Snippets of Stories: Glimpses of the Overland Track

There is a vast literature on Tasmania’s famous Overland Track. Too vast, in fact. So, instead of reading it all, here are some quotes from a selection of historical sources, advice from media guides, and amusing anecdotes from blogs. These have been put with a few of my photographs comparing summer and winter conditions of the Overland, whilst I get around to actually writing a full post about my recent winter Overland hike, and compiling the literal thousands of photos into my first amateur attempts at a timelapse (watch this space).

“FLIP-flop. Flip-flop. Flip- flop. That noise, coming from Graeme Perkins’ right boot heel on Saturday morning, was the sound of trouble approaching… Not long after the noise began, the entire sole came off. ‘Within an hour, the second one did the same,’ Mr Perkins said yesterday. ‘At the time I bought them, they were top of line’ But that was 25 years ago.” Ben Wild, The Advocate, May 2008.

“After the first day of walking I felt somewhat like a turtle, with its stretched and elongated neck which seems quite distant from the shoulders, and with its portable house attached to its back.” The Australian Women’s Weekly 17th January, 1973.

“Quickly the snow conditions reverted to atrocious and I abandoned my plan to go to the Waterfall Valley hut and instead headed toward the Kitchen Hut making an encircelment of Cradle Mountain. Now I was facing a night out in the tent on a slope that looked like a cross between the Scottish Cairngorms and the Antarctic Plateau! After struggling along the route for an hour or so I knew it was going to get dark soon so I settled on a wierd looking depression among some bushes and stomped out a bit of a platfrom with the snowshoes. Slowly a pad took shape but it was springy as much of the snow was packed on top of buried bushes. Eventually I got the tent up in an acceptable fashion and settled in for the night.” Wild Isle.

“This is what I’d hoped for on the Overland Track – a little hardship, nature at its most pristine, big views – though not what I’d expected after seeing a page from the visitor book at Waldheim, near Cradle Mountain, in Launceston’s Queen Victoria Museum. It reads like a shopping list of inclement weather.
‘Rainfall – about ½ foot per day. Level of water table – 3 inches above surface. Evaporation – 2 gallons per garment (near fire). Direction of wind – generally down from kitchen flue. Sunshine – 5 minutes per annum. Temperature – avg 37 below [2ºC],’ Sydney walker John Crust scrawled in January 1932, soon after the track opened to the hiking public.” Louise Southerden, Sydney Morning Herald, September 2012.

“Rob consoled me that snakes were rare but there was an unfortunate story of a trekker who veered off the track to relieve herself and was nipped on the bottom by an unsuspecting snake. Too embarrassed to report what had happened, she continued on, to her detriment, as she died as a result. A sobering story on several levels.” Meg and Mark Smith.

“…Tasmanian Ossa, whose pinnacle exceeds four thousand feet. The sides being exceedingly rugged, and clothed with wood, and numerous gullies and ravines intersecting the path, voyagers have frequently been absent more days than
one, the trees rendering the declivity so very deceptive, that whilst the traveller has imagined himself descending directly upon Hobart Town, he has diverged so far from the track, as to be, upon reaching level ground, some ten or twelve miles from his point of destination.” The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, January 1844.

“Weindorfer’s first sight of Cradle Mountain was in 1909 when he went bushwalking with a fellow botanist and where he was enthralled by the variety of plants and the spectacular beauty of the mountain. It was to become the second great love of his life, and one he was eager to share with his wife. In the summer of 1910, they climbed the mountain, accompanied by a friend. Kate was the first woman to make the ascent and Weindorfer made his prophetic announcement, that ‘This must be a National park for the people for all time’ — a resolution that was to transform the rest of their lives.” Tim Dub, Australian Geographic, March 2010.

“I threw my 24 kilo (53 lbs) pack on my back and muttered, ‘shit’!” Dogbait’s Babble.

“To hike with a child is to hike with a different perspective. As we set out from Cradle Valley at the start of the track, heavy mist lay over the land. Where I saw fog stealing the mountain views, Kiri walked with her hands in the air, trying to feel the clouds. At that moment I knew this would be a unique experience, not just for Kiri but also for me.”Andrew Bain’s Adventure before Avarice.

See also my mother’s excellent photography and short description of our recent family winter Overland.

And for a multitude of stories, advice and great reading on the Overland Track and other hikes, it’s hard to go past Frank and Sue’s Our Hiking Blog. I even met this famous blogging couple and their daughter on the winter Overland!

Have I missed the best Overland Track anecdotes? Suggestions welcome! Also, a review of the Overland guiding literature still to come.

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7 thoughts on “Snippets of Stories: Glimpses of the Overland Track

  1. A wonderful collection of snippets; a most delightful post! We have much to thank both Gustav and Kate for.
    It was your winter photo of the hikers on the slopes of Mt Doris that caught my eye as I was scrolling down your home page. I remembered being there in similar conditions and not being able to resist making snow angels! Well, it was my first trip to the ‘snow’! 😊

    • I’m afraid to admit that I did not make snow angels on this occasion! But then, I’d been to the snow before, including skiing at Ben Lomond – a pretty wonderful and archaic ski resort if you ever get the chance.

      • We’ve seen Ben Lomond village from above, but it was summer time, so I don’t think anything was open. I follow the lodge on Facebook… Looks great! When we get a car we’re willing to take up Jacob’s Ladder it will be on the To Do list! 😊

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