A reader’s story about trekking through Tasmania

Reader’s Story – Going Overland

AT Reader Sharon Murphy from Bacchus Marsh in Victoria takes a life-changing trek through the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness.

T asmania’s Overland Track is 76km of waterfalls, rainforest, peaks, blisters, soggy socks and aching muscles. Its beauty and magnificence will stay with you a lifetime. From Cradle Mountain to Lake St Claire, the six-day walk will take you through snow and sunshine, traverse moors, forests, gorges and unrelenting peaks.

Travelling with two guides and nine new friends, we set off from Waldheim Chalet. The climb to Marion’s Lookout is also popular with day-trippers so the track is quite busy. Leaving the crowds behind, we walk around the Cirque, the base of Cradle Mountain, and into Waterfall Valley. Water gushes to greet us as we descend to the valley floor.

Our feet complain as we climb out again. With drinks in hand and stretched out on a grassy verge, we watch the sunset over Mt Oakleigh. Pink hues drift across the rock as a full moon rises.

After crossing the button grass plains we delve into the rainforest. With rain falling for some hours now the track has become a muddy squelch-fest. With dainty rainforest blooms of native iris and orchids to guide our way we burst on to Frog Flats. While we have difficulty finding the said inhabitants, we can certainly hear their joyous song as the rain continues to fall. We begin to climb up again – or, in the words of my illustrious guide, “an anti-downward trend is ahead of us.”

From the ridge of Forth Valley we inhale the wondrous scent of the Lemonthyme Forests before crossing Pelion Plains, then make the decision to attempt Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak. We climb as far as Doris Plateau then watch in awe as the weather visibly changes before us. Clouds of black roll in. Thunder shatters the silence of the bush. Rain, then sleet, comes at us horizontally. It takes us another two hours to reach shelter and arrive at the simple hut, wet and muddy but exhilarated. With respect for the elements we silently watch as the storm passes over Cathedral Mountain.

Proving yet again that local knowledge can be invaluable, our guides lead us off the track a few paces through the scrub to a glorious swimming hole on the Mersey River. With the sun shining down today we stretch out on warm rocks and look for bunyips in the clouds. The very brave among us swim in the freezing river water.

By our last day we’re strolling along with revitalised bodies and minds. Through eucalypt forests, past lumbering echidnas and over gentle hills we arrive finally at Narcissus Bay on Lake St Claire.

Our celebratory swim leaves us breathless, as do our backward glances when the boat ferries us across the lake to Cynthia Bay and the bus back to our “real” lives.

Winding our way back to Launceston I smile inwardly, thinking of the currawongs, frogs and black cockatoos, of the stunning yellow Tasmanian Waratah, the King Billy Pines and the edible scoparia. I think of the blisters and aches, the new friends and sense of accomplishment and I know that the “track”, quintessentially Australian, will stay with me forever.

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