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Tickets Icon Looking to browse and book Australia & NZ's best WALKS AND HIKES?

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ExperienceOz presents

AUSTRALIA'S MOST EPIC WALKS AND HIKES

1. OVERLAND TRACK, TAS

TRACK HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Extensive 6 day hiking trek
  • Iconic mountains, pristine lakes
  • Private lodges with showers & food

WHEN TO GO:

  • Summer best time of year
  • Comfortably warm temperatures

SUMMARY OF THE TRACK

Widely considered one of the world's best bushwalks, Tasmania's Overland Track is stunning natural beauty exemplified to the fullest. Featuring an environment reminiscent of the best parts of Switzerland and New Zealand, this 6 day journey provides walkers with all the best hallmarks of alpine scenery – pristine mountain streams, radiant waterfalls, vibrant meadows and numerous other phenomena all combine to make for a breathtaking spectacle awaiting around each new bend of its roughly 65-kilometre-long expanse.

Featuring the option to stay in a series of high-grade huts for accommodation, it combines scenery and comfort into a single unforgettable trip.

"“Bucket list item” might be a cliché thrown around slightly too much in travel literature, but there's few better ways to describe this epic journey – Australia's most memorable adventure to be had on two feet."

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The Tasmanian landscape is a slice of mountainous, green goodness that stands out as a true walking gem in Australia which differentiates itself from a relatively flat and arid mainland, and during this Great Walk Tassie's environment truly shows its colours. Valleys that have been carved out of the earth by eons of glacial activity are surrounded by jagged ranges jutting seemingly out of nowhere, many of them with uniquely odd shapes personified best by Cradle Mountain itself. During your 6 days on the track, you'll see the mountain from a variety of different perspectives, and its presence serves as a persistently-looming backdrop to all the rest of the incredible scenery along the way.

This wonderful track is also surprisingly beginner-friendly, as despite possessing a few more challenging sections the Overland Track is generally both easy to navigate and in a respectable condition – which serves to make it an epic experience for first-time bushwalkers who are prepared to carry a full pack. The Overland Track can be done in either direction from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair, however due to the warmer months of the year also being the busiest, walking north to south with prior booking is required. In short, if you're looking to take part in your first of the Great Walks of Australia, the Overland Track should be your top choice.

The Overland Track in Pictures:

Overland Track 1 Overland Track 2 Overland Track 3 Overland Track 4

In terms of photo opportunities, the Overland Track is likewise mostly unmatched in terms of its competition throughout Australia; this breathtaking part of the Tassie countryside is one of the most photographed regions in the country for a reason, and a number of its lookouts overlook panoramas that blend the deep blues of lakes that clash brilliantly with the lush greenery of the land and the snow-dusted peaks of mountains.

Each season brings with it a completely new aspect of beauty on the Overland Track as well – in Autumn, numerous species of bright fungi add a splash of colour to the proceedings, while Winter's snowy layerings of powder add a more traditional alpine atmosphere, and in Spring the native flora in full bloom makes for meadows teeming with vivid hues. However, it's Summer that's widely considered to be the best season to do the Overland Track due to warmer temperatures (expect daily maximums of around a comfortable 21°C) and longer days – although it's also easily the busiest period as a result.

The Overland Track Map:

Overland Track Map
Click to view full map.

The Overland Track's north to south route starts in Launceston, and stretches for roughly 65 kilometres to Lake St. Clair with the option to extend the trek to hike past the expanse of the lake, which adds around another 17km to the journey. There's long-term car parking available at the Cradle Mountain Visitor's Centre, so self-driving there from Launceston – or perhaps spending the night in some accommodation around Cradle Mountain before setting out – and then commencing the journey is a viable option. Once underway, you'll quickly see why the track has such a sterling reputation; similarities to the likes of New Zealand's famous Milford Track are obvious, and as a result the business and popularity of the track means you'll almost certainly soon meet other travellers in all but the coldest times of the year.

Before setting out, it's advisable to register at base camp at the Visitor's Centre for peace of mind, as while it's a popular walk you'll still be traversing a wilderness region that's known for unpredictable weather conditions. If you're doing the Overland Track as a DIY, unguided affair, ensure you've got sturdy, waterproof hiking boots and more than sufficient water and food to last, as well as a decent tent if you're going the camping route. Alternatively, the Overland Track can be done utilising its upper-market “Cradle Mountain Huts Walk” option that features a series of high-grade huts along the way that serve as quality accommodation for resting your bones and muscles after a solid day of hiking.

Each of the huts feature hot showers and guests are provided with meals, which can help alleviate the need to carry a heavier pack compared to some of the other Great Walks and thus make each day's trek a lot more bearable. While this option is obviously far more expensive than the independent walk, the reduced stress goes a long way to enhancing what is already a marvellous experience. If you're doing the Overland Track over this predetermined 6 day course, here's a sampling of some of the diversity and highlights you'll witness throughout each day.

