15 December 2011

Day 6 - Overland Track, Tasmania

Bert Nichols' Hut via Narcissus Hut to Lake St Clair  
Distance to cover: 9.5km walk, 16km ferry ride
Forecast: Fine and sunny   
Dinner to look forward to: Rehydrated Indian takeaway - Goat Masala and Dhal Makhani!
Socks and Boots: Still wet but I have decided to treat myself with the pair of clean fluffy socks I have been saving!! <3

another scenic water bottle refilling point
A pretty easy walk today, it looks flat and boring on the map but we are fine with that! The forest we are going through today is much lower altitude than we have seen previously. It looks very familiar - similar to drier Karri/Jarrah forest in the south of WA. Just replace karri with gumtop stringybark, splendid fairy-wren with superb, golden whistler for olive etc.

Olive Whistler in a silver banksia
By this point, Sean has twitched all of the Tas endemics except for 40 spotted pardalote. For anyone interested, this has included; Tas wedge-tailed eagle, Tas native hen (Hilarious, noisy, looks like a giant moorhen), yellow-tailed black cockatoo, green rosella (which is actually yellow??), Tas scrubwren, Tas thornbill, Tas scrubtit, yellow wattlebird, yellow-throated honeyeater, strong-billed honeyeater, black-headed honeyeater, dusky robin, grey shrike-thrush, black currawong. Plus some other cool non endemics such as the pink robin, olive whistler and swift parrot.

I love this button grass! And also boardwalk!
We have been slightly concerned about missing our bus tomorrow, it is due to pick us up 5km south of the end of the track tomorrow. So if we stay at the next hut tonight (Narcissus), we need to cover 20km by 11.30am. After talking the options over with a few of the other hikers, we decide it would be a better idea to skip Narcissus, catch the ferry across Lake st Clair to the end of the track this arvo, and camp at the visitor centre. Then we only need to walk 5km in the morning to be at the bus stop.

Narcissus River crossing

Some dead people I found

At the ferry pickup, there are a lot of exhausted hikers soaking up the sun. On the right are the 3 guys we spent the most time with - Nick, Pat and Peter. They kindly donated us some spare vitaweets for lunches when I realised we had miscalculated and only had enough for half the journey!! This worked out OK for them too, as they had spent a few days arguing about whose fault it was they had bought too many, and their packs were overflowing with vitaweets...

View from the Narcissus Hut Jetty, north end of Lake st Clair

Everybody else who finished the track today opted to stay in the caravan park cabins or hotel down the road. Not us!! We have one more day to go so we will tent it at the free campsite!! Also, there's no point having a shower now when we have no soap or clean clothes to get into. Our little suitcase with clean clothes for the conference, shampoo etc is waiting for us just 5km down the road, at the bus pickup. Yay!

We have been told that this is a good place for platypus and quoll spotting, so after the cafe has closed we take our trusty trangia and dried food supplies over to the picnic tables and set up. Sean spots a furry echidna but lost it before I got to see it. There was another awesome black tiger snake curled up in the sun right about 3m from the sign that said "Beware - Tiger Snakes in this area". There are more friendly pademelons grazing nearby, as well as some cute fat skinks on the rocks. A persistent currawong is disgusted to have only stolen our box of matches rather than something delicious.

Ocellated skink - Niveoscincus ocellatus
Zen - Hugel River
It turns out to be a very social place to stop, Sean's PhD supervisor just happens to drop by (he is in Tas for the same conference Sean is attending), as well as several of the people we have been walking with for the last week.

When it finally gets dark, they all head off looking for platypus. We pack up our stuff and are surprised by some small hissy shadows scampering around - eastern quolls!!! Two are pale, one black. Awesomely cute.
Zen II - Lake St Clair
Well, that's the end of the walk! Tomorrow we have a casual 5km stroll on a road, down a hill, with a greasy fry up at a service station to look forward to. Whee! And clean clothes, and a shower. I feel quite a sense of achievement at having done this trek- especially when we got up the top of any of those peaks that looked back toward Cradle Mt, our start point, getting further and further away.

