What is the Overland Track?
The Overland Track is one of Australia’s iconic ‘must-do’ long-distance bushwalks. It’s a 65 km, six-day trek through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, part of the magnificent Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The walk starts at Ronny Creek in Cradle Valley, beside the renowned Cradle Mountain. Over the next six days, you will journey through a landscape of spectacular glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, fragrant eucalypt forest, golden buttongrass moorlands and beautiful alpine meadows. Extra bonuses include a variety of side-trips to breathtaking waterfalls and mountain summits, including Mt Ossa (1617 m) – Tasmania’s highest peak. To top it off, the walk concludes at Australia’s deepest lake – Lake St Clair.
Most walkers finish their walk at Narcissus Hut at the head of Lake St Clair. Here they board a ferry which takes them to the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay. Some walkers, however, choose to walk around the lake through the rainforest, which extends the walk a further 17.5 km and requires another day.
While six days is the average time taken to walk the track, you can create your own pace, depending on how many rest days or side-trips you wish to enjoy.
What are my walk options?
You can walk the Overland Track as:
- an independent walker, using the public huts and campsites
- a member of a large group (13 max) e.g. a school, community or commercial group, camping at the public group tent platforms
- a member of a commercial group (Cradle Mountain Huts) staying in private huts.
Why do I need to book my walk?
A booking system operates during the peak walking season, between 1 October and 31 May, which regulates the number of walkers departing each day. During this time, a fee is payable and walkers must walk from north to south. This avoids overcrowding, preserves the wilderness experience for everyone, reduces our environmental impact, and ensures the sustainable management of the track, the huts and other infrastructure.
To ensure you have the flexibility to create your own itinerary as you walk, the booking system manages departures only – you cannot book hut bunks or tent sites.
Why is there a fee to walk the track?
Maintaining a long-distance walking track with facilities in a remote alpine World Heritage Area is expensive. Your fee contributes to track work, hut maintenance, toilets, signage, interpretation and staffing. With no road access, most servicing of the track and its facilities occurs by helicopter.
Do I also have to pay a Park Entry Fee?
Park Entry Fees also apply to all Overland Track walkers. This fee is separate to the Overland Track fee.
How do I get to the start of the track?
The following bus companies offer transport to and from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre:
- Tassielink - Ph: 1300 300 520
- McDermotts Coaches - Ph: (03)) 6330 3717
- Saintys Coaches - Ph: (03) 6334 6456
- Tiger Wilderness Bushwalkers Bus - Ph: 0428 308 813
- Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences: Ph: (03) 6261 4971 or 1300 882 293
- Outdoor Recreational Transport: Ph: (03) 6391 8249
- Adventure Seekers: Ph: 0400 882 742
Some transport companies also offer transport for your excess luggage. Contact the companies for information. The Parks and Wildlife Service is unable to provide storage.
What if I have my own vehicle?
You may leave your car at Lake St Clair and book the bus service to Cradle Mountain. This will give more flexibility in your walking time. (Note: Bus services to Cradle Mountain from Lake St Clair do not occur every day.) If leaving your car at Lake St Clair, you will need two copies of your Parks Pass – one to display on your car and one to show to staff when checking in at Cradle Mountain. Please collect a duplicate Parks Pass from the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre.
How do I get back to my vehicle if I have left it at Cradle Mountain?
The best option is to book transport with a bus company as listed above, or as listed on our Parks website. Services between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair can be very limited.
How many people are allowed to depart each day?
A maximum of 60 walkers can depart each day from Cradle Mountain. This includes 34 independent walkers, 13 group members booked to use the group site facilities (eg schools), and 13 with the commercial tour company (Cradle Mountain Huts) who have private accommodation huts.
Walkers can spend as many days as they like on the track, which sometimes results in a varying number of people at each overnight point.
What if I have to cancel my booking or change my departure date?
