Day 1 – Cradle Mountain – Waterfall Valley
You have the option of starting either at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, Ronny Creek or Dove Lake. The last two you can access via the free shuttle which leaves roughly every half hour from the visitor centre (this is free as it’s included in your parks pass). Many people opt to stay at Cradle Mountain for a night prior to starting. We only started hiking after midday, so in order to make it to the Waterfall Valley Hut before sundown, chose to take the shuttle shortcut to Dove Lake. From here, Cradle Mountain towers over the famously photographed lake. We did not see said mountain thanks to the clouds but it was still a beautiful walk around the lakes and to our first destination for the night.
There are 2 huts you can stay in here. There’s the new hut and the old one. The former was certainly more inviting with its gas heater and cozy atmosphere but on this first night, there were more people than we expecting, and looking for a little bit of tranquillity, we opted for the latter. There was no heater so it was very cold but the hut was quaint and quiet. Even if you opt for the new hut, definitely wander on down to the old one in order to enjoy the two gorgeous waterfalls just outside which obviously, is where the name came from. You might also be greeted by one of the many wombats which call this place home!
Day 2 – Waterfall Valley – Pelion Hut
Today was the day to feel enchanted and re-energised. Walking through the magical myrtle forests is like a scene out of Lord of the Rings. It was also a long day; a whole 26.6km of up and down walking and also the day my boots started taking on water…
Day 3 – Pelion Hut – Kia Ora Hut via Mt Ossa
While my new gortex lined boots held up well for the first 2 days, by day 3 I just came to accept that they were going to get soaked through. This didn’t stop me from trying to jump over the mud puddles but that was more to keep me entertained than anything. Steering too far off the path to avoid the puddles and mud is futile and only results in damaging more of the natural landscape. Stick to the path and suck it up.
If I thought yesterday was a big day, then I didn’t know what today had in stall. On a whim, we decided to summit Mt Ossa despite feeling uncertain about the weather conditions. But as we scaled, the visibility was never so threatening we felt the need to turn back. Even though while at the top our views were still shrouded by clouds, I did have fun poking into the frozen pond and sloshing around in remnants of snow. Upon our descent, we were graciously rewarded with stunning views across the valley. By this point, my knees were starting to ache. And by ache, I mean screaming out to me and cursing me for this torture. I cringed, then looked up at the views, smiled and walked on.
Day 4 – Kia Ora Hut – Pine Valley Hut via D’Alton & Fergusson Falls
Snow!!! I can’t even begin to express how excited we were when the snow greeted us as we gained elevation. Not too much that it made life on the track more complicated than it needed to be, but just enough to add a wintery wonderland feel to the day. The waterfall side trails were only 1km and 1.5km respectively, which is worth it if you want to witness the sheer force of mother nature. Pine Valley was another awe-inspiring treat which I say, should not be missed. Beware, it’s easy to get lost in the forest so do not try and leave it too late in the day. The forest is already dark enough without the help of the dimming day.
Day 5 – Pine Valley Hut – Narcissus Hut
We received a dumping of rain overnight which meant we had to wade our way across an overflowing river. The water had flooded over a section of boardwalk which was nearly knee height in depth. I can see how these things can get nasty real quick. All hope of dry shoes that night had been lost. It provided us a good laugh though and thankfully, today was our shortest walking day. We were able to rug up at Narcissus hut and enjoy an afternoon of cards and hot beverages.
Day 6 – Narcissus Hut – Cynthia Bay Visitor Centre via Lake St Clair
While many people prefer to take the ferry across the lake from here, my hard-headed mates and I weren’t having any of it. We opted to walk the extra 17.9kms, thinking the trail would be a gentle stroll in the park after what we had already been through. Oh, how we were wrong. The undulating path was muddier, wetter and more tiring than all of it put together. The fact we had already walked over 80kms by this point may have contributed to these feelings but hey, I wouldn’t change it for the world now that I’ve done it! And it made that delicious flat white and pastry at the end of it taste all the better.
- Sleeping Bag & Mat
- Warm puffer jacket/clothing for the evenings
- Good quality rain gear
- Water bottle (rain water available at each hut however you may wish to treat this. Your call. I didn’t)
- Waterproof pack liners (keep your gear dry!)
- Good quality trekking pack (the average weight of gear a hiker carries on this track is around 15-16kgs and you’re carrying this for multiple days – it gets hard at times! You need a pack that can distribute the weight so you aren’t burdening your shoulders).
- Sturdy hiking boots (lightweight & quick drying boots are actually pretty handy)
- Self sufficient cooking equipment (no campfires allowed)
- Food!! (we subsisted mainly off daal, rice & dehydrated veggies, jerky, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, porridge, and Aeropress coffee! Some people can get pretty fancy with their meals. I kid you not when I say, there were 2 girls who brought 2kgs of cheese and about 2-3kgs of trail mix on top of everything else. Bless them for sharing though! It’s up to you how much weight you want to carry…)
- Socks – I recommend 3 pairs (1 for night time & 2 to switch between for walking)
- First aid kit (for me strapping tape became a godsend thanks to fellow hikers)
- Head torch
- Toilet paper & hand sanitiser
- Beanie & gloves
- Toothpaste & toothbrush
- Baby wipes (I mean, only if you want some feeling of freshness after a gruelling day’s walk)
- Playing cards/book to read/something to entertain you of a night
- Flips flops (makes the nightly toilet run easier so you don’t have to put wet boots back on)
- Zip lock bags (for putting your rubbish in)
- Battery pack (for charging phone/camera)
The Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service have more recommendations about what to expect and pack, but I hope it’s been helpful reading my experience. If you’ve got any questions, then feel free ask below!