For those doing the
Overland Track, Cradle
Mountain and Lake St. Clair merge into one experience.
That was my original intention. When the
Overland Track didn't materialize, I spent a few days in the
Cradle Mountain section of the park and another two days
driving from the northern section of the park (Cradle
Mountain) to the southern (Lake St. Clair).
Mountain and Lake St. Clair are billed as one park, but
they're really two. Had I actually done the
Overland Track, the one obstacle I would've faced was my
car. There are public buses but they don't run
everyday and, as I recall, when they ran they ran once a
day and at different times on different days. I would've either had to drive to Lake St.
Clair's park entrance, leave my car behind after removing
all the trekking materials I required, and then hitch/bus it
back to Cradle Mountain to begin. Or else leave my car
at Cradle Mountain, finish the trek, and then hitch/bus back
to Cradle Mountain at the end. While the distances
between the parks is not far in absolute kilometers, I spent
two days traversing that distance in my car, stopping along
the way at scenic attractions.
Lake St. Clair has its own
range of day treks, and I did them all. But all that
trekking, one an all-day eight hour ordeal, didn't cover up
the guilt I was feeling from forsaking the Overland Track.
In February, when I was here, Overland Trackers can trek
from north to south. All trekkers terminate in the
Lake St. Clair region, and I met plenty coming off the
trail. The usual adjectives of "fascinating" and
"amazing" came up. I found out that availability of
space in the huts was ample. I would not have had to
cart in a tent at all. I wish I had gone for it, but
now, at Lake St. Clair, it was too late.
Ever resourceful and oh so cunning, I came up with my own
plan. Read below if you just can't tear your
eyes off this page.
lord of all that he surveyed in Lake. St Clair (l to
r): Acropolis from a distance -- Doug hiked
it; Doug relaxing outside Narcissus Hut near Lake
St. Clair; Doug on a 27 km day trek from Lake St. Clair entrance to Pine Hut
I slept a total of three (non-consecutive) nights in the basic campground facilities near the Lake St. Clair
park entrance. The cost in 2006 was AUD 6 per night. This campground
and the one I stayed in a few nights earlier at Cradle Mountain's park
were the first two Australian campgrounds I'd ever been to, and I got a
glimpse of an Australian campground experience. These camping
experiences recurred in Tasmania but
was rarely seen again thereafter.
By the third day, as I watched Overland Trackers emerge from the end of
the trail, ten foot smiles upon their faces, I regretted once again that
I never did the Overland. Even without cooking gear, I could have
gotten by on snack bars for a week while minting memory after
unforgettable memory. And so I made a boldish decision.
I was going to experience some of the Overland Track for myself. I
consulted a map. I could make a marathon 27 km day trek to the
Pine Hut and snack bars would be my sustenance! Banking that
I might be able to beg the use of someone's portable stove, I also
brought along a few packs of dried soup mixes.
With all that pent up energy unused since I shunned the Overland, I
hiked like a dynamo. At Pine Hut I re-encountered an Australian
government employee from Sydney named Clarkkie, who'd started the
Overland when we were still both camping at Cradle Mountain. I
joined him and his British sidekick Si on a day hike from Pine Hut to
the Acropolis. On my third day, the three of us hiked as far
as the Narcissus Hut, having it all to ourselves apart from a couple of
Narcissus Hut is at one end of the beautiful Lake St. Clair. The
visitors center, where I'd camped for two nights, was located at the
other. During the peak season, trekkers can radio the ferry to
transport them from side of the lake to the other in just 30 minutes.
It ain't free. In 2006, you had to outlay over AUD 30.
Is it worth it? It was to Clarkkie on his sizeable Australian
government stipend. He rushed upon it, as sidekick Si and I spent
5 hours working our way past splendid scenery to get back. No way
was I going to take a boat, still feeling guilty for all the trekking I
failed to do from missing the Overland Track. When Sidekick Si and
I finally got back to the visitors center, Clarkkie was already drunk on
sick amounts of cheap Australian beers. Sidekick Si, myself,
and a few others we'd spent a night with at the Pine Hut, all waiting
for the infrequent TassieLink buses to elsewhere, immersed ourselves in
more rounds of beer till the final goodbyes and tears came when each of
us went our own separate ways . . . forever.