Traveller stories: Walking the Overland Track

Ever wondered what it's like to walk the Overland Track? The Overland Track is no doubt one of Australia's finest walks, and will take you through spectacular waterfalls, dolerite mountains, lakes, tarns and diverse ecosystems in pristine Tasmanian wilderness World Heritage areas.

Michele and her husband Glenn recently completed the walk as part of their six-month adventure travelling the world. We asked Michele about the highlights of her trip, what inspired her to do the Overland Track and tips for others completing the track. She also shared some of her beautiful photos!

Glenn and Michele on The Overland TrackGlenn and Michele on the Overland Track

What made you decide to walk the Overland Track?

My husband and I were in the middle of an amazing six-month round-the-world type trip – but something was missing. We were looking for an opportunity to get out into nature in a more intimate way. A visit to Tasmania was part of our travel itinerary, so I started doing some online research and found the Tasmanian Expeditions’ Overland Track trip. It was exactly what we needed.

The hike promised to be challenging, we’d be on the trail for several days (6 days, 5 nights), all of the camping and backpacking gear was provided, and the logistics (food, transport to/from the trail) were taken care of. Perfect!

Walking towards the iconic Cradle Mountain

What kind of training did you do leading up to the walk?

I used to weigh nearly 140 kilos (over 300 pounds) and could barely walk up a flight of stairs. A few years ago my husband and I started focusing on getting healthy, including adding more physical activity into our daily lives. I’ve lost 59 kilos (130 pounds) since then and my life has been transformed.

Hiking the Overland Track is a physical feat that was once on my “I’ll never be able to do that” list and moved to the “I’ll give that a try” list. I didn’t do anything specific to train for the walk other than maintaining my current level of physical fitness through daily activities such as walking, biking and running. I’m not a fast hiker, but I can generally go the distance. Part of the fun of something like the Overland Track was putting my body to the test and being amazed at what I could accomplish (like reaching the summit of Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa).

The view of Barn Bluff from out campsites in Waterfall Valley.The view of Barn Bluff from our campsites in Waterfall Valley.

What were your top 3 highlights of the walk? 

  1. The ever-changing scenery. I’ve never seen a landscape like that along the Overland Track. The craggy mountains poking up on the horizon, the golden spikes of the button grass, the towering eucalyptus forests and the bright blue skies. I can’t count the number of times I stumbled because I was so busy watching the scenery and not the trail.
  2. Summiting both Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa. In addition to the wonders that can be found along the main track, there was time to take in several side-trips. I joined a few fellow hikers to summit two of the trail’s most imposing and iconic mountains – Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa (Tasmania’s tallest mountain). Conquering the physical challenge was reward enough, but the views from the top were unforgettable.
  3. Seeing others experience hiking and camping for the first time. There were several members of our group that had never gone backpacking before. Never set up a tent, much less slept in one. Never gone six days without a shower. It was a special treat to see their transformation into true outdoor adventurers as the days went by - and to see the huge grins on their faces at the end of the trail as they began making plans for their next hiking adventure.

Did you see any animals on the trail?

Being from the United States, my husband and I got to experience animals we had never seen before. We were greeted by wallabies at the campsites, including the adorable pademelons with baby joeys in their pouches. We passed countless skinks along the way, along with a couple of snakes!

The skies were filled with birds including the majestic yellow-tailed black cockatoo and the kookaburra (it took the group a while to convince me it wasn’t a monkey in the tree based on the sound of the kookaburra’s call).

My favourite birds were the clever currawongs which could work the buckles and zippers to get into unattended backpacks in search of an afternoon snack. I knew I was getting close to the campsite when I started to hear currawong calls.

What was the food and the campsites like?

I’ve done multi-day backpacking trips in the past and the food has almost always consisted of some flavourless dehydrated store-bought concoction in a foil packet. The food on this trip was the opposite.

I was amazed at how fresh everything was (e.g. lots of fresh veggies for lunch every day) and at our guides’ talent at making delicious meals out of seemingly simple ingredients – including amazing homemade desserts in the evening.

We camped on nice wooden platforms in group camping sites, which made great seats on which to gather around with our fellow hikers over the evening meal and to rest our weary legs. Our camping areas were usually off the beaten path in more secluded areas. Although that meant a bit of a longer walk to the bathrooms, we enjoyed the peace and quiet of being away from the other hikers.

Photo Dec 29, 8 22 20 PMCamping site on the Overland Track

You’ve been travelling for six months, where does it rate in your other experiences?

I’ve had countless adventures during the past six months: floating down a river in the Amazon Jungle, trekking through the Atacama Desert in Chile, biking Bolivia’s death road, hiking the Inca Trail, hang gliding in New Zealand and coming face-to-face with polar bears in the wild…to name but a few. And I’d say that hiking the Overland Track is definitely in the top five of my experiences so far because:

  • The landscape was so stunning and so unlike anything I have ever seen before.
  • The people I met in our hiking group were so funny, kind and interesting.
  • Spending six full days on the trail meant I had the time and space to truly experience the wonder and splendour of the natural world.
  • I saw sights that are only accessible on foot and that few others can say they’ve seen.    

Photo Dec 29, 5 57 22 PM

What is one thing you could have not left behind for this trip? (i.e. some item that you really couldn’t do without)?

The sun was blazing, bright and hot during much of our time on the Overland Track – something that isn’t that common along this trail that sees a lot of rain throughout the year. I’ve never experienced anything as intense as the Tasmanian summer sun. So, for me, a big brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt to protect me from the sun was an absolute blessing. But, it was nice to know I had quality rain gear in my pack too, just in case.

The group at the end of the trail

Are there any tips you would recommend for those who are thinking of doing the Overland Track?

  • Do it! It is amazing.
  • Bring quality hiking shoes that are well broken in. Several of our fellow hikers suffered from blisters which made for painful days of walking.
  • You don’t need to be a finely toned athlete to do this hike, but having a relatively good level of physical fitness and being comfortable walking for several hours a day will go a long ways toward making the trip more enjoyable.
  • Do the optional side-trips along the trail if you’re able. From summiting mountains to viewing breathtaking waterfalls, or even taking a dip in a mountain lake, some of my favourite memories of the trail are from the side-trips.

Read more about Michele’s Overland Track experience as well as countless other adventures - including her journey toward a healthier life - on her blog at www.alifemoreextraordinary.net

Find out more about our Overland Track walk

Interested in finding out more about other great walks in Tasmania? Check out our Tasmanian division Tasmanian Expeditions for a great range of Tasmanian adventures!

Australia, Overland Track

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