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What is the Overland Track?
The Overland Track is Australia’s premier alpine walk. It’s a 65km, 6-7 day trek into 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. During your journey you will experience 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 (167m).
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 add a day by walking the Lakeside Track from Narcissus to Cynthia Bay, making it a total distance of 80km. While six days is the average time taken to walk the track, you can create your own itinerary, 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
Is the Overland Track suitable for young children?
All children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Most children love the Overland Track experience, but it’s very important they are physically and mentally able to cope, and are well-equipped, or it might ruin their love of bushwalking for life! How young is too young? As a general guide, we don’t recommend the track for children under 8. However, the answer depends on the ability and experience of the adult(s) taking the child, the child’s ability/previous experience, and the time of year and likely weather (although it varies wildly at all times of year). Children are more susceptible than adults to fatigue, hypothermia and heat exhaustion. If you do decide to walk with children (of any age) it’s essential that they have the right clothing and that their parents/guardians are confident bushwalkers, familiar with the particular challenges of walking in the Tasmanian alpine environment. Many high school groups walk the Overland Track for Outdoor Education.
Why do I need to book my walk?
A booking system operates during the peak walking season (1 October to 31 May inclusive) to regulate 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 environmental impact, and ensures the sustainable management of the track, 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 (National Parks Pass)?
Park Entry Fees (National Parks Passes) also apply to all Overland Track walkers. This fee is separate to the Overland Track Fee. See National Parks Passes
How do I get to the start of the track?
Private Vehicles: See Access
Public Transport: Several bus companies offer transport to and from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. See Transport and Accommodation
If I have my own vehicle, where do I leave it while I walk the track?
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. Bus services to Cradle Mountain from Lake St Clair do not occur every day. See Transport and Accommodation
. If leaving your car at Lake St Clair, you will need two copies of your National Parks Pass – one to display on your car and one to show to staff when checking in at Cradle Mountain. Please collect a duplicate National 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 (see Transport and Accommodation
). Services between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair can be very limited.
How many people are allowed to depart on the Overland Track 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 tent platform facilities (e.g. schools and community groups), and 13 with the commercial tour company (Cradle Mountain Huts) who are accommodated in private huts. Independent 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.
Can I cancel my booking?
Yes, penalties may apply. Refer 4. Terms and Conditions
Can I change my departure date?
Yes, subject to availability. Refer 3. Terms and Conditions
Should I take out travel insurance?
Highly recommended. Refer 7. Terms and Conditions
Should I spend the night before I start the walk in nearby accommodation?
To ensure an early start on the track for a comfortable first day’s walk, many walkers book their previous night’s accommodation in the Cradle Valley area. For accommodation options, go to Transport and Accommodation
What map/visitor guide book should I take with me?
We strongly recommend the following:
- Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair Map and Notes - 1:100 000 published by TASMAP. (Purchase while booking your walk, or from the Parks online shop, or the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.)
- “Overland Track Visitor Guide - One Walk, Many Journeys” (published by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service). This booklet contains daily walk notes, pictorial maps, and detailed interpretive notes on the geology, flora, fauna and history of the track. (Purchase while booking your walk, or from the Parks online shop, or the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.)
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 bench seats, heating. No lighting or cooking facilities
- Tent Platforms (platforms protect the vegetation; extendable wires and nails provide attachment points for your tent; bring short lengths of cord to help tie off if needed)
- Toilets (composting toilets – all waste is flown out by helicopter)
- Rainwater Tanks
Refer Huts and Camping for more information.
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. Refer Huts and Camping
for further information.
Can I walk just a section of the Overland Track?
Conditional. Refer to the Overland Track Usage Guidelines
for further information.
If the weather is severe, do we have to keep walking because it is a one-way track during the booking season, or can we turn back?
You can turn back if severe weather (or injury) forces you to do so. The booking system manages departures only, so there is no pressure to independent walkers 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.
What about drinking water?
Each main hut has a rainwater tank. Fill your bottles each morning. If you need to collect water between huts, deep lakes and flowing creeks and rivers are safest. However the quality cannot be guaranteed, so you may prefer to boil water for 3 minutes, or use iodine tablets or a water filter.
Before arriving at Cradle Mountain, make sure your water bottles are filled as there is no rainwater tank at the Visitor Centre or Ronny Creek (you can purchase bottled water from the Visitor Centre shop). The first rainwater tank is at Waterfall Valley Hut. On your first day’s walk, avoid collecting water in the day walk area (between Ronny Creek and Kitchen Hut) due to the volume of walkers using this area and subsequent higher risk of potential water contamination.
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.
Where and when do I collect my National Parks Pass?
If you purchased a National Park Pass through the Overland Track booking system, you can collect it from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. If you are travelling elsewhere in Tasmania before you walk the track, you can collect your pass from any of the major national park visitor centres, Tasmanian Visitor Information Centres, the Spirit of Tasmania, and Service Tasmania shops state-wide. See National Parks Passes
for further information.
What is the process on arrival at Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre (How do I collect my pass etc?)
1. Go to the Overland Track visitor services counter and present your tax invoice booking receipt and Overland Track Walker Safety Checklist to receive your Overland Track Pass. Visitor Centre hours are 8.30am-4.30pm daily. You must collect your pass by 2pm on the day of departure (or the day before departure after 3pm. For the months of April and May, passes must be collected by 1pm.
2. Ask staff any final questions.
3. Board the Shuttle Bus outside the Visitor Centre to travel to the departure point at Ronny Creek. (Buses depart regularly during the booking season.)
4. Sign in at the Walker Registration booth at Ronny Creek.
5. Take a photo at the departure point - and start walking! It is a 4-6 hour walk to the first hut at Waterfall Valley – longer if you like to stop and take lots of photos.