One of the main takeaways from walking Australia's iconic Overland Track is the sense of accomplishment that comes with it, but it doesn't come without its challenges.
You'll be carrying a 15-20kg pack as you traverse past incredible dolerite peaks and through sublime myrtle-beech rainforest. You'll climb Tasmania's most iconic peaks, persevering in unpredictable highland weather and proving to yourself that with persistence and drive, you can do almost anything. Not a bad by-product from a 6-day trek, right?
If you're keen to walk the Overland Track and explore the Cradle Mountain region, see what to expect on the trail below with our most frequently asked questions, including information about the terrain, campsites, water facilities, phone reception and more.
When is the best time to walk the Overland Track?
The peak season to walk the Overland Track is in the summer months of December to February. However, trekking in the shoulder seasons and even during Winter can provide a unique and memorable experience that is worth considering. For a detailed guide on when to trek the Overland Track, check out this article when to trek the Overland Track, which details the seasonal nuances for each month.
What flora and fauna can I expect to see on the Overland Track?
The Overland Track is a unique landscape offering a variety of localized climates, with a surprising amount of life that thrives in the National Park. Find out more about the flora and fauna you can expect to see on the trail.
What is the terrain like on the Overland Track?
The terrain is rugged and remote. Tracks may be rough and steep in sections. Over the trip, you will walk along boardwalks, up and down steps, through overgrown forests, through muddy sections and if you choose some of the side trips you will scramble over rocks.
Are there leeches on the Overland Track?
It’s not uncommon to encounter leeches on the Overland Track, particularly in areas with a lot of leaf foliage and tree coverage. Leeches tend to breed in warm moist areas, so can be spotted during the summer months in marshy areas. Leech bites do not hurt, however, if they bother you, we suggest bringing a salt solution to remove them from your skin if you come into contact with them.
GEAR & FOOD
What kind of hiking boots should I wear on the Overland Track?
We highly recommend that you have high cut hiking boots for this trail. There are lots of slippery tree roots in the rainforest areas, so ankle support will be beneficial. Also, you may encounter mud along the way, so if they are waterproof, you will hopefully have nice dry feet at the end of the day.
What day pack do I need?
The day pack that we recommend for the Overland Track should be a small compressible day pack that folds down to as small as your hand if not smaller. This is only to be used when you do side trips, as you will leave your 70-90L backpack at the trailhead and return to it after the side trip. It is not mandatory that you have the day pack, but we find that it is convenient to have one. An example of what we suggest for a daypack is the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack.
Should I bring trekking poles?
Hiking poles can definitely assist you with going up and down the inclines and for stability in mud or slippery tree roots. If you have not used them previously, we recommend that you do some training with them before you head out on the hike.
Do I need water purification tablets on the Overland Track?
Tasmania prides itself on clean pure water and most of the water along the track is safe to drink without purifying. Fresh rainwater tanks supplied by Parks and Wildlife can be found at each of the campsites, and you can also fill up your water bottle at many of the springs along the way.
What type of food do we eat on these trips?
You’d be surprised how much food you’ll eat after a day’s trekking along the Overland Track. Our guides are experienced when it comes to preparing meals along the Overland Track. Thanks to a food drop on day 3, we are able to have fresh produce every night along the trail. Lunches usually consist of vegetable wraps with hams, chicken or salami, while evening meals can vary from curries, stroganoff and pasta.
Deserts include improvised apple pie, and even a chocolate mousse if you’re lucky! Start your day with a hearty porridge or muesli, with snacks throughout the day including fruit and nuts, muesli bars and some fruit.
As this is a full pack adventure, each trekker is required to carry a portion of the group’s food, whether it be a couple of cucumbers, lettuce heads or a bag of pasta. All types of dietary requirements are catered for, including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and nut-free.
On the Cradle Huts version of the Overland Track, more gourmet meals can be expected, including antipasto platters, minestrone soups and risottos.
FITNESS & PREPARATION
How fit do I need to be to complete the full track?
You will need a good level of fitness and must be in good health. You will be carrying a full pack of around 15-20kg and trekking for up to six or seven hours a day. Over the trip you will walk along boardwalks, up and down steps, through overgrown forests and through muddy sections.
