Tasmania by foot – Part One (28/12/2013 – 29/12/2013)

New Years Eve is always the biggest disappointment of the year. Such a hyped up event you plan ages in advance for and everyone has this great ideal that it has to meet. Needless to say, you always fall short of that mark. For years I’ve been proposing a New Years Eve, with a few close friends, up a mountain, in a tent. Well, thanks to Michael agreeing, we ended up in Tasmania to do the Overland Track and to go for an explore and see where else we could end up hiking.

I took about 10 days worth of photos all up. The weather was so shocking my SLR stayed safely stowed away in it’s dry-bag most of the time, so all of these photos are a mix from my Canon 60D (with the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8), my Panasonic Lumix Ft-2 (waterproof point and shoot) and my new phone, the LG G2 (the camera is pretty good on it).

We decided to start the Overland Track early in a morning, so we bucked the norm, and caught a bus in to the National Park the day before the hike (most people bus in and start after lunch on the same day). We stayed in a caravan park near the entrance, which gave us a few hours to explore.

After packing a small day pack, we headed down to Dove Lake on the National Park shuttle to explore. It was windy, cloudy and a bit chilly.

Cradle Mountain is back there. Hidden in the clouds. No surprise really, it seemed to be that way a lot. We kept an eye on the weather and walked around to Glacier Rock, then turned around the massive group of tourists and back up around to Wombat Pool.

The sky went cloudy, then clear, then cloudy, then rainy, then clear. It couldn’t make up it’s mind.

We started climbing up the ridge to where we would be on the actual Overland Track the next day, but decided to head back and pick up our passes so we could start before the rest of the plebs. This is a view of Wombat Pool and Dove Lake on the way to Marion’s Lookout.

I even took the cliche shot of the boat house that you see on most Cradle Mountain tourist crap.

There was the promise of a lot of wildlife on the trip. Apart from the usual stuff we get up in Queensland, I wanted to see an echidna, Michael a wombat and both of us a platypus. Well, as we walked up to the backpackers, this cute little bugger was sitting on the side of the road, right in front of the visitor centre. He really didn’t mind being the centre of attention at all!

After a sleep, our last shower and flushing toilets, we hit the road at about 8 am. The weather forecast was for snow, rain, strong winds, sun, clouds, well… everything. And yes, we got everything. The track started on some beautiful board walk. I’d guess about 50% of the track is actually like this, it’s good for the environment and good for you. It stops track wear in the mud (as we saw a few days in) and you get to walk a bit quicker and more comfortably and enjoy the view a bit more. Don’t complain when you pay the fee to hike, it goes towards great infrastructure like this.

Mere seconds after I took this photo of Michael, it started pissing down with a really strong wind. Pretty much every time the weather cleared enough to get my camera out, it started raining within seconds. Not much of a window to take photos.

We passed Crater Lake and got a bit higher above Wombat Pool/Dove Lake, near where we went the day before. The rain and wind was freezing me, and I’m glad I bought gloves and thermals a few weeks earlier (despite me thinking it was a joke and I wouldn’t need them).

We got up to Marion’s Lookout and it felt like nothing, despite my 20kg+ pack and a few hundred metres of elevation rise. And then we hit our first encounter with snow.

Good view back to the start of the Overland Track though.

At this point the wind picked up even stronger and we hiked across a very exposed ridge to the base of the Cradle Mountain summit side-trip, with an old hut there known as Kitchen Hut. Cradle Mountain was not visible at all, despite being on our doorstep.

We huddled in, cooked a hot lunch and waited to see what the weather would do, so we could attempt to summit the mountain. There was a lot of vandalism in the hut. While reading it, I could see that many, many, many, many others had ridden out weather here, especially snow storms.

I opened the door to see if we could start the summit and this happened:

After the weather went the opposite way of clearing (more wind, more snow, more sleet) and we couldn’t even see the start of the Cradle Mountain summit track, we decided to rug up and keep trooping along to the first hut.

I wasn’t happy, not at all. I really, really hate snow. Since moving from America 10 years ago, I’ve seen it 3 times: always in the Southern Hemisphere and always in Summer (Peru, New Zealand and now Tasmania).

The rest of the holiday continues in parts two, three and four but here are the gallery of photos for part one:

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  2. […] rest of the holiday continues in parts one, two and four but here are the gallery of photos for part three: #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } […]

  3. […] had no idea what he was getting himself in to. Having only been to Tasmania once before on another buddy hiking trip, I probably over-prepared for the Three Capes Track. It included a lot more luxuries in the cabins […]

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