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When Is The Best Time To Walk The Overland Track?

Warwick Sprawson is our guest blogger. He is the author of  Overland Track which is available for purchase in our bookshop. Here, he asks the question – “When is the best time to walk the Overland Track?”

The ‘best’ season for hiking Tasmania’s Overland Track is as personal as your scroggin mix. Some thrive on the cold and solitude of winter, others on the long days and bustling huts of summer. Each season has its pros and cons.

Summer
Summer is the most popular season to walk the track. Many wildflowers are in bloom, carpeting the plains in vivid colours. The days are long, providing more daylight hours in which to tackle the track’s interesting side routes – trails off the route’s main spine. The average maximum temperature is a relatively warm 16.3°C, with temperatures in the 30s not uncommon. Summer also has the least rain, about as half as much as winter.

Your best chance of a view is in Summer. View from Barn Bluff
Your best chance of a view is in Summer. View from Barn Bluff

The downside of hiking in summer is that the huts and campsites are often busy, although the booking system – which runs from 1 October to 31 May – ensures the track is never overrun. If you want to hike in summer make a reservation early; the track is often fully booked from December to late January. In peak season you have to walk the track from north to south (Cradle Valley to Lake St Clair).

Inside Kia Ora hut. Huts can get crowded in Summer
Inside Kia Ora hut. Huts can get crowded in Summer

Autumn
Autumn on the Overland is under-rated. Hikers can enjoy the spectacular golds and reds of the deciduous beech trees, usually at their best around Anzac Day. Apart from the Easter period, the track is less crowded than summer, and there can still be fairly good weather, especially in March. The first significant snow often falls in May (but snow can fall anytime on the Overland, even during the height of summer).

sign at Kia Ora Creek, April
sign at Kia Ora Creek, April
Deciduous beech
Deciduous beech
Autumn. Late afternoon near Pine Forest Moor
Autumn. Late afternoon near Pine Forest Moor

One of the best things about autumn hiking is the variety of fungi. You’ll see a huge range of shapes and sizes, the bright reds, oranges and yellows lighting up the dim rainforest.

Fungi near D'Alton falls
Fungi near D’Alton falls
Autumn fungi
Autumn fungi

Winter
Winter on the Overland is only for the hardcore. It snows frequently enough that the route can be hard to discern, especially in white-out conditions. Taking snow-shoes is advisable. The days get dark by 5pm, so there is less time to do sidetrips. Overnight temperatures can be as low as minus 9°C. Winter also has the most rain, making the track even wetter and muddier than usual.

Climbing the Acroppolis in snow. They had to turn back.
Climbing the Acroppolis in snow. They had to turn back.

On the other hand, in winter it’s likely that you’ll have the huts along the track to yourself, and be reasonably snug thanks to the coal or gas heater. You also have the freedom to walk the track in either direction and don’t have to pay the $200 Overland Track booking fee which is required during peak season. Winter also provides the occasional crisp, clear day which reveals the full majesty of the snowy landscape.

Spring
September and October are usually the windiest months, with the conditions becoming more stable in November.

Tasmanian Waratah
Tasmanian Waratah

Some flowers, such as the Tasmanian waratah, begin to flower in late spring. In September you can walk the track in either direction and save yourself the booking fee.

As you can see, every season has its advantages and disadvantages. So what’s your favourite season to hike? Why?

Warwick Sprawson’s Overland Track guide is available from the OSP bookshop for $19.95. The full-colour guidebook includes track notes, maps, flora, fauna, history and geology.

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Point Perpendicular and Sapphire Coast.

As they say – ‘Best laid plans’…..
I’m not going to go into too much detail. Just a bullet point of events. Nevertheless, apart from one really foul day, I had a good time. But also needless to say…..I will be needing to head back. I have a few unticked boxes on my trip list.

PLANNED EASTER JAUNT

  • Overnight drive to Point Perpendicular
  • Cruisy camping at Currarong Holiday Park
  • 3 days climbing at the Point
  • Drive back to Melbourne

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • Overnight drive to Point Perpendicular
  • Cruisy camping at Currarong Holiday Park
  • 1st day climbing at the Point. Fab!
  • Early morning wake up with Gastro bug along with all attached symptoms. In tent bed until 4.30 pm next day.
  • Overnight rain flooded campsite and tent. All bedding wet. All clothes packed wet. Only dry item – bathers!
  • Rained continuously all the next morning. Road into Point Perp closed for the rest of the week.
  • Cut losses and decide to leave early taking 2 days to drive back along the Sapphire Coast to Melbourne.
  • Lovely weather and drive. Fish and Chips on the Eden pier.
  • Arrive Melbourne

A few nice pics of the trip. Some pretty speccy coastline along the way.

View on our first day of climbing at the Point
View on our first day of climbing at the Point

 

Narooma and it's 'Picasso' blocks. That's what they looked like to me anyway.
Narooma and it’s ‘Picasso’ blocks. That’s what they looked like to me anyway.

 

It's a fence. At Tilba Tilba. But  a very nice, hand built fence.
It’s a fence. At Tilba Tilba. But a very nice, hand built fence.

 

Bermagui
Bermagui

 

Fish and chips and boat watching at Snug Cove, Eden
Fish and chips and boat watching at Snug Cove, Eden

 

Lots of scope to be arty with your pier photography. Snug Cove
Lots of scope to be arty with your pier photography. Snug Cove

 

No-one told me there was a party. Oh...they're not balloons.
No-one told me there was a party. Oh…they’re not balloons.