Take on the challenge of Australia’s most famous trek – the Cradle Mountain Overland track – and enjoy Tasmania’s most stunning scenery. With two expert mountain guides at your side, you’ll make your way through temperate rainforest and groves of eucalypts, across alpine moors and through valleys, skirt the edges of bright blue lakes, and take in views of waterfalls and towering peaks in the distance. Camp on the edges of historic huts under star-filled skies, wake up to dramatic landscapes, and tackle side trips like summitting Cradle Mountain and the island’s highest peak Mt Ossa. This active adventure is one of the best ways to discover this iconic trek and landscape.
Day 1: Launceston - Ronny Creek - Waterfall Valley
Welcome to one of Australia’s greatest walks! Your adventure begins with a pickup at 7:00 am. The tour makes its way west from Launceston, through the picturesque scenery, to start your walk at Ronny Creek in Cradle Valley. Cross a small grassy plain, passing Crater Creek, Crater Lake, and make your way up to Marion’s Lookout for sweeping views, from where you can see the iconic Cradle Mountain and the curved Dove Lake.
The track continues past the historic Kitchen Hut, with its unusual double story design, and you’ll traverse the shoulder of Cradle Mountain surrounded by Tasmanian snow gums. Over 700 million years ago the ground beneath your feet was shaped by glaciers grinding through the landscape. Continue on to the Cradle Cirque, passing the turnoff to Barn Bluff, and descending into Waterfall Valley where you will camp for the night.
Today’s walk is approximately 10 kilometres, 4-5 hours. If weather and time allow, there is also the opportunity to summit Cradle Mountain today.
Day 2: Waterfall Valley - Lake Windermere
Above Waterfall Valley is Barn Bluff, which juts out of the landscape in a distinctive cone-shaped peak. This morning you’ll have the opportunity to climb the bluff if the conditions are right, continuing on to Lake Windermere in the afternoon. Waterfall Valley is, unsurprisingly enough, full of beautiful cascades, and you’ll pass them as the track undulates across moorlands scattered with pencil pines, myrtles, and snow gums.
Look out for Tasmanian Devils, echidnas, and wombats – though you may see the latter’s distinctive cube-shaped poop more often than the mammals themselves. As you crest the moorland you’ll get a view across Lake Windermere, whose dark colour is caused by nutrients and oils leaking from the surrounding grass into the water. Make your way around the shore of the lake to tonight’s campsite, nestled in a scattered forest.
Today’s walk is approximately 8 kilometres, 3-4 hours, not including the optional side trip to climb the bluff.
Day 3: Lake Windermere - Pelion Hut
You’ve worked your way up to the longest walk of the trip today! Begin with a walk through the lightly timbered forest and across buttongrass moorlands to the lookout at Forth Gorge. In the distance, the peaks of mounts Oakleigh, Ossa, Pelion East and West, as well as the Du Cane Range, pepper the horizon. Follow some small ascents and descents into the forest glade of Frog Flats, a wet section of forest crossed by the River Forth that’s home to some beautifully coloured mosses and fungi.
Climb through forest to Pelion Plains, where the Forth Valley Track diverts off to Old Pelion Hut, which was built by copper miners at the very end of the 19th century. For the next 20 or so years, cattle drovers and trappers plied their trade here, before the area was declared a scenic reserve in 1922. Continue along the shore of Douglas Creek to New Pelion Hut, the largest of the track’s huts, which sits at the junction of the Overland and Arm River tracks.
Today’s walk is approximately 17 kilometres, 6-7 hours.
Day 4: Pelion Gap - Kia Ora Hut
Begin today with a gradual climb up to Pelion Gap (1126 m). Here the track hits a crossroads with Mt Pelion to the east and to the west towering Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak at 1617 metres. If the weather’s right, there will be the option to climb either of the peaks today. Both summits boast amazing views of the national park and beyond its boundaries, and are well worth the extra effort. From the Pelion Gap crossroads, the track passes through the glaciated Pinestone Valley and on to Kia Ora Hut, which sits on a creek of the same name and is nestled below the Ducane Range and Cathedral Mountain on the opposite side.
Today’s walk is approximately 9 kilometres, 4 hours. Allow 3-4 additional hours for the Mt Ossa or Mt Pelion East side trip.
Day 5: Kia Ora Hut - Du Cane Gap - Windy Ridge Hut
Leave Kia Ora Hut and make your way through myrtle beech rainforest to Du Cane Hut, build in 1910 out of King Billy Pine by a trapper as a base for his trade. Further down the track, you will take a side trip to see the falls of D’Alton, Fergusson, and Hartnett, which tumble into the Mersey River in spectacular fashion, especially after recent rainfall. Back on the main track, the path climbs steadily to Du Cane Gap (1070 m), where Mt Geryon and the Acropolis (1471 m) of the Du Cane Range are the peaks that dominate the views. From here, the track descends through the eucalypt forest to Windy Ridge Hut, the newest hut on the track and your spot to share stories on the final night of the trip.
Today’s walk is approximately 10 kilometres, 5 hours.
Day 6: Windy Ridge Hut - Narcissus River - Launceston
Welcome to the final day of your overland track adventure! Leaving Windy Ridge Hut, descend with the track down the valley of temperate rainforest and eucalypt forest to the Narcissus River. Pass the path which splits off to take walkers to the base of the Du Cane Range and Pine Valley Hut, the base for access to the Acropolis and the Labyrinth.
Follow the track down to a suspension bridge over the Narcissus River and the end is in sight – Lake St Clair and the finish of the Overland Track. Give yourself a huge pat on the back and your legs a rest with a ferry ride across the lake to Cynthia Bay. Jump back in the van for the ride back to Launceston, where your trip comes to an end, arriving around 6 pm this evening.
Today’s walk is approximately 10 kilometres, 4 hours.