Overland Track – Day 1

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to Scott Kilvert Hut

On Saturday 20th December 2008 I went to the Launceston Transit Centre early in the morning to catch the Tassielink bus to Cradle Mountain. There were heaps of other bushwalkers and hikers already waiting.

With stops in Devonport and Sheffield we arrived at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre around 11.15am. It was a really nice bus ride with a friendly driver and I tried to make myself realise that there’s no going back from now on, I still wasn’t sure if I should really walk 80km through the wilderness with such a heavy backpack.

At the Cradle Mountain visitor centre I joined the queue to collect my Overland Track pass and then I needed to decide whether to take the shuttle bus to Ronny Creek or walk the 7.5km down to the start of the track. Tough decision, I came here to walk, not to take shuttle buses, but in the end I took the shuttle. I simply realised that it would be a very long walk to the first hut anyway, even if I take the shuttle. So I didn’t want to push too hard on the first day already.

Start of the Overland Track
Start of the Overland Track

At Ronny Creek I sat down for a while to have lunch and at around 12pm I finally registered at the walkers log book and started the long walk. The weather was great and I felt totally excited, I didn’t really know what to expect.

After a few minutes already I thought about returning, because my pack was so heavy I couldn’t think of carrying it around the mountains for 80km or more. But I’m not someone who gives up very quickly and I remembered my cycling trip around Tasmania where something similar happened, and in the end, with patience and discipline, I made it. So I pushed on.

Before I even reached Crater Lake I needed to fill up my water bottle. I thought (like a few others) there were water supplies at Ronny Creek but there wasn’t (except the creek), so I had to fill up at a small creek on the way. That was my first ‘wilderness water’ but I wasn’t sure if it actually was a good idea to drink from creeks so close to the park boundaries.

Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain

Then I passed Crater Lake and climbed up Marions Lookout. Fantastic view from on top of there and maybe it was the view and the silence that gave me more courage to move on, somehow it really felt good now with the heavy backpack on. Shortly after Marions Lookout I made the first of many experiences with a mud hole and was glad I invested in a pair of gaiters before I left Hobart.

Around 3.30pm I arrived at Kitchen Hut and it was fantastic sunny weather now. A group of people just left the hut to climb to the top of Cradle Mountain, which would take around 2h return. I had planned to do this on the second day, but with sunshine until 9pm I decided it would be good to climb up now, because you never know how the weather will be the next day.

So I left my pack in the hut and only took valuables and water bottle with me. Big mistake, I didn’t have a daypack and the climb included some tricky rock scrambling like I experienced earlier this year in Freycinet when I climbed Mount Amos. You really need both hands free to do climb up safely.

View from Cradle Mountain
View from Cradle Mountain

When I made it to the top I met Marc, a nice dutch guy who I would meet again at the end of the trip. It was really beautiful up there, fantastic panorama view, absolutely worth the climb but it’s probably better not to climb alone.

I took some photos and after maybe half an hour I noticed the group that climbed up before me was about to leave, so I joined them to be able to climb down with other people and not alone – just in case.

Around 5.30pm I reached Kitchen Hut and met Marc again, I had some snacks and after telling him that I would walk an alternative route and not to Waterfall Valley like all the folks, I went on to walk Face Track around Cradle Mountain.

It turned out to be a really difficult track to walk with a heavy backpack, if I had known that in advance I wouldn’t have walked that way. And there was no possibility to fill up my bottle, so after a while I ran out of water. I think I was close to dehydrating and the sun was still very hot.

Face Track emergency hut
Face Track emergency hut

I was really glad to see the ranger hut after a while, the hut was marked on my map at the junction to Lake Rodway Track. And even better, there was some water, although not from a flowing creek. Somehow I managed to stumble down to the hut, where I filled my bottle. I was a bit concerned about the water quality from this little tarn, so I decided to throw in one of my water treatment pills. Unfortunately it takes 30 minutes until the water is ready.

It was still about 1-2 hours of walking until Scott Kilvert Hut. At least I was now walking in the shadow behind Cradle Mountain. I never felt such pain in my legs before, I was so tired I only stumbled along the track. I drank water from a creek because the treated water still wasn’t ready. It felt like a real wilderness survival experience, and it was so late by now that I was sure to be the only person left on the tracks around.

Back of Cradle Mountain
Back of Cradle Mountain

It must have been around 8pm when I reached Scott Kilvert Hut after 8 hours of walking on the first day. There were only 3 people in the hut, a nice Australian couple on an overnight trip and an American who would tell me a lot of stories later that night. They couldn’t believe how tired I was, I think I had to sit down for at 15 minutes just to catch my breath. It was a really shocking experience on the first day, I’m not sure if I ever felt so tired before.

But hey, I had enough food supplies, I could simply spend a whole day at Scott Kilvert Hut and relax before I walk on. And that is what I decided to.

The hut itself was very nice, it’s a two storey building and you can sleep on the second floor. As there were only 3 people when I arrived (and two arrived late at night) it was a very quiet night. I can absolutely recommend spending the first night at Scott Kilvert Hut, 99% of all Overland Track people don’t seem to know this hut, so you can easily extend your trip by one night and the scenery around there is really great.