Track sections and best parts:

  • Day 1: 12km, approx. 7 hours - The journey begins from Ronny Creek near the base of Cradle Mountain itself, passing through a section of temperate rainforest and then by the glacier-carved spectacle of lovely Crater Lake . This section of the Overland Track is quite steep, with a fairly sharp incline that lasts roughly 1 hour but leads to the wonderful spectacle obtained at the top of Marion's Lookout with a panorama of Cradle Mountain and its neighbouring Dove Lake – perhaps Tasmania's most beautiful panorama. The trek pushes on around Cradle Mountain's base and descends into Waterfall Valley as the rocky spectacle of Barn Bluff – a unique, square-edged formation that juts out of the greenery – comes into view. The first hut on the Cradle Huts Walk is located here, while there's also a campsite overlooking the bluff at Waterfall Valley, and the day's walk concludes for the day. Barn Bluff Tasamania
  • Day 2: 12km, approx. 6 hours - The second day makes for fairly easy going with no significant inclines, and this section of the track is renowned for its abundance of native fauna – if you're lucky, you may be able to spot Echidnas on the ground and massive Wedge-Tailed Eagles (the world's largest bird of prey) soaring in the skies. Many lakes, which remain as a reminder of this part of Tassie's glacial past, can be seen while making your way over the undulating moorland that has been upgraded to feature man-made paths over traditionally muddy terrain. Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff loom in the distance as you culminate the day with a walk through native rainforest before stopping for the evening at Pine Forest Moor Hut.
  • Day 3: 10km, approx. 5 hours - Head down around to the base of Mt Pelion West as the track continues its downward aspect before reaching Frog Flats – the lowest part of the track that runs alongside the Forth River. The journey then heads up into the Pelion Planes where the peak of the 1252 metre high Mt. Oakleigh makes for an impressive spectacle. Plenty of side trips are available here, including spots for swimming for those looking for some refreshment in the warmer months of the year. The day culminates in a walk through a section of dense rainforest before arriving at Pelion Hut.
  • Day 4: 7km, approx. 3.5 hours - Wake up to a wonderful view of Mt. Oakleigh then get walking with a semi-climb up to Pelion Gap, past the majestic peak of Mt. Ossa (Tasmania's highest mountain clocking in at 1617 metres high, with the option for a multi-hour climb up the peak that offers a stunning panorama and is well worth the effort). Continue on downhill from the gap with a gentle descent reflective of what is largely designed to be an easygoing day to focus on absorbing the scenery should you choose not to partake in any of the side options. Arrive at Kia Ora Hut as the day comes to a close. Mt Ossa Tasmania
  • Day 5: 9km, approx. 4 hours - Another of the more impressive days on the Overland Track in terms of scenery, wild greenery is the name of the game here as the walk largely consists of sections of lush, ancient forest. Head above the Mersey River – a popular white water rafting destination – and take in the sights of D'Alton, Fergusson and Hartnett waterfalls that are particularly impressive if there's been a reasonable amount of recent rainfall. Head over Du Cane Gap and make the descent down to Windy Ridge Hut to spend the night in the forest.
  • Day 6: 9km, approx. 3 hours - The final day involves a walk through cool, forested areas surrounded by the sounds of birds with the goal of arriving at one of the other major highlights of the entire journey – Lake St. Clair itself. Australia's deepest lake has been shaped by glacial activity over roughly 2 million years and serves as the headwater of the Derwent River, which serves as the lifeblood of Tasmanian capital Hobart. The lake is surrounded by beautiful forest and offers additional opportunities for further exploration around the lake should you so choose. Most journeys will conclude here at the Lake's Narcissus Hut, where you'll be able to board a ferry and head back to the Visitor's Centre at Cynthia Bay.

The Overland Track in Motion:

Perhaps one of the best parts of the Overland Track is that there's enough flexibility and optional side-treks for additional discovery that it can be just as difficult as you want to make it. While you may miss out on certain vantage points should you avoid the steeper climbs, this also allows for more time spent simply relaxing at certain resting points and admiring the views which extend for hundreds of kilometres in every direction.

The same is true of traveller budgets, with the ability to do the walk on a relative shoestring, or indulge in the luxury afforded by the Cradle Mountain Huts that come with the benefits of knowledgeable guides and enjoyable meals. No matter the choice, everyone who walks the Overland Track comes away with their own unique experience or personal highlight, and it's an adventure that will stick in your mind for years to come.

All of the Great Walks on this list encapsulate a certain essence of what it means to experience “Australia”, however few provide the combination of peaks, valleys, accessibility and outright stunning environments than Tasmania's Overland Track. “Bucket list item” might be a cliché thrown around slightly too much in travel literature, but there's few better ways to describe this epic journey – Australia's most memorable adventure to be had on two feet.

Click for: Larapinta Trail, NT | Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, TAS | Fraser Island, QLD | Cape to Cape Track, WA | Snowy Mountains, NSW | Flinders Ranges, SA | Twelve Apostles, VIC | Freycinet, TAS | Blue Mountains, NSW | Overland Track, TAS

To book one of these epic hiking journeys for yourself and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, be sure to visit our dedicated walking and hiking section for bookings.

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