Tough Girl does Tasmania's Overland Track

Cicerone quizzes Tough Girl Sarah Williams as she prepares to walk Tasmania’s Overland Track

Have you ever been to Tasmania before?

Never! I am so excited about heading over to Tassie. I’ve heard amazing things about the walking and the stunning national parks and the variety of nature and wildlife. I’m excited to have this opportunity to explore and to share the experience with people.

Mt Oakleigh view
The view from near the top of Mt Oakleigh (Photo: Warwick Sprawson)

What made you decide to do the Overland Track?

My brother and his family live in Melbourne and for the past few years I’ve been heading over for a few months during their summertime. I normally stay for around two months. I don’t want to overstay my welcome so it’s always good if I can disappear off for a few weeks and go and have an adventure at the same time.

February is the perfect time for me to do something new and exciting. I don’t want to travel too far and when I saw that Cicerone has a new guidebook coming out the same month about the Overland Track, and that it is a great month to hike, it just seemed perfect; it is too good an opportunity to miss.

I think it will be a beautiful hike, and very different from the Camino Portugués hike I did in September 2019 (you can watch the vlogs on the Tough Girl YouTube channel).

How long will it take you?

I am aiming for it to take around eight days in total, as that is the most amount of time the food I can carry will last!

What are the conditions like on the trail at the moment?

The trail is 80km long and is well maintained. It has been marked as a grade 4 (see panel).

One key thing to be aware of his how quickly the weather can change while you are out there. There is nowhere to resupply on the way, so you need to be fully self-sufficient.

During the summer months they also limit the number of people out on the trial to 36 per day, which helps with overcrowding. The summer months are the best months to walk the trail, but the conditions can change, which is why you need to make sure you are up to date with the weather and what is happening, especially in relation to fires.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited about just getting away again and getting back out into nature on a thru-hike. I really enjoy having deep thinking time and the opportunity to relax. It will also be fun to be camping again and getting to explore a new part of the world.

Camping platform
Camping platform near Kia Ora Hut (Photo: Warwick Sprawson)

What are you most nervous about?

I’m a little nervous about the first day, as that is when my pack will be at its heaviest and when I go up Cradle Mountain – one of the biggest climbs. But at the same time, I’m also buzzing with excitement! I know the views will be worth it once I’m at the top.

Cradle Mountain
The distinctive profile of Cradle Mountain with Dove Lake in the foreground (Photo: Warwick Sprawson)

Will you be doing any of the suggested side trips?

Yes! I’m really excited about doing all of them. But that’s not going to be possible on this trip. I haven’t fully decided, and it will depend on the weather conditions at the time, but top of my list is Mt Ossa, which is the highest mountain in Tasmania. Followed closely by the dolerite columns of Mt Oakleigh and Lake St Clair.

If anyone reading this done the hike before, what side trip would you recommend?

Tassie local Martin suggests the following side trips: Hartnett falls and the other two falls if time permits. My Ossa is a must if weather is good. Old Pelion hut and waterhole for a summer swim.

How might the fires affect you?

That’s such a great question. I’m not 100% sure at the moment as things can change so quickly. There have been fires over there and the other concern is the smoke and haze heading over from the mainland. I’m aware of the situation and will be keeping an eye on what’s happening.

Will you be able to cook using a campfire or will you take gas?

Neither, I will be stoveless. I don’t do cooking! I have also been advised that fires are always totally prohibited in this national park year round.

Narcissus Hut
Narcissus Hut. The huts along the Overland are basic but functional. (Photo: Warwick Sprawson)

What might you encounter along the route and have you prepared anything for protection against animals?

Leeches! I’ve been warned about the leeches and have been told not to go swimming in any of the lakes, but to also make sure I have a lighter with me, so that if any of them do decide to come and get me I will be able to burn their bottoms to get them off!

* I have recently been told that swimming is fine, seeing as leeches can't swim!

Will you get mobile signal on the route?

I really hope so. I have just bought an Australian SIM card so I will be able to share the journey as it happens via social media. So make sure you come and follow along on Instagram. My handle is @toughgirlchallenges or you can follow #ChallengewithCicerone.

Grade 4: Recommended for experienced bush walkers. A grade 4 track is likely to be longer and include rough ground and very steep sections. These tracks are suggested for people with experience bush walking. They may be any length and directional signs and markers are likely to be more limited. A reasonable level of fitness and unrestricted movement will be required.

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