The Overland Track - Day 1

Starting with a 6.40am bus pickup from our accommodation in Launceston, my group of intrepid adventurers are on their way to the Overland Track. Leading from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, the Overland Track is Tasmania’s famous 6 day hike through world heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park.

After a quick stop at the Sheffield bakery for our final non-dehydrated meal (a bacon & egg roll washed down with the world’s worst coffee) it's on to the visitor centre. Here we pick up our Overland Track passes and get a safety briefing. Yes, you need passes (and a prior booking) to hike this track due to the sheer popularity and limited hut space on the track. The safety briefing is also necessary as it is an alpine area and people often attempt popular tracks like this without adequate preparation, equipment and knowledge.

After the official sign in, it’s off to the start point at Ronny Creek where we have the all important pack weigh in and the obligatory pre-hike photo op. Let the records show;
  • Naomi: 12.2kg
  • Nick: 13.5kg
  • David: 16.0kg
  • Matt: 17.9kg

The track starts with a section of boardwalk which is used to protect the natural environment from the swarm of visitors who come through here. It’s on this boardwalk we come across our first casualty: a lone thong (the rubber footwear kind). It seems one unlucky hiker ahead of us is now missing their left thong… not a great start to their day!

After a short walk we reach crater lake and start the climb up from there. We’ve heard from friends who have done the track that day 1 and 3 are the most challenging and we can now see why!

This initial climb up is quite strenuous and includes some sections which are more like rock climbing… while wearing hiking packs. Thankfully the top of this section rewards us with a spectacular view of Dove Lake from Marion’s Lookout.

We keep on climbing and reach the side track to Cradle Mountain, the rocky outcrop above Dove Lake for which this National Park is named. We drop our packs at the junction and start the steep incline up the mountain, which quickly changes from walking to rock scrambling and even some almost legitimate climbing towards the top.

It is extremely windy up here, but nothing overshadows the incredible view and sense of achievement for our first summit of the Overland Track. We cheers our beers & ciders to the first of many successes to be had over the next 6 days and head back down, collect our packs, and start the descent into Waterfall Valley.

Upon reaching the Waterfall Valley hut, we set up our beds on the wooden bunks and boil the billy for a cup of tea. It’s been a great first day and my legs, surprisingly, don’t hurt a bit. We do some yoga stretches on the helipad next to the hut, re-hydrate the chilli con carne for dinner then head for bed, ready for day 2 tomorrow.