Next time... Walls of Jerusalem. http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=3904
Who wants to come? :)

Hot chocolate on the jetty, looking for Platypus


  1. Here's our packing list;

    --Clothes (in waterproof sack)-
    Undies for each day
    Hiking socks for every 2nd day, plus 1 pair for camp
    Thermal leggings or skins
    1 pair quickdry pants, shorts
    1 of each wool singlet, tshirt, LS shirt, jumper
    polarfleece vest (Don't take any cotton clothes for walking because they won't dry once wet. Also wool thermals >>> neoprene as they don't get stinky)
    Rainjacket and rainpants (jacket more rigid than rainbird is good)
    beanie, gloves, sunhat
    1 pair light trackpants/fishermans pants for camp
    1 shirt for camp/sleeping
    thongs/crocs for camp

    waterproof boots (i wish i had)
    optional - Gaiters (good for striding through mud > ankle deep)

    Lightweight tent
    Warm sleeping bag + liner to keep SB clean
    Inflatable pillow

    -Cooking gear-
    Trangia set with 2x1L saucepans and kettle.
    1L metho between 2 for 6-7 days
    Melamine 300ml bowl that doubled as mug
    Spork and one big plastic spoon for serving
    matches in ziplock
    pocket knife
    plastic rubbish bags (pack it all out!)

    Bandaids and Fixemull blister tape
    alcohol wipes
    small tube betadine
    small tube pawpaw ointment
    tiger balm (good for insect bites as well as aches)
    support bandage, triangle bandage
    Salonpas (sticky patches with tigerbalm. OMG. the best. find in asian supermarket)
    Gastrolite/berocca/similar electrolyte powder
    Immodium (just in case)
    Hayfever tabs
    Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, small flannel
    toilet paper
    Pack of wet ones as portable showers and for hands before cooking
    (this looks like a long list but without additional packaging fits in sandwich bag)

    Head torch with batteries
    camera with spare battery
    maps in ziplock bag
    dry bag for wallet, phone, keys

    We used one walking pole each, these were Very useful for probing mud holes, and for stability up and down slopes.

    Sean had breakfast bars and I had oatbran porridge. Hard for me to force anything down in the morning so I might as well make it long lasting. Oatbran just needs boiling water so that makes it easy.

    vitaweets and flatbread, small jar peanut butter, 250g pack philly (ok not refrigerated - other people brought sliced tasty cheese which is just as good), dried tomatoes, salami, foil packed tuna, avocado for first day or 2

    cupasoup per day with flatbread is nice. "scroggin" mix of M&Ms, bullets, clinkers. 2 muesli bars per person per day. Teabags, powdered milk, coffee etc. Fruit leather from Donnybrook fruit barn.

    I spent a lot of time drying veg and dinners so this was pretty awesome- eg chilli con carne with mince and red kidney beans, dried to a crumbly fish food consistency... sounds gross but rehydrates like new.

    See http://www.backpackingchef.com/dehydrating-food.html and http://ourhikingblog.com.au/2007/09/food-preparation-for-overland-track.html for some good food drying advice.

    Our staple for dinners was rice, but couscous and Deb are also good. Pasta requires boiling more water and I find it to be more short term fullness but perhaps that's just me.

    A lot of people had those Back Country Cuisine things, but at $10 per (small!) serve they didn't look appealing. With a bit of time and effort you can do much better and cheaper than these.

    chocolate biscuits dunked in hot chocolate!
    chocolate bars for you and spares as currency for trading with fellow hikers

  2. Great posts, Judy!
    It was great to read your adventure day by day. The accompanying photos are so awes. Some real stunners in there! Sounds like a terrific trip.

  3. you had a great trip. Although I've lived in Tassie since 1994, I haven't done the Overland track, and probably never will now (too old), so I've really enjoyed reading about your adventures & seeing all the lovely things you saw & experienced. I have however done some of the Walls of Jerusalem, and that was marvellous. But alas, we ran into a horrible blizzard on day 2 and had to walk out early (we only had 3 days allocated anyway). Still, I'm so glad that we got to the top and along a bit. It is truly beautiful up there, and so peaceful.