Trek & Travels Top Tassie Tips & Tricks
With the borders just reopened to our favourite island state we’ve asked the Trek & Travel brains trust to discuss their favourite Tassie spots and the gear they simply couldn't live without.
All the reviews and information below is on the assumption that you’re hiking as an independent hiker.
Classic Tassie trekker look - sturdy boots, canvas pack, buff covering a weeks worth of unwashed hair, short shorts over multi coloured striped leggings and gaiters. It's a fashion-police free zone here at Dixons Kingdom Hut, Walls of Jerusalem.
Flynn H’s Tips on Frenchman’s Cap
Frenchmans cap is a well facilitated 3-4 day 45km return hike in Tassie’s wild west coast. The track traverses a variety of landscapes from low grasslands and rainforest to classic Tasmanian rocky ridgelines overlooking crater lakes below. On a clear morning the view from the summit is exceptional. The new hut nestled above Lake Tahune is world class in design and amenities. So if you are game, fit and start early I recommend skipping the first hut at Lake Vera, as that hut is in marshy lowlands filled with mosquitoes and flies. In winter the Lake Vera hut would be nice, but in the other seasons it might be worth passing. Worth noting is the 4.5km between Lake Vera and Lake Tahune involves some long and steep scrambling over wet rocks and muddy roots. All of which you must come back down through on the return which was supposed to be my least favorite part of this hike going into it, ‘was’ being the operative word here. Turns out the hot grassy plains were my least favourite, why? Because I used hiking poles for the first time on this trip. Uphill and downhill sections were much easier physically and noticeably less taxing on my knees, legs and back, even on the flat I noticed I walked faster and felt lighter. A sturdy set of poles make a huge difference to your hiking experience.
Flynn recommends a good set of hiking poles like the Black Diamond Trail Poles for the climb up and to protect your knees on the long descent back to the car park.
John tips on the Overland Track
The Jewel in Tasmania’s hiking crown, the Overland Track traverses some of Australia’s most stunningly iconic landscapes. The 65km track takes walkers from the slopes of Cradle Mountain to the shores of Lake St Clair in around 5-6 days. Track infrastructure is second to none with a series of cosy huts to rest your head in each night, camping platforms, a well maintained trail (including sections of boardwalk) and a largely waymarked route. Due to its popularity the walk is managed by the Tasmanian parks department meaning numbers are limited and a permit is needed to walk the trail from October to June. Sold on a first come first served basis, permits are not cheap at $200 per person but considering the facilities you enjoy and the environment it goes towards protecting it is a very worthwhile investment.
The track is moderately challenging in its simplest form with the first days climb up to Marion's Lookout at 1223m being the toughest test for many. The beauty of the Overland comes down to the side trips and the ability to tailor your itinerary to your fitness/ interests making for an entirely bespoke adventure. In an ideal world you would summit Cradle Mountain on day one, scramble up the craggy slopes of Barns Bluff on day two and summit Mount Ossa (Tasmanians highest mountain) on day four! My personal favourite side trip was Mount Oakleigh from Pelion Hut with a scramble up forested slopes and rock hopping at the summit revealing amazing views of Cradle Mountain to the north. As with many of the side trips the route is much less obvious and waymarked than the main trail with only beer cans in the trees marking the way in some places!
As with hiking in most of Tasmania a certain level of preparedness and appropriate gear is needed for this trail considering the unpredictable alpine conditions you may encounter. We hiked in mid November 2017 and spent our first day slogging through waist deep snow in a complete whiteout. It made for a super exciting day but we were glad we had packed for all seasons! A key piece of gear that I would not walk the trail without were gaiters. Not only did they keep the snow and mud out of my boots but they gave me the confidence to stride through the button grass without fear of a serpentine nibble!
Speaking of nibbles you will encounter much of Tasmania's weird and wonderful wildlife on the trail and much of it will want to interact with you with cuddly wombats munching at the track edge and curious Pademelons hopping around the huts. Some of these furry and feathered friends can be a bit pesky with numerous tales of hungry possums and mice chewing through tents and bags to get sugary treats! To avoid an annoying repair bill and chocolate shortage it is best practice to hang all food stuff and toiletries up in the huts when possible. Similarly when leaving packs at places like Pelion Gap to do side trips ensure they are zipped shut and covered with your rain cover to avoid the ingenious Black Currawongs picking your pockets!
The Overland Track is a trip to be savoured and if you have extra time I would head up to Pine Valley Hut for a few nights to play in the glorious Labyrinth and tackle the Acropolis. The time we spent at Pine Valley turned out to be my favourite part of the entire trip with few people, a nice characterful little hut and adventure at every turn. It is also worthwhile spending a night at Narcissus Hut on the shore of Lake St Clair as we were lucky enough to sit on the jetty at sunset watching platypus foraging in the shallows! Most people end their Overland adventure with the ferry trip over Lake St Clair to Cynthia Bay but if you don’t want it to end you can walk the extra 17.5km along the lake shore and finish under your own steam!
