Track - Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park
22nd Jan 2010
may have different opinions but this is the way I saw things. I
genuinely liked everyone on the walk and had many long and
interesting discussions with everyone. Anything I say about
anyone is purely in fun. Some information and photos I got from
others on the walk. I may have enhanced some of the information I
gathered. Anything that is blatantly incorrect please let me
know. All photos referenced have been converted to a smaller size
for faster downloading.
organised the whole trip and he is to be commended for his
1. Dove Lake to Waterfall Valley. Climbed Cradle Mountain as a
side trip. Camped in tents on grass.
Day 2. Waterfall Valley
to Lake Windermere. Camped in tents on wooden platform.
3. Lake Windermere to Pelion Plans. Stayed in Hut.
Pelion Plans to Du Cane Hut. Climbed Mount Ossa as a side trip.
Stayed in tents.
Day 5. Du Cane to Windy Ridge. Visited
Hartnett Falls as a side trip. Stayed in Bert Nichols Hut.
6. Windy Ridge to Narcissus Bay. Camped in tents on grass.
7. Narcissus Bay to Echo Point. Camped in tents on sandy beach
beside Lake St Clair.
Day 8. Echo Point to Cynthia Bay.
plus about 8km for side trips to Cradle
Ossa and Hartnett Falls.
had a few surprises for us. First he carried an Australian flag
on his pack all day. I did not see it until late in the day when
someone pointed it out. Second, he gave Australian
serviettes to everyone in the Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge
where we were staying. Third, we had pancakes for dessert. Graeme
cooked the first round and then Noel took over. The smoke from
Noel's efforts set off the smoke alarm in the hut. Everybody had
three rounds of pancakes and there was one left. We gave it to a
girl who was hiking with her father and their Au-Pair. We
also sang Advance Australia Fair.
Cold Was It
Katrina thought it was cold one night. She
told me she had on 2 pairs of thermals, her coat, the hat of the
coat over her head, a face mask and the sleeping bag zipped as
far as it could go. That might have been the first night we
camped when it started drizzling and the wind was howling most of
the night. I got up to the toilet and nearly froze but I only had
my jocks on.
was told water was not a problem and I also read this on the
Tasmanian Parks website and in the Overland Track Bible
("Overland Track" by John & Monica Chapman). Don't
need to carry more than 1 litre they said because you pass many
streams and lakes. As it turned out all this was true but I was a
little worried once. We did a side trip to Mount Ossa. It was
very warm and if I had not been able to get water from a small
soak about halfway up and a lake
at the top I would have been in trouble. Passed one lady
walking up Mount Ossa who was not carrying any water.
we got to the Du Cane Hut camping area the stream near the old
hut was dry. Luckily, Graeme found a stream another few hundred
meters further along the track. We took all our bottles and
bladders there and filled them up.
I suggest that walkers
carry a full 2 litre bladder and another empty bladder as spare
(which some in our group did).
There are signs
on all the hut tanks recommending that water be boiled or
treated but none of us bothered. Neither did the ranger at
Narcissus who told me she drinks water direct from the tank at
Apparently Gastro has been a problem for some
walkers. I suspect toilets could be part of the problem and
everyone should carry and use small bottles of hand sanitiser.
Pirates Are Coming
This is what Barbara said every time
she heard Natasha coming behind. Natasha used hiking poles and
they made a clicking noise touching the rocks on the track.
Barbara said it sounded like pirate cutlasses.
Some of the wildlife are pests as we
discovered. During the night whilst camped at Windermere Lake, a
possum scratched a hole in the side of Jason and Natasha's tent
and dragged some scroggin out. Jason heard the noise and went
outside to investigate and discovered the possum eating the
scroggin. They repaired the tent with duct tape. They also used
their duct tape to temporarily repair someone's shoes. I heard
later that they took the shoes to a ranger and he repaired them.
Apparently, rangers have extensive repair facilities in their
There were other instances of possums checking us out
for food but no more forced entries,
We left our packs
behind when we climbed Mount Ossa. When we got back some Ravens
had undone a zip on someone's pack and pulled out the scroggin.
They then picked out the their preferred delicacies. We were told
to keep food inside the tent and huts and this is what we
Mosquitoes were noticed at most camps but were the
worst at Du Cane. March flies were also noticed at most camps but
were the worst at Echo Point.
