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Lake St. Clair

Doug's Republic as far as the eye can see

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).

Cradle 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 by Tassielink 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.

Acropolis Tasmania Narcissus Pine Hut
Doug, 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 rats.   

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. 

Lake St. Clair


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The Harry Dandruff Universe

  So much to see and do at Lake St. Clair. Know what I mean, mates? You can stay at the Narcissus Hut or Pine Hut. Hike up the Acropolis and finish the Overland Track here. Grab Tassielink when you're done.