look like a true “Overlander,” then you will certainly want to wear gaiters every day on the trail.

If you want to take it one step further and look like a true Tasmanian (or would that be “Tasmaniac”?), I recommend getting a pair of Quagmire Canvas Gaiters made by Sea To Summit.  These stylish and superbly constructed leggings aren’t actually guaranteed to fend off aggressive snakes, but they seem likely be more effective than any other trail gaiter I’ve seen.

Look Like A Tasmaniac In These Quagmire Gaiters

 

——————– Full Trip Report ——————–

Our immediate party of four on the Overland Track comprised Eileen, Brooke, Callum, and me.  Our entire group of 34 hikers included many mainland Australians, several Tasmanians, a few Americans, and a couple of America-to-Australia transplants.  Because every daily group of 34 typically stays on the same general schedule, moving from one hut to the next, a “hiking peloton” naturally forms on the trail.  This social intermingling was, unexpectedly, one of our favorite aspects of the Overland Track traverse.

Day 1 – Cradle Mountain Visitor Center to Little Plateau Tarns + Cradle Mountain:

We left our vehicle in the huge (and free) parking lot at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Center and boarded an 8:30am shuttle bus heading up-valley.  Although the bus was jam-packed with people, no other backpackers got off at the Ronnie Creek Trailhead; everyone else looked to be day-hikers.  We shouldered backpacks, took our obligatory trailhead photos, and started up the Overland Track.

Eileen & Cal & Brooke At Start Of Overland Track

An elevated duckboard walkway led us through the expansive buttongrass meadows of Cradle Valley.

Boardwalk At Start Of Overland Track

The trail eventually crossed Ronnie Creek and began ascending steeply toward Marions Lookout, passing attractive Crater Lake along the way.

Eileen & Jim Hiking Above Crater Lake (photo by Brooke)

We stopped at the busy lookout (1.7 hours + 1150 feet from TH) to admire the rugged hulk of Cradle Mountain.

Eileen & Jim & Brooke & Cal At Marions Lookout

Our stop at the lookout was cut short by the sudden arrival of a thunderstorm.  We hastily donned raingear and continued up the trail as it wandered through high moorlands below the cliffs of Cradle Mountain.

Curving Boardwalk Trail Across Moorland
Cradle Mtn Silhouette From Overland Track

We stopped at Kitchen Hut (2.8 hours + 1350 feet from TH), an old emergency shelter, and stashed our backpacks, then struck off toward Cradle Mountain.

Old Kitchen Hut Below Cradle Mtn

Most of the climb up Cradle Mountain involves fun Class 2-3 scrambling on super-grippy and remarkably stable boulders of weathered dolerite.  The route is well marked with white poles…and dozens of colorful scramblers.

Scrambling Up Boulderfield On Cradle Mtn

Brooke and Callum charged out ahead, but we all met on the summit about 2:30pm (2.1 hours + 1200 feet from Kitchen Hut).

Jim & Eileen & Cal & Brooke On Cradle Mtn Summit

The summit has a large rock cairn topped with a brass locator plaque.  Judging by the immense popularity of Cradle Mountain, this plaque likely get polished by 10,000 hands every year.

Locator Plaque On Cradle Mtn Summit

We all had a lengthy stay to soak in the summit views, and then Brooke and Callum headed down.  Eileen and I followed about 15 minutes later and were surprised to find them only a short distance below the summit—in obvious distress.  Brooke had sprained her ankle in the boulderfield and was in pain.  Eileen quickly taped up her ankle with kinesthetic tape, then we began slowly working our way down the mountain.  Brooke made good use of Eileen’s trademark butt-sliding technique.

Descending From Cradle Mtn Summit

Eventually, we made it down to Kitchen Hut and retrieved our backpacks.  Callum carried Brooke’s backpack in order to take some load off her injured ankle, and we all headed southward on the Overland Track.  In a short mile, where the trail crosses the Little Plateau, we made camp near some small tarns (7.5 hours + 2700 feet from TH, including sidetrip).

Camp 1 At Little Plateau Tarns

Although “wild camping” such as this is officially discouraged along the Overland Track, we didn’t really have much choice in the matter.  Besides, it gave us an ideal opportunity to experience evening alpenglow on the steep ramparts of Cradle Mountain.

Evening Alpenglow On Cradle Mtn From Camp 1

Day 2 – Little Plateau Tarns to Windermere Hut + Barn Bluff:

We awoke to a cool and perfectly clear morning on the high plateau.  Barn Bluff, our summit goal for the day, beckoned us from the southern horizon.