Rats were heard at Narcissus
Hut and we were told there is a large black rat at Echo Point
I saw three snakes. One small one scurried across the
track. Another large one was waiting beside the track and we were
lucky to see his head before we passed. The last snake was
blocking the track up to the toilet at Echo Point. Natasha saw it
first and wanted to know if it was a plastic one.
evenings the wildlife would emerge to check you out. Most were
looking for food. There are signs up everywhere advising you to
not feed the wildlife.
the top of Mount Ossa. We could not have picked a better day to
climb Mount Ossa. You could see for over 50km, 360 Deg. Could
even see Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair. Views from Cradle
mountain were also very good.
is very patriotic as evidenced by his antics on Australia
Peter ate a whole tin of plum pudding on our last
I hope you don't get bored reading these notes. I am
probably too philosophical.
Noel can cook.
Jason is a
good clapper. We observed him clapping for about half an hour at
Echo Point. Initially, we thought he was chanting but he was
actually killing march flies.
Natasha is not her real
Liana did not reveal any secrets.
surprised us by bounding over the rocks at Cradle Mountain and
Mount Ossa. She revealed later that she does rock climbing as a
Barbara lives in the wrong suburb of Melbourne.
When we arrived at Waterfall Valley Hut we were
met by a couple who said they were volunteer rangers. They
volunteer their services for a 10 day period to look after the
huts and attend to walkers needs. Noel requested a cappuccino to
be delivered to his hut at a certain time but it never arrived. I
did see them wandering around talking to campers and cleaning the
The real rangers can be useful sometimes. Near
Narcissus, there is a suspension bridge and when I walked over it
I got the ranger who was working on it to video me as I crossed
first night was a worry because the wind howled and there was
light drizzle. As I lay in the tent listening to this I was
thinking that this is good start to our trip. However, the next
day it cleared early. We only had a few drops one other day and
the last morning about one hour of light drizzle. Graeme, who has
walked the track many times, commented that this is the least
rain he has ever experienced.
Katrina's. It was exceptionally loud. We had three
fuel stoves and all were used most nights. We carried nine
bottles of fuel, one each. I believe we had about two full
bottles left at the end of the trip.
got injured the most. Blisters on my feet and I hit my forehead
rather hard on an overhanging log. Luckily I had a sweat band and
a hat on otherwise I would have drawn blood. Out of nine in our
party only three did not have any blisters (that they would admit
too). Graeme injured his arm climbing up to Marion's lookout. We
put a bandage on it.
We heard about a young guy who twisted
his foot in Pine Valley and was rescued by a Police helicopter.
Pelion Hut to Du Cane Hut. The side trip to Mount Ossa combined
with a warm day made it difficult. I was stuffed by the time we
got to Du Cane Hut.
Although she did not do all the side walks we did and was a
little slower than us she made it to the end.
Did Not Need Any Money
I did not open my wallet for a
whole week. Now that is unusual.
think we can all take credit for that as each of us cooked at
some point on the walk. Those that did not cook washed up. Graeme
did make the porridge every morning and also prepared delicious
cheesecakes on two occasions.
The morning he made porridge
in the Bert Nichols hut there was a little left over. I was going
to throw it out but a young guy in another group yelled out to me
that he would have it. It turned out that this guy was the one
who twisted his ankle in Pine Valley (see earlier)
We Did Not Do
Walk into Pine Valley which was the
original plan. At Du Cane, Graeme asked us if we still wanted to
walk into Pine Valley. We were all a bit stuffed that day and the
consensus was to not go into Pine Valley. I probably had the
biggest influence on that decision because I was the most
purchased all the food and we each carried an equal portion of
about 5kg. He did an excellent job and we had a wide selection to
For breakfast we had porridge or muesli.
lunch we had dry biscuits with a variety of toppings including
cheese, vegemite, jam, peanut butter etc. On the last day we had
a gourmet lunch consisting of Gnocchi, Mushrooms, Couscous, Dutch
Curry, Cheese, Tuna and Chicken.
