6-day Overland Track itinerary
The Cradle Mountain Huts six-day walk is a fabulous journey within Tasmania's World Heritage Area. Following the famous Overland Track, the walk extends from Cradle Valley to Lake St Clair through a variety of spectacular landscapes.
Day One - Waldheim to Barn Bluff Hut (12km; 7 hrs)
Cradle Mountain Huts guests meet at our walkers' base at Quamby Estate at 7:15am for a 7.20am sharp briefing. For our guests staying in Launceston, the shuttle bus pick-up is from The Sebel Launceston. Please be ready in front of The Sebel at 6:40am, for a 6:45am sharp departure. (Information about recommended accommodation options can be found in our FAQs).
After a gear check and introductions, we journey to Waldheim in Cradle Valley. We then set off on the track at approximately 11am. By lunchtime, we have walked through our first section of ancient temperate rainforest and witnessed the dramatic glacially-carved Crater Lake. The steepest section of the whole Overland Track is now behind us. The steep section is mostly stepped and takes us about an hour. It gets us onto Marion's Lookout which, (hopefully) offers famous and spectacular views of Cradle Mountain with Dove Lake at its base - worth every step.
If the weather is fine we stop for lunch by the peaceful Plateau Creek before continuing for about another 4 hours around the base of Cradle Mountain, out along the edge of a spectacular glacial cirque then dropping into Waterfall Valley which we cross before arriving at our hut at the base of the towering Barn Bluff. Several hours of this day’s walk is over exposed alpine plateau which allows great views on a clear day but in rough weather the wind howls over the land making for exciting and sometimes challenging walking conditions.
Day Two - Barn Bluff Hut to Pine Forest Moor Hut (12km; 6 hrs)
The walking today is undulating with a few sections of exposed moorland. There are no large hills and the once notoriously muddy Pine Forest Moor is now a duckboard path over the mud! We also offer an additional side trip to Lake Will. We travel across plains where glaciers once sat and slowly moved, scouring out shallow tarns. Now there are plains of button grass with ancient pencil pines sitting with their roots in the water. Rising from the moors, the peaks of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff are behind us to the north, and the stately Mt Pelion West directly ahead.
Day Three - Pine Forest Moor Hut to Pelion Plains Hut (10km; 5 hrs)
Today, we begin with a long, slow descent around the base of Mt Pelion West, down to the Forth River before it plunges into the Lemonthyme Valley. After a break at Frog Flats by the Forth River, we have a long, gentle ascent out of the valley onto the beautiful Pelion Plains, with outstanding views of Mt Oakleigh. There are many side trips in the Pelion Plains area, with mountains all around, excellent swimming holes, abandoned copper mines, as well as simply peaceful and humbling spots for taking a quiet rest.
Day Four - Pelion Plains Hut to Kia Ora Hut (7km; 3.5 hrs - additional 5 hrs for optional Mt Ossa side trip)
W begin today with a climb to Pelion Gap, where there are great views both back to the north and forward to the south. Today, we allow extra time for the side trips from Pelion Gap. It's a further few hours of gentle downhill from the gap to the hut, so it is a very relaxing day with the option to make it more challenging.
Day Five - Kia Ora Hut to Windy Ridge Hut (9km; 4 hrs)
This is a day of waterfalls and majestic forests. We depart Kia Ora hut and walk about an hour to Du Cane, where a hut remains from the long-gone days of animal trapping. Du Cane Hut is a fine spot to rest, with the native gardens planted by trapper Paddy Hartnett's wife, during her long stints in the bush with her husband. From there, we wander through some of the oldest forest in the national park, with King Billy pines as much as 2000 years old. Now, we are above the Mersey River, which descends deeply northward towards the Bass Strait. There are three major sets of waterfalls, and we aim to visit one or more of these. We will likely take lunch along with us to enjoy beside one of the falls. During the afternoon, we make our way over Du Cane Gap, then descend beside the spectacular Falling Mountain to Windy Ridge Hut.
Day Six - Windy Ridge Hut to Lake St Clair (9km; 3 hrs)
Lake St Clair is Australia's deepest natural lake and, as with most of this area, has been shaped by glaciers. The walk is mainly through cool temperate eucalypt forest, and birdsong is all around. We arrive at Narcissus at the northern end of Lake St Clair in time for lunch, before boarding the Idaclair cruise boat for a spectacular 17km cruise back to Cynthia Bay. We usually have about half an hour to look around the visitors' centre at Cynthia Bay. The return trip to Quamby Estate is through the trout fishing mecca of the highland lakes, descending the rugged Western Tiers to the broad plains of the Northern Midlands, and passing through the rural townships of Cressy and Longford.