Overland Adventure – Logistics

In this section I look at what walk I want to do, the walk itinerary, track details, and how I will get to and from the walk.

When to go
Other than the various seasons, there are currently two periods for walking the Overland Track. The booking period is open from 1 October to 31 May and walkers pay a fee to walk the track during these dates. Walking direction is restricted from north to south.

Between 1 June and 30 September there is no fee to walk the track and walkers are free from the direction restriction that applies during the booking season.

So, the first question, for us at least, is “When should I go?” I’m a teacher, so an answer is “during school holidays”. It would also be good to start the walk out of the booking season as this would save mw some hundreds of dollars. I have since walked the track on three occasions during the April school holidays, meaning I have had to pay. I am okay with this as I can see what the track fees are used for – track and hut maintenance.

In 2021, the first third school term in Tasmania finishes on Friday 9 April, and the second term begins April 26. This means that my walk needs to be between those dates.

So what does that mean for me? I need to work out what my walk is going to look like so I can work out how many days I will need.

The Overland Track is more than just a single track from Cradle Valley to Lake St Clare. There are a number of side trips walkers can enjoy.

For instance, walkers can climb Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Pelion West, Pelion East, Tasmania’s highest mountain Mt Ossa, Mt Oakley, and The Acropolis to name a few, and explore the Du Cane Range and the Traveler Range. Walkers can also enjoy Lake Wills, Hartnett, D’Alton, and Fergusson Falls, the Never Never and even Junction Lake.

Really, the walk can be as short or as long as time and fitness allows. How many of these side trips I will take in is still a discussion point. Whatever I decide will definitely effect the length of the walk however.

Track times
A major part of the logistics is to work out how long the walk will take me. This will determine the amount of food I take, and will directly impact on the weight I have to carry. While the food I choose to carry will be considered here, I can work out how many days I will need to pack food for here.

There are a number of great sources of information regarding basic track times. We have used John Chapman’s book Overland Track, and the Parks and Wildlife Daily Walk Notes. Both of these are good sources. The Chapman book is widely available at map shops and walking gear shops. I bought our copy online – $23 including postage and with a plastic sleeve. The Parks and Wildlife notes are freely available.

Unfortunately, track distance information in Chapman’s book does not match Parks and Wildlife information. For that reason I’ve included both for comparison in the table below. Walking times are as shown on the Parks and Wildlife information:

Location Distance JC Distance PW Time
Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley 10.4km 10.7km 4-6 hours
Waterfall Valley to Lake Windemere 7.0km 7.8km 2.5-3.5 hours
Lake Windemere to Pelion 14.2km 16.8km 5-7 hours
Pelion to Kia Ora 8.2km 8.6km 3-4 hours
Kia Ora to Windy Ridge (Bert Nichols) 8.6km 9.6km 3.5-4.5 hours
Windy Ridge to Narcissus 9.5km 9.0km 3-4 hours
Narcissus to Cynthia Bay 15.8km 17.5km 5-6 hours
Narcissus to Echo Point 5.7km 2.5 hours
Echo Point to Cynthia Bay 10.1km ~3 hours

These distances and times do not include sidetrips.

I understand that most walkers finish their walk at Narcissus Hut and catch a ferry, which currently costs $50 each person, to Cynthia Bay. Chapman has this to say about that: By taking the boat most walkers don’t complete the Overland Track. This continues south following the western side of Lake St Clair and provides pleasant, sheltered walking. It is well worth walking and is the recommended route to finish.

I need to decide if I will walk the complete track, as Chapman advocates, or whether I will cheat and catch the ferry. For my most recent traverse of the Overland Track I bought passage on the boat just in case I needed it, but I told the operators when I got to Narcissus Hut that I was walking out instead. I lost my money, but it was worth it.