For dinner we had the
following on various days - Gnocchi, Beef Stroganoff, Bombay
Potatoes, Jaipur Vegetables, Pasta, Tuna, Chicken, Honey Soy
Chicken, Roast Lamb, Beef & Pasta Hot Pot, Rice, Mashed
Potato, Peas, Corn. For dessert had Apple, Pears, Apricots,
Custard, Cheesecake, Plum Pudding, Jelly. Some evenings we laid
out a selection on the table and picked out the best as this
Even after all this excellent food Natasha
could not resist hamburgers as soon as we arrived at Cynthia
Don't know what food was left at the end of the trip
but we did have a lot of empty food containers to carry out.
the sandy beach at Echo Point. See this
in our group pointed out that my shirt was on inside out.
Another day I discovered that I had it on back the front. Ah
well, dressing in a tents is awkward at the best of times.
Noel carry our tent for the last 1km on the day I was
the new Pelion Hut I went to the toilet in the middle of the
night. When I got back and tried to open the door to get back
into the dormitory I couldn't. The guy sleeping on a bunk near
the door had his feet sticking out blocking the door. A gentle
push did not move him but a harder one did. I don't think he
even remembered it.
causing huge amounts of smoke whilst cooking pancakes in the
kitchen of the Bert Nichols hut at Windy Ridge. He set off the
smoke alarm so we moved him to another area with no smoke alarm.
photo of him holding the smoke generating pan outside the
Some of us on the Telstra NextG network got
reception at the top of Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa and were
able to make phone calls. Others with 3 and Optus got nothing so
we let them use our phones.
Did In The Evenings
UNO one evening in the hut at Windermere Lake. Other times we
soaked up the views from Pelion Plains Hut or Bert Nichols Hut.
Some long days meant that we were still cooking or cleaning up
very late. Most evenings we were in bed by 9.00. At Du Cane, the
mosquitoes forced us into the tents.
Liana and Katrina plunged into the water in the pool above
Hartnett Falls. It was very cold they informed us.
Point, the above three and Natasha had a swim in Lake St Clair.
photo of a few of us sitting on the jetty at Echo Point.
was difficult to have a good body wash on the walk and swimming
does refresh you.
At the Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge
some of us did some clothes washing. There is an internal drying
room there which was put to good use.
two newer huts on the track are the new Bert Nichols hut at Windy
Point and the new Pelion Plains Hut. We stayed in both. They all
had heaters but they don't want you to use them as this
photo at Bert Nichols Hut shows. The sign mentions coal but
is out of date as they now use wood. The huts at Waterfall Valley
and Pelion Plains have gas heaters.
The Bert Nichols Hut had
sheet stuck on the wall in the kitchen raving about its
innovative design features. There was a viewing platform beside
the hut with great views of Mount Geryon and The Acropolis.
Overall it was a good hut except for couple of things I noticed.
was amused by the fact that the hut had an internal smoke alarm
and yet the underneath of the hut was jammed
with firewood. Firewood underneath or beside a building is a
big no no.
sleeping area was very noisy. Some other walkers arose very
early and the wire grates in the corridor and self closing doors
made a lot of noise.
was a long walk to the toilet. The boardwalk wound its way
around the back of the hut. The route could have been shortened.
new Pelion Plains hut was not noisy and the toilet was closer. It
also had a
veranda all the way around. The views
to Dean Bluff (particularly near sunset) whilst sitting on
the veranda were lovely.
You Really Walk The Overland Track
people don't walk the track around Lake St Clair which is part of
the Overland track. They stop at Narcissus and catch the boat
back to Cynthia Bay. One young Dutch girl I spoke to at Narcissus
told me she had done enough walking. When I mentioned that the
Overland Track does not actually finish at Narcissus but at
Cynthia Bay she did not seem particularly interested.
The guy at Pelion Hut who was boasting
that he got onto the Overland Track via a route where he did not
have to pay any Park fees.
few kilometres before Windermere Lake, Barbara forgot to pick up
a small bag she put down whilst taking a photo. Luckily, she
remembered where she left it and when two of us went back to get
it we found it easily. Prior to this we had asked other walkers
who passed through if they had seen it. Nobody had and when we
found it we could see why. It was located on the side of a step
in a dark area. Barbara showed her appreciation at the visitor
centre at Cynthia Bay when she shouted us drinks and chips. See
the Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge. See this
Things You See
man with a young child in a baby carrier on his back near the
top of Mount Ossa.
young guy wearing a kilt. Also saw him at a shop at Derwent
Bridge (still had his kilt on).
guy and his young son having a cup of tea near the top of Mount
toilet facilities along the track were excellent except at Du
Cane Hut. Du Cane Hut had a hole in the ground with a wooden
top and cover. You signalled that the toilet was engaged by
a flag located beside the track to the toilet from one
location to another.