Morning Sun On Barn Bluff From Camp 1

Because Brooke and Cal would be moving slowly along the trail, Eileen and I headed out early for Barn Bluff, with plans to rendezvous at Waterfall Valley Hut later in the day.  A couple miles out of camp, we came upon an interesting emergency shelter beside the trail.  It was a plastic “igloo” that had been designed for use in Antarctica.  This gives some indication of the blizzard conditions that hikers often encounter here in the wintertime!

Emergency Igloo Shelter Below Benson Peak

At the Barn Bluff trail junction (1.4 hours + 170 feet from camp), we stashed our backpacks and headed off with summit rucksacks.  Several miles of boardwalk led us toward the prominent peak.

Crossing Moorland Toward Barn Bluff

When the formal trail ended, we followed a marked climbing route up through Class 2-3 dolerite cliffs, then spiraled around to the summit (1.9 hours + 1200 feet from junction).  Cradle Mountain rose up to our north, and the picturesque Lake Will Plateau sprawled out to our south.

Cradle Mtn From Barn Bluff Summit
Lake Will From Barn Bluff Summit

We returned to the trail junction (4.3 hours + 1350 feet RT), collected our backpacks, and continued along the main trail.  In mid-afternoon, we arrived at Waterfall Valley Hut, where Brooke and Cal were waiting for us.

Descending To Waterfall Valley Hut

Although our plan was to stop here for the day, the resident ranger assured us that we would likely have enough daylight to reach the next hut.  This would get us back on schedule, and Brooke was willing to push her sore ankle for another 5 miles.  We continued onward, following the earthen and boardwalk track through expansive fields of buttongrass dotted with gnarled trees.

Traversing Moorland To Windermere Hut

When Eileen’s hip flexor threatened to spasm a couple hours later, we considered the option of wild-camping on the Lake Will Plateau.  However, a sudden wind-and-rain squall kicked up and prompted us to keep moving.  We dropped off the plateau and arrived at Windermere Hut shortly before 7:30pm (11.1 hours + 2100 feet from Camp 1, including sidetrip).

Arriving At Windermere Hut On Day 2

Being the last of our peloton to arrive, we missed out on the tent platforms.  Instead, we had to sleep inside the hut.  I was not pleased about this…until it started raining in the middle of the night.

Day 3 – Windermere Hut to Pelion Hut:

It was still raining lightly when we left Windermere Hut in the morning.  Our Overland route took us up through foggy meadows and high moorlands to the Forth Valley Lookout, then down through thick forest to a bridge across the Forth River (4.8 hours + 350 feet from Windermere Hut).  We were now back in our proper peloton and recognizing more fellow hikers on the trail.

Foggy Morning On Day 3

A gradual ascent from the river took us up to Pelion Hut (6.4 hours + 1100 feet from Windermere Hut).  We pitched our tents on one of the wooden platforms above the hut.

Arriving At Pelion Hut On Day 3

Being a relatively new hut on the Overland Track, Pelion offers a spacious dining room and full-width veranda that looks across a large meadow to craggy Mt. Oakleigh.  The hut’s helipad provided an even better view, so it became the preferred apres-dinner spot for socializing and watching the sunset.

Watching Sunset From Helipad At Pelion Hut

Day 4 – Pelion Hut to Kia Ora Hut + Mt. Ossa:

The day dawned mild and clear, so Eileen and I set our sights on an ascent of Mt. Ossa, Tasmania’s highest summit.  We hiked up to Pelion Gap (1.7 hours + 1000 feet from Pelion Hut), stashed backpacks, and headed up the newly renovated trail leading to the Ossa – Doris Saddle.

Pelion Gap Trail Sign
Eileen Heading For Mt Ossa

Once past the saddle (1.3 hours + 1000 feet from gap), the good trail degenerated to a rough, steep climber’s path.  We worked our way up, crossed through a lower notch (Class 3), traversed a hanging basin, then crossed through a higher notch (Class 2).

Scrambling Up Mt Ossa

The higher notch gave access to Mt. Ossa’s summit plateau, which is a beautiful alpine slope of dolerite pavers, moss, and tiny tarns.  We wandered up to the highest rocks (1.7 hours + 1750 feet from gap).

Eileen On Mt Ossa Summit Plateau

A bit of exploration revealed that the highest point is a rock horn near the edge of the plateau.  I gave it a go and found it to be a sporty, exposed Class 4 scramble.  Getting back down was even more sporty.

