The Reserve in Winter - A Walk Along Tasmania's Overland Track - July 2009

All images © David Noble. No image can be used for any purpose without permission.

Party - Chuin Nee Ooi, John Robens, Su Li Sin, Col Atkinson, Dave Noble

A few of us were keen to go to Tasmania and do the Overland Track in winter. I had school holidays and the others had leave approved and the trip got underway. It had been a long while since I had been to Tasmania for a winter trip. Things would have changed. The huts had improved and were heated either with gas or coal. The Overland Track itself had improved markedly as well - with sections duckboarded, corduroyed or hardened with rock. The unknown factor was snow and ice. Sometimes there can be deep snow. Other times there can be days of drizzle or heavy rain. On average in July - it seems to rain about 28 days per month at Cradle Mountain.

Above - At the start of the walk at Ronny Creek near Cradle Mountain. The party is at the registration booth while our driver, Lee from Tiger Wilderness Tours looks on. Lee, himself a bushwalker, had driven us from Launceston and had gone out of his way to be helpful - including a breakfast stop at Deloraine.


Above - Mt Ossa from the Pelion Valley

Photographic Notes

This was a photo-pfaffing trip. All of us had cameras and three of us carried digital SLR's. We had plenty of time to complete the walk and stop along the way to take photographs. This was important given the short daylight hours. I found it convenient to carry two still cameras - a small waterproof digital camera in my shirt pocket (on a cord around my neck). This was easy to deploy for quick snaps along the track. It was particularly convenient on bad weather days - photos could still be taken. And most convenient - I did not have to take off my pack to take photos. Most of the macro photos (fungi on the last few days) were taken with this camera. I also carried a digital SLR with two lenses - 18-55 mm and 55-200 mm. For one photo here, I borrowed Chuin Nee's 10-22 mm lens. I considered carrying a tripod - but due to weight considerations decided not to take one and instead rely on the image stabiliser in the 18-55 mm lens. This was quite reasonable - quite a few photos in the dark rain forest - such as Pine Valley were taken with 1/4 second exposures hand held. But on the other hand I would have liked the increased depth of field and increased sharpness provided by a tripod.

Equipment Notes

As well as normal bushwalking gear - we carried good 4 season tents (which we ended up not using - there was plenty of room in the huts and we decided not to camp in remote places as the weather was not too good at the times we wanted to do this). All of carried down jackets which were nice in the huts in the evening and mornings. Most days we walked in gloves. I walked in walking shoes (ones that i had used previously walking in Europe and NZ) - the others all had boots. My feet ended up the wet most days - but I could dry shoes and socks near the fires and at least start out dry.

We had a lot of discussions between us about whether to carry snowshoes. We thought that most times you probably would not need them - but at other times they may be most useful. We all carried snowhoes and ended up not needing them. But if we had walked a week earlier - it looks like they would have been essential. Our bus driver told us quite a few parties had had to turn back due to deep snow near Cradle Mountain. We also took trekking poles - and these were very useful all the way through the trip. They were good for stability in snow near at the start and middle of the walk. They were good supports in boggy sections and handy for creek crossings. And they were of greatest use on the icy section of track we had near Pelion and Kia-Ora. We took two small gas stoves and three large and two small gas cylinders. This allowed us to have a lot of hot drinks. We also were able to boil water in billies placed on the top of the pot belly stoves (in huts south of Pelion)

I carried a very small radio to pick up weather forecasts (and to get the score in the Ashes Test and the Tour de France results). There was good FM reception all the way along the walk. The local ABC station had a weather forecast at the end of the 7am news, and the presenter talked to a weather bureau forecaster each weekday morning around 7:35am about the next few days outlook.


Col's photos on facebook
Su Li's Photos

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