The other toilets were all composting
toilets and very salubrious inside. See this
photo of a typical toilet. The ones at Echo Point and
Waterfall Valley were large enough to sleep inside (why would you
do this?). The liquid is drained through the solids into a
holding tank whilst the solids decompose. The liquid is
periodically pumped (by the Ranger) into large sealed fibreglass
containers and taken away by helicopter which is a very
You may you think I am obsessed by
toilets but Noel insisted on getting this
did not know these existed until Graeme mentioned them and then I
noticed a few hidden in the scrub and they are shown on maps. I
found out a lot more about them at the Bert Nichols Hut at Windy
Ridge. There was one of these huts behind the Bert Nichols Hut
which we went and had a look at. Also, at the Bert Nichols Hut
two guys arrived late and one of them was a guide for the private
huts. I questioned him at length on how it all works and he was
very informative. Basically, these huts provide 5 star
accommodation in the wilderness. People staying there still have
to walk in and out (but with minimal packs) and obtain chef
prepared gourmet meals, showers and proper beds. A proportion of
fees collected is paid to the Park management. See
like to take photos of signs (with me in it). I could see that
the others were getting a bit bored with this but towards the end
they were actually finding signs for me. Close to Cynthia Bay the
signs became a bit flash so I didn't bother with these. Here
is the collection of sign photos. Ironically, when we did the
photo everyone insisted that the sign be included even though
you cannot read it. Maybe my sign paranoia rubbed off.
Narcissus Point, Graeme prepared two cheesecakes which he placed
in the cold water near the edge of the lake. They were to be left
there for a few hours to set. After dinner, we all had our
tastebuds ready for them but when he went down to collect them
one was missing! At first we thought someone had stolen it but an
extensive search found it floating down the lake about 50 meters
away. It was still intact and was easily recovered.
Liana had walked further down to the jetty looking for the
cheesecake. She asked some campers there if they had seen it and
they must have felt sorry for her because they gave her another
one. This was our cheesecake for the next night. This time Graeme
placed them inside a small stream flowing into the lake so they
could not float away. See this
Barbara. She likes talking to people. You tend
to see the same people along the track and everyone got to know
her and that she was with our group. We even had people reporting
to us where she was.
Much Did We Carry
estimate that some of us were carrying up to 25kg extra if you
take into account tents, fuel, water and hiking boots.
I Liked About The Overland
the best in Australia and one of the best in the world. You meet
and talk with many people on the track. In particular, lots of
walkers from overseas. All those I spoke to were extremely
impressed. The strict controls, environmental considerations,
variable weather, excellent facilities, variety of terrain,
wildlife and many other factors all make for a great walk.
I Did Not About The Overland
did not like people using it as a racetrack. We saw a lot of
them. Jogging with a small daypack, they attempt to run all the
way. Apparently, the record is 7hr 21Mins. These people are not
in the least bit interested in the scenery, wildlife or anything
else, just how quickly they can get from one point to another.
The Overland Track is a wilderness walk and allowing people to do
these kinds of activities degrades it. It should be stopped.
did not see or hear any, but scenic helicopter flights over
Cradle Mountain as far Lake Will are available. If you are
walking in the wilderness soaking in the atmosphere of the
pristine environment there is nothing more annoying than the "Wop
Wop" of a helicopter flying overhead. I can accept
helicopters performing a rescue or other important mission but
not for tourists to fly over. It is just not possible to
appreciate the Overland Track and its sights by flying over it
and it annoys people who are appreciating it the real way. It
should be stopped.
I reserve judgement about private huts.
It seems they fit in with the environment and don't detract from
the philosophies of the Overland Track. The problem is that the
management of the Park is expensive and private huts (and scenic
helicopter flights) help defray these costs and sometimes the
Park management are pressured into accepting more from these
people than they should and thus giving them some preferences.
If the things mentioned above degenerate in the
future and protests are necessary then I volunteer to run naked
on top of Mount Ossa with an appropriate sign across my privates.
Noel wanted someone to run naked at the top of Mount Ossa. He
said it was some sort of tradition. Nobody volunteered at the
time but he never fully explained the tradition and there was
nothing to protest about.
everyone on the walk. It was a real adventure and it was my first