Classic Trek: The Overland Track, Australia

Australia is a country with plenty of remote backcountry and an abundance of good hiking trails as well. It is an adventure travelers paradise, with opportunities to backpack your way through unique environments that include deserts, mountains, rain forests, and more. Perhaps the most famous of all of the Aussie trails is the Overland Track, located in the southern most state of Tasmania.

The 40 mile long Overland Track runs from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair, and is well known for its pristine beauty. Generally speaking, it takes roughly five to six days to complete the trek, which is mostly over moderately difficult terrain that can vary greatly in nature. In addition to the usual path, there are a number of extensions for those looking for a longer experience, including a loop around the lake and another that runs to the summit of Cradle Mountain.

While the Track can be hiked in either direction, most choose to go North to South, as it allows hikers to pass through the region with the most volatile weather first, and make no mistake, the weather can be volatile on the Overland. Because of its southerly location, backpackers will have to deal with consistently high winds, as well as regular, and often heavy rainfall. Winter hikers will have to face the potential for heavy snow as well.
But those that brave the weather are treated to amazing scenery that was carved by retreating glaciers during the last ice age. The results are sharply contoured mountains, rock gorges, and plenty of thick rain forest surrounding the trail. This mixture of alpine and jungle trekking helps to give the Overland Track a unique feel, although it is regularly compared to the Milford Track in New Zealand, which is also a well known trek.

Aside from the scenery, there is plenty of very unique wildlife to be spotted along the way too. Trekkers often spot large lizards, wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and even platypus along the way.

A series of trekking huts can be found at regular intervals along the route, offering those hiking the trail a place to sleep and escape the elements. The huts are unattended, and visitors can stay in them free of charge, although they are open on a first-come, first-served basis. They do tend to fill up quickly and because of this, trekkers are encouraged to bring tents with them just in case there is no room at the inn when they arrive.

The best time to walk the Overland is from December to May, as the weather is a bit more mild and consistent. Roughly 8000-9000 visitors hike its length each year, which means that it is mostly uncrowded, even during the high season. No matter when you come however, be sure to bring plenty of gear for all weather conditonis, as it can change quickly and can even be potentially dangerous.

As if you needed one more reason to visit Australia, add the Overland Track to your list of great treks of the world and then take the adventure for yourself. You’ll be rewarded with an experience that you won’t soon forget.

Update: It has been brought to our attention that there is a new system in place that requires anyone hiking the Overland Track between November 1 and April 30 to book their trek in advance and pay a facility fee before they set out on the trail. For more information on these requirements and the Overland in general, click here.