John recommends - Clothing for all seasons! A good hat and sun shirt to keep the piercing tassie sun from burning sensitive skin. Layers for warmth, the Atom LT Hoody is a staff favourite. Icebreaker Thermals are a must, it's known to snow and blizzard even in the middle of summer! Be prepared for the wet with a jacket like like the Outdoor research Microgravity Jacket to be prepared for anything!
Now this is a camp spot! One of the many fantastic tent platforms along the Overland track. From Kia Ora looking onto Cathedral Mountain
Flynn A’s Tips on The Walls of Jerusalem
Already done the Overland and looking for another adventure? The WOJ is worth a look, It is situated just to the east of Cradle Mountain national park and on a clear day you can see the peaks of Cradle in the distance. It is one of the more spectacular national parks through Tassie with its glacial terrain, tarns covering the landscape and beautiful peaks to discover. Unlike Cradle there is only road access to the edge of the park at Mersey Forest road and there are very few formal campsites within the park making it a truly wild and pristine experience. As with all Tassie hikes be prepared for bad weather as it can change at the drop of a hat.
Most walkers spend 3-4 days in the park, A great plan is doing a 3 day in and out Wild Dog creek campground using the middle day to explore further into the park. From Wild Dog the trail winds up into the park in between King David Peak, the Temple, and many others all of which you can add on as side trips. If you want to add a bit more adventure you can do The Walls of Jerusalem Circuit (35kms) but it does add some off track bush whacking and route finding.
The WOJs alpine landscape lends itself to having slow growing flora and as such we need to be respectful and careful. A couple of things to know, campfires are banned in the park as fire is one of the largest threats to the delicate alpine flora. Please also avoid walking on the cushion plants, they are absolutely stunning but are very delicate and walking on them can kill them.
My number one gear recommendation especially if you’re going in summer would be some insect repellent, the numerous lakes and tarns make a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of annoying bitey buggers. Due to the lack of infrastructure you will be taking water from the land and as such will need to filter or sterilize the water, for this I’d recommend Sawyers Micro Squeeze.
Sunrise on Mount Jerusalem
Jemima’s tips on the Three Capes Track
As a born & raised Taswegian I’ve had more than my fair share of Tassies great wilderness experiences. Then The Three Capes Track was opened a few years ago and was the answer to all our prayers. It gave hikers a chance to see the best of Tassies coastal wilderness without the hassle and pain of having to carry everything and the kitchen sink. Tassie really took a good hard look across the sea to our lovely neighbours in NZ when they designed this track.
The three capes track is a 4 day/3 night walk covering 48kms in the far southeast of Tasmania, starting at the historic site Port Arthur the experience takes you through cliffs, rainforests, beaches and classic Tassie bush between Cape Raoul, Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy. The trail is beautifully maintained. The huts are world class!
What you’ll definitely need -
Your own bedding, a sleeping bag and pillow, that's it really. Leave the tent and sleeping mat at home (phew I can feel my pack getting lighter already!) . You’ll sleep each night in a newly built hut each hut has two bunk beds with comfy mattresses. Keep in mind if its peak season you may be sharing sleeping quarters with others so take your ear plugs too. Jemima recommends - One Planet Bungle -4, Sea to Summit Aeros UL pillow & Lifeventure ear plugs for the best beauty sleep
When the main communal hut is set up with lights and a heater you will need a torch to find your way to the bathroom and to get around your own hut (which does not have any lights) the Black Diamond Spot is a great option
Speaking of the main hut. Oh boy what a treat that is! Equipped with a usb charging point, the kitchens are great, stocked up with pots/pans to use on the gas stoves. The first hut even has a BBQ if you want to cook up a steak the first night. You will have to bring all your own eating utensils; plate/bowl/cutlery/mug etc. Jemima recommends - sea to summit delta solo set its got everything!
You’ll also need to bring food for the 4 days and 3 nights. Keep in mind that you carry our everything you carry in so don’t bring wine in a glass bottle for example. Don’t miss out on the wine though, just decant it into a soft Platypreserve. Once drunk (once the wine is ‘drunken’, I mean) the bottle is flat and easy to carry out. Dehydrated food is the easiest to carry, cook & consume and the packaging is easy to carry out too. Looking for dinner options? Click here to check out Jemima’s food review.
Another tip, take a small day pack that packs up super small. You’ll have a chance to dump your bag on one of the days in a locked up shed to walk out to Cape Pillar with just your essentials; warm jacket, rain jacket, lunch and water. You’ll need a small pack like the sea to summit nano pack to take this stuff with you.
The Three Capes Track is a great track for anyone wanting to branch out as an independent multi-day trekker not yet ready to leap into carrying the whole hiking kit, or even the most hard core trekker wanting a little touch of luxury.
The Three Capes Track - Cliffs a’plenty!
Give me more adventure - For the more adventurous there's the South Coast Track, Western Arthurs, Federation peak, and so much more!
Come instore for more inspiration.
See you on the trail!