The terrain can get rugged and steep with potential variable weather conditions. This trek should not be underestimated as it can be tough and challenging.
How should I prepare for my Overland trek?
We recommend one hour of strenuous exercise 3-4 times per week (this can be cycling, jogging or walking) interspersed with relatively demanding bushwalks carrying a full pack weight (up to 20kg).
At least once a week, you should walk with a weighted day pack (5–7kg) for several hours for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness. The best exercise is multi-day bushwalking involving relatively steep ascents and descents and in variable weather conditions.
If I prefer travelling independently, would a self-guided trip be for me?
Self-guided trips require individuals to use problem-solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable in the outdoors, with map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!). The trail is marked but with variable weather conditions, you need to be adept at route finding and map reading.
Do I need to organise my own permits on the Overland Track?
You are required to have a permit if walking the Overland Track, however, choosing a trusted and experienced operator on the trail takes the hassle of organising this with the permit and National Park Pass costs included in the trip price.
World Expeditions secures the National Park passes and associated track passes each year for all their trekkers. It is a process that takes place well in advance before the season commences to ensure when you want to go, they are available as passes are issued in limited supplies.
If opting for a self-guided walk, it is best to book well in advance as permits for these are released from July 1 and tend to sell out during the peak season. Less than 60 permits are available a day to trekkers on the track during the season (May – October) to avoid overcrowding and for sustainable management of the track, 34 of which are for independent walkers. Read more about securing your Overland permits in this blog post.
CAMPSITES, TENTS & FACILITIES
What are the campsites like on the Overland Track?
If completing the full Overland Track, five nights of the trip will be spent along the track at designated commercial campsite areas. These wilderness areas have timber platforms for tents to be pitched on. There are nearby rainwater tanks and composting toilet facilities.
Tasmanian Expeditions provides strong, 2-person bushwalking tents (twin-share), which provide each occupant with a personal access door and vestibule for individual use. They are high quality 3-4 season tents which have been trialled and tested to withstand all weather conditions that may be encountered in Tassie.
The tents weigh between 2 and 2.5kg and this weight is shared equally by each occupant.
Are single tents available?
Unfortunately, we do not have a single tent supplement on our Overland Track trips. While we can certainly put a request for a single tent on your reservation, this cannot be guaranteed. It depends on the makeup of the group and the number of people booked on the departure. Travellers who have a single tent will also find that a single tent is heavier than carrying half of a 2-man tent.
Is there luggage storage?
If you are flying into Launceston and have excess baggage you do not want to take with you on your trip, we are able to store these at no cost at our Launceston office in Invermay. While there is not a separate secure luggage room, our offices are secure and we have had no issues of missing items in over 40 years of operation. If you would like a secured luggage room, we recommend asking your hotel if this facility is available.
What shower facilities are available?
Unfortunately, there are no shower facilities on the camping expeditions along the Overland Track. For those who are concerned about washing, the closest you’ll come to a bath are the alpine lakes that are accessible each day, where you can have a quick refreshing dip. However, for a real cleanse we recommend you bring baby wipes (remember to take them out with you as well!).
If a hot shower at the end of each day is a ‘make or break’ component for you, consider joining the Cradle Huts version of the Overland Track. This version has hot showers available each night at the cabins.
Can we charge phones and cameras on the Overland Track?
Unfortunately, there are no charging facilities at any of the huts along the Overland Track. We recommend bringing extra batteries or solar chargers for your phones. To conserve battery power on your mobile devices, turn your phones into flight mode.
Will I have phone reception?
As the Overland Track is renowned as being a true wilderness walk, you cannot expect phone reception while on the trail. For trekkers who summit Mount Ossa and Cradle Mountain, there is sometimes sporadic phone reception. However, this cannot be relied upon.
Our guides carry emergency satellite phones which allow them to communicate with our base in Launceston if any emergencies arise. Rest assured you are not completely alone in the wilderness.
What is the Leave No Trace policy?
We strongly adhere to Leave No Trace, Australia's national minimal impact program. As part of this philosophy, we encourage travellers to:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimise campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of your hosts and other visitors
Visit our Thoughtful Travel page for more information on how we reduce our environmental impact on the Overland Track.
Ready to see why the Overland Track holds legendary status as one of Australia's finest walks? View our range of guided and self-guided trips >