Jim On Mt Ossa Summit Horn (photo by Eileen)

Fun as it was to tuck in the true summit, the view was just as good on the flatter rocks below.  We found a good lunch spot and enjoyed the scenery.

Mt Pelion West & Barn Bluff & Cradle Mtn From Mt Ossa

We retraced our route back down to Pelion Gap (4.6 hours + 2000 feet RT), shouldered backpacks, and headed southward on the main track.  Pinestone Creek, one of the few clear-running streams along the trail, provided a much-needed water source in the afternoon heat.

Hiking Thru Pinestone Valley

We arrived at Kia Ora Hut late in the afternoon (9.2 hours + 3000 feet from Pelion Hut).  Brooke and Cal had arrived several hours earlier and had their tent pitched on a wooden platform near the hut.  Eileen and I set up our tent and then went for a refreshing dip in Kia Ora Creek.

Arriving At Kia Ora Hut On Day 4
Swimming Hole At Kia Ora Creek (photo by Brooke)

This is a smaller, older hut, so dinner was a somewhat crowded and raucous affair.  However, because we were feeling much more familiar with our peloton, we all really enjoyed the social time.  I personally like to think that our legacy at the hut will forever be the “Formation of a Billabong” sketch that I added to the hut’s public journal.

Jim Drawing A Billabong At Kia Ora Hut (photo by Brooke)

Day 5 – Kia Ora Hut to Narcissus Hut:

We awoke to a chilly, overcast morning, following a night of rain showers.  Today, our peloton stayed closely together on the way up to DuCane Hut, an old emergency shelter built in 1910.

Rest Stop At Old DuCane Hut On Day 5

Eileen and I then made a breakaway for DuCane Gap, our final mountain pass on the trail.  We crossed over the gap (3.6 hours + 950 feet from Kia Ora Hut) and gradually descended to Bert Nichols Hut, which is the newest and largest hut on the Overland Track.  Brooke and Cal caught up to us while we were having lunch on the deck.

Cal & Brooke & Jim & Eileen At Bert Nichols Hut

Bert Nichols Hut is the normal stopping point on Day 5 of the Overland Track.  However, spending the night here would have required a very early morning start in order for us to catch our 9:45am ferry the next day.  In contrast, those hikers scheduled for the afternoon ferry would have a leisurely morning at this hut.  After some deliberation, we decided to push on to the next hut.

We donned backpacks and continued down the long Narcissus River Valley, stopping several times to rest our feet and tend to blisters.  Eventually, we crossed the river on a nifty suspension bridge.

Eileen On Suspension Bridge Over Narcissus River

It was late afternoon when we limped into Narcissus Hut (9.3 hours + 1100 feet from Kia Ora Hut), with sore feet but happy to have the long valley trail behind us.  Everyone except Cal hopped into the nearby river to clean off.

Brooke At Narcissus Hut On Day 5

Eileen and I pitched our tent on an outdoor platform, whereas Brooke and Cal chose to sleep inside the hut.  Because we had bypassed the Bert Nichols Hut, most of our peloton was now behind us; consequently, we were sharing the hut with “strangers” on this final night.

Day 6 – Narcissus Hut to Cynthia Bay to Cradle Mountain Visitor Center:

Knowing that this was our last day of the Overland Track, breakfast was a quiet and somewhat somber affair.  Afterwards, we slowly packed up and then walked down to the Narcissus Bay jetty.  There were about 20 to 25 of us waiting for the Lake St. Clair ferry, which arrived at 9:30am.

Lake St Clair Ferry In Narcissus Bay

Backpacks were loaded, hikers were seated, and safety lectures were given.  Then we shoved off for our 30-minute cruise down to Cynthia Bay Visitor Center.  Upon arrival, everyone posed with the sign marking the official terminus of the Overland Track.

Cal & Brooke & Eileen & Jim At End Of Overland Track

We had plenty of time for an early lunch and a tour of the visitor center before our shuttle bus arrived at 1:00pm.  Audrey, our very friendly and capable driver, negotiated the curvy mountain roads like a rally-car driver and deposited us back at Cradle Mountain Visitor Center shortly after 4:00pm to close the loop on this marvelous backpacking trip.

——————– Route Maps / Sketches ——————–

Overland Track Map Full
Cradle Mountain Area Photomap
Overland Map 1
Overland Map 2
Overland Map 3
Overland Map 4
Overland Map 5

 

——————– Photo Gallery (click to enlarge) ——————–