Hiking Overland Track North (Day 3&4)

On Wednesday morning, 15th September 2021, I had an early start, as about 22km were in front of me. The weather was perfect. I was frosty in the morning, but the sun came out quickly and heated me up. A large part of the overland track is now boardwalk. Thus, you don’t find anymore deep puddles of mud like 20 or 30 years ago. There used to be a mud trench after Waterfall Valley hut back in the days, but this one is long gone. You basically cross the waterfalls above, and I didn’t go down to have a look at any of it. After crossing the Waterfall Valley you go slightly uphill before continuing to the south. The most of the day you’re just walking south along a wide high plateau. I also skipped the detour to Lake Will, and just had a drink at the wooden platform at the turnoff. While you’re walking, the Forth valley rises to your left, and Mount Oakleigh and Mount Pelion West are coming closer.

Frosty morning along the boardwalks with the Old Waterfall Valley Hut in the back
Crossing Waterfall Valley
Last view back to Barn Bluff at the junction to Lake Will

At about 9:30 o’clock I arrived at Lake Windermere, and shortly afterwards at the Windermere Hut. The hut was already deserted, but from the log book it appeared that it was packed the night before. So, I was glad I slept in an almost empty Waterfall Valley Hut instead. After a brief break I continued on. The next section is maybe the most dull of the complete Overland track. There’s only the Mersey River viewpoint, which provides a bit of variety along the way. I had my early lunch break there.

Forth Valley is still covered in clouds
Arriving at Lake Windermere
Mount Oakleigh (left) and Mount Pelion East (right, just peaking out above the tree line), and a lonely bird waiting patiently at the only tree in the middle
Interestingly the boardwalk went directly through this bush in the middle of nowhere

Then Mount Pelion West came closer and closer, and just before you reach Pelion Creek you also finally enter the forest again. It’s quite a dramatic change of landscape. I filled up my water at Pelion Creek and then sat down at the junction to Mount Pelion West, which I completely missed the last time. While I was sitting there all of a sudden another bush walker came towards me. We chatted briefly, but somehow it felt a bit odd. He was this typical Tassie bushwalker, walking in shorts, long John’s (because it’s cold in Winter), and gaiters. No, Tasmanians are never wearing long trousers, why would you?! Anyway, he told me, he was checking out the campsite hundred metres up Pelion Creek, along the track which is formally closed since several decades. He said his friends went up Mount Pelion West, and that they’re all camping at Frog Flats. The next 7km from here to New Pelion hut I already knew from my last visit to Mount Pelion West in March.

After a short section in the green forest…
…Mount Pelion West is directly in front of you
Crossing the Forth River at Frog Flats, shortly after its spring

After a nice night at New Pelion Hut, I had again an early start. There was ground fog with hoarfrost on the plain in front of Pelion Hut. Nevertheless, after I got ready to take off the sun was already out and about. The beginning of the track along Lake Ayr was easy to find. But finding the turnoff into Lees Paddocks Track was a bit tricky. There’s another walker registration post. Once, you reach this, keep right and follow directly the edge of the forest. After a few hundred metres there’s additional marking tape leading you into the forest. Sometimes the track is not clear at first sight, but looking around a bit it’s not hard to follow. At Reedy Lake there’s an old walker registration box, but PWST didn’t update the logbook in a while. The 5km down to Lees Paddocks Hut are just a marvellous walk through beech forest. You mainly follow easily the small creek through green forestry. That’s maybe the section I enjoyed the most on this particular hike. The pictures can’t even nearly describe the scenery within the forest on this sunny day. Lees Paddock Hut is a private hut on a private block of land. During summer they’re still using the paddocks to produce some highland milk. As such, you may find some milk cans around the hut. That’s not a garbage bin of any kind, just in case you wonder. I sat down in front of the hut and lunch there. The hut is open, but you would need permission from the owner, if you want to stay there overnight (also if you would like to camp there overnight).

Early Morning at Pelion Hut
Lake Ayr with the southern side of Mount Oakleigh behind
Mount Pelion East seen from Reedy Lake
Beautiful walk through the forest…
…down to Lees Paddocks with Dean Bluff (left) above it. That’s a hidden gem.
Lees Paddocks Hut

The track along the Mersey river is much more used. It’s easy to follow, and you can even make two detours to two waterfalls. I did the short one to the Lewis Falls, as I missed the signs and turnoff to the Oxley Falls, coming from this direction. After a while you finally get out a a huge plain belonging to the Pine Hut. It’s still private property, but the banks at the Mersey river seemed to be used during summer for some camping and campfires. The Pine Hut itself is quite run down. It doesn’t look maintained, and you only find old fridges, stoves and batteries inside. It would be such a nice mountain hut for the summer season, if it would be properly renovated and maintained. But as I imagine, the owners wouldn’t even appreciate any visitors on their land. As most Tassies, they want to keep their little hut a secret for themselves. After the Pine Hut there’s the (new) suspension bridge. Nowadays crossing the Mersey River is straightforward and always possible.

Private Property Boundary with the wooden gate
Crossing Big Creek in lush green forest…
…before arriving at Lewis Falls.
Pine Hut is sadly run down
Finally made it back to the Suspension Bridge (the weather was much better that day, than on Sunday evening, when it was still raining)

My car was waiting lonely for me at the carpark. With the new tyres I didn’t had a problem to drive out slowly along the gravel road. I made a brief stop at the Rowallan Dam, that’s the first dam of the Mersey River for electricity production. A short distance further down the river is the canoe slalom course. I used the public toilets, had a walk along the river and the parcour. Afterwards, I lit the kettle and enjoyed a coffee in the afternoon sun. Reflecting on the last 4 days of hiking. During this time only a single car drove into the area. Afterwards I also briefly stopped at Parangana Dam. This one has an impressive spillway, and much of its water travels to Lemonthyme Power station at the Forth River.

Rowallan Dam
Canoe Slalom Course
Parangana Dam
GPX track

2 thoughts on “Hiking Overland Track North (Day 3&4)

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