There is a 25% cancellation fee on the Overland Track pass (i.e. you will be refunded 75% of your fee). There is no refund if you cancel within 14 days of departure. However, if you can prove unavoidable circumstances (e.g. medical condition, with certificate), a full refund will be given to the certificate holder. Your departure date may be changed providing it is done prior to your booked departure date, and providing that there is availability on the day you wish to change to.
Should I take out travel insurance?
Some walkers choose to take out travel insurance to guard against costs involved with the cancellation or delay of your trip. You will need to organise this yourself.
Where do I collect my Overland Track pass?
Your pass must be collected from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre is open from 8am to 5pm during the peak season.
It is a good idea to book one night’s accommodation and start walking the day after you arrive at Cradle Mountain to ensure you get an early start on the track and have a comfortable day’s walk. For accommodation options, go to www.discovertasmania.com.au
Where do I collect my National Park pass?
If you purchased a Park Pass through the Overland Track booking system, there are eight places it can be redeemed. Simply take a copy of your booking receipt to one of the following visitor centres: Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair, Freycinet, Mt Field, Huonville Park Shop, Hastings Caves, Maria Island or Narawntapu.
Please see the Park Passes web page for more details.
What map/guidebook should I take with me?
Two products are essential for your walk:
- Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair Map and Notes - 1:100 000 (TASMAP)
- Visitor Guide: ‘The Overland Track: One walk, many journeys’ published by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. This booklet contains daily walk notes, 3D maps, and detailed interpretive notes on the geology, flora, fauna and history of the track.
What type of accommodation is provided on the track?
Along the route, six overnight nodes accommodate walkers (Waterfall Valley, Windermere, Pelion, Kia Ora, Windy Ridge and Narcissus). Each overnight node has basic facilities:
- Huts – bunks (no mattresses), tables and chairs, heating. No lighting or cooking facilities
- Tent Platforms (platforms protect the vegetation; extendable wires and nails provide attachment points for your tent)
- Toilets (composting toilets – all waste is flown out by helicopter)
- Rainwater Tanks
Can I walk just a section of the Overland Track?
Yes. A number of day and overnight walks are available from Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain. Some of these include sections of the Overland Track. Please phone (03) 6233 6047 or check with the Cradle Mountain or Lake St Clair Visitor Centres for further information.
What happens if the weather gets very bad – do we have to keep walking because it is a one-way track during the peak season – or can we turn back?
If severe weather or injury forces your return, of course you may do so. The booking system manages departures only, so there is no pressure to keep on walking if injury, ill-preparedness, or severe weather forces your return. Your safety is most important. Most well-prepared, experienced walkers can put up with quite severe weather on the track. It is frequent for walkers to experience ‘all seasons in one day’. You are walking through an alpine region, with rain, hail, sleet and snow possible at any time of the year. Preparation and fitness is critical.
If I intend to sleep in the huts, do I need to bring a tent?
Yes. Hut spaces are not guaranteed. If the huts are full, you will need a tent. Your tent also provides you with an emergency shelter in case injury or severe weather prevents you from reaching a hut.
What about drinking water?
Each hut has a rainwater tank. You can also collect water from deep lakes or flowing streams. Of course, the water within our national parks is not treated. You may prefer to boil water for 3 minutes, or use iodine tablets or a water filter.
Can I hire equipment?
The only equipment the Parks and Wildlife Service hire are Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Other camping equipment may be hired at bushwalking/camping shops in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. Some backpacker hostels can also assist with organising equipment.
What do I do on arrival at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre?
1. Show your Overland Track booking receipt to collect your Overland Track pass and your Park entry pass if you paid for one at the time of booking. Otherwise, you will need to purchase a Park entry pass here too.
2. Visitor Reception Officers may be able to help you check you’re carrying all the right gear before you depart.
3. Board the Shuttle Bus and travel to Ronny Creek.
4. Sign in at the Walker Registration booth at Ronny Creek.
5. Start walking!