Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania
Walk through the heart of Tasmania's World Heritage wilderness on the famous 65 kilometre (40 mile) Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.
By Sue Gough Henly
WHAT TO EXPECT
- See diverse landscapes from lakes to mountains to waterfalls
- Stay in comfortable huts and enjoy gourmet food and wine
- Be led by experienced and passionate guides
- Time: 6 days
- Distance: 65 kilometres (40 miles)
- Nearest Major City: Launceston and Devonport
- Transport: Foot
- Price: $$$
Enjoy a six day (or abbreviated four day) fully guided, catered and accommodated walk along Tasmania’s famous Overland Track with the multi-award-winning Cradle Mountain Huts Walk. You'll stay in the only private hut accommodation in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Each of the sustainable huts has minimal environmental impact but maximum comfort. The passionate guides are knowledgeable about the flora, fauna, geology and history of this World Heritage wilderness and prepare terrific meals. Rain jackets, packs, sleeping materials, basic toiletries, and small torches (flashlights) are provided.
DAY 1: WALDHEIM TO BARN BLUFF HUT
Guests meet at Quamby Estate and, after a gear check and introductions, the group goes by bus to Waldheim in Cradle Valley. A maximum of 10 guests and two guides start on the track by 11am. Walk through ancient temperate rainforest and climb the steps of the Overland Track’s steepest section to Marion's Lookout. Marvel at the famous views of Cradle Mountain with mirror-like Dove Lake at its base. Have lunch by Plateau Creek before continuing for about four hours around the base of Cradle Mountain and out along the edge of a spectacular glacial cirque before crossing the moss-carpeted Waterfall Valley to arrive at the first hut, at the base of towering Barn Bluff. Along the way look out for wallabies, possums and wombats.
DAY 2: BARN BLUFF HUT TO PINE FOREST MOOR HUT
Wake to clean mountain air and the warble of native birds such as the currawong and yellow throated wattle. The trail heads south across sedge-land moors dotted with giant grass trees and eucalyptus. There is an optional side trip to Lake Will. Travel across plains where glaciers once slowly moved, scouring out shallow tarns. Ancient rare pencil pines sit with their roots in the water. Rising from the moors, the peaks of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff are behind to the north and the stately Mount Pelion West is directly ahead. There is no hill climbing today, and a wooden boardwalk covers the notoriously muddy Pine Forest Moor.
DAY 3: PINE FOREST MOOR HUT TO PELION PLAINS HUT
Today begins with a long, slow descent past gnarled, moss-covered forests beneath the rocky overhang of Mount Pelion West to the Forth River before it plunges into the Lemonthyme Valley. After a break at Frog Flat beneath tall dolerite peaks, enjoy a long, gentle ascent out of the valley onto the beautiful Pelion Plains, with outstanding views of fluted Mount Oakleigh. You are also likely to see lots of super-sized wombats grazing on the grass. There are many side trips in the Pelion Plains area, with mountains all around, excellent swimming holes and abandoned copper mines as well as peaceful spots for taking a quiet rest.
DAY 4: PELION PLAINS HUT TO KIA ORA HUT
Stare out over the expanse of the South West Wilderness before climbing to Pelion Gap. Pass through emerald forests and head up eucalypt-lined slopes to a clearing. From here you can see Cathedral Mountain, with Pelion East and Mount Ossa towering on either side. It's a further few hours of gentle downhill walking from the gap past cushion plants, ancient pines and white gum trees to Pinestone Valley. Climb a small ridge to Kia Ora Hut, nestled beneath Cathedral Mountain. This is a very relaxing day with an option to make it more challenging. Experienced climbers can do the five hour round trip climb to Mount Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak. The summit is a prime viewing platform for the southern section of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair World Heritage Area.
DAY 5: KIO ORA HUT TO WINDY RIDGE HUT
This is a day of waterfalls and majestic forests. Walk about an hour to Du Cane Hut with its native gardens planted by the wife of long-gone, eccentric animal trapper Paddy Hartnett. From here, wander through some of the oldest forest in the national park, with King Billy pines up to 2000 years old and leatherwood trees covered in large white flowers in spring and summer (September to February). Meander south along the Mersey River, stopping to explore at least one of the three largest and most spectacular waterfalls in Tasmania: Fergusson, D'Alton and Hartnett. In the afternoon, walk over Du Cane Gap then descend through dense myrtle forests beside the spectacular Falling Mountain to Windy Ridge Hut in a U-shaped glacial valley.
DAY 6: WINDY RIDGE HUT TO LAKE ST CLAIR
Travel through open eucalypt forests and the grassy patch of Bowling Green, from where you can see the summit of Mount Acropolis. Continue south into picturesque Pine Valley, beneath the mist-shrouded Du Cane Range. A bridge crossing takes you to Cephissus Creek in a lush rainforest setting. Continue south through dry sclerophyll forest and open button grass plains to Narcissus Hut on Lake St Clair. From here, your walk ends with a 17 kilometre (11 mile) boat cruise on Australia’s deepest natural lake to Cynthia Bay. The return trip to Quamby Estate is through the trout fishing mecca of the highland lakes, descending the rugged Western Tiers to the broad plains of the Northern Midlands.
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