I don’t know if I’ve happened to mention it before but I adore Tasmania. The natural scenery is stunning from Coastline to Alpine Plateaus, there are hiking trails, waterfalls, forests and National Parks in abundance, the distances are short and the little towns are quaint with delightful bakeries. Even the thriving metropolis of Hobart has a uniqueness.
On our first visit to Tasmania as a couple in 2010, we flew in and completed the seven day hike of the world famous Overland Track. We did it with a tour group and it was our first taste of extended hiking. We were hooked with both hiking and Tasmania. It was just the most adventurous experience. The walk started with drizzle, turned to rain, the wind was perpetually icy cold, it sleeted on us and then finally it snowed. This was in January. We slept in tents and put on wet clothes, socks and boots every day on bitterly cold mornings. I shudder at the memory. We walked on a trail that at times became a river, slid on tree roots, sloshed in deep mud and due to persistent clouds we missed all the views. This all, no doubt sounds quite horrendous but it was exciting, unpredictable and we felt like we had achieved something really special at the end.
The only regret we had was that we were unable to climb Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest peak, due to the poor weather conditions. Mt Ossa is located pretty much in the middle of the Overland Track and is a four day walk in. So we figured we had missed our opportunity as it was unlikely we would ever complete the whole Overland Track again.
Never say never though. A little bit of google research goes a long way. Mt Ossa is accessible without doing the whole Overland Track. There is a 12.2 km shortcut (on foot) that intersects with the Overland Track called the Arm River Track. It’s a bit of a local secret. and you don’t need to purchase the costly Overland Track pass to do it.
So on our third visit to Tasmania on a grand and glorious road trip we decided to ‘give it a bash’. Of course we knew how very important it was to time the adventure with the weather and some careful planning ensued. Wet boots are always inevitable but were were so hoping for Mt Ossa to be out of the clouds.
We planned to spend two nights at New Pelion Hut, the central Overland Track hikers hut, to give us a whole day to summit Mt Ossa.
We camped at Mole Creek and early morning packed up camp and turned left onto Mersey Forest Road where we then had to keep an eye out for tiny Maggs Road which was our turnoff. We followed Maggs Road to the end and found the tiny car park which is near where the Maggs and Arm Road meet. This is the start of the Arm River Track. There was only one other vehicle there and with us the car park was full.
Incidentally it was drizzling with rain and cold but we knew it would be. Tomorrow was the day the sun was supposed to shine. The all important day.
One minute into the hike we had to cross a small stream and Kevin sank in thick mud. Right over the boots. Great start. It was actually hilarious. Nothing like a bit of levity before a 45 minute extremely steep trail straight up into the clouds.
It levelled off somewhat after that and we crossed rivers balancing on logs which was a bit hairy and I had a big fat leach sucking on my head.
We walked and walked. Had lunch beside a lake in the mist. A quick lunch because we had a few leaches. Then we walked and walked again. It was a lovely walk. At times the track became a river, we slipped on tree roots and walked in mud. But this was all starting to feel very familiar to us.
The walk up Mt Ossa started off easy but turned a little challenging as we got higher. All I can say is thank goodness for long legs. Clambering over the boulder scree required them.
It got so challenging a bit further up that we were actually having second thoughts on whether to go on. This was serious climbing at great height. Luckily we banished those traitorous thoughts and after a false summit or two finally found ourselves perched upon the roof of Tasmania. What a moment. Those sublime views were the most amazing reward for having made the effort to do this. It was really the most amazing natural high feeling (no pun intended).
So with that ticked off the bucket list we were able to enjoy the more leisurely stroll in the sunshine back to New Pelion Hut where we spent another enjoyable night chatting to those folks doing the hard yards on the Overland Track. We took great glee in revealing our sneaky little shortcut to get here.
The walk back down the Arm River Track was also in pleasant weather so we saw it in a whole different perspective the following day. It was so very nice though to see our car waiting patiently in the car park. We were both so tired but in a contented, satisfied kind of way.
We walked a total of 38.7 km all up and it was so worth it.
Also check out my blog post on hiking into THE WALLS OF JERUSALEM Hiking the Walls of Jerusalem NP TASMANIA An absolute must do hike in Tasmania.