1 TREK: South Coast Track

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure | Tasmania -

EV­ERY TIME THE TOPIC of “best Tassie walks” comes up in the AG Out­door of­fice, there’s a mad scram­ble to voice our favourites. But there’s al­ways one stand­out that all our con­trib­u­tors agrees on: the South Coast Track.

This 85km ad­ven­ture can take walk­ers be­tween seven and nine days to com­plete, and they’ll be con­fronted by strong winds, as the track is abut­ted on its southern and north­ern sides by the wild Southern Ocean and the wilder­ness area en­com­passed in the South­west Na­tional Park.

To walk the South Coast Track, you first have to fly; a small plane trip from Ho­bart de­liv­ers walk­ers to the track start at Me­laleuca. This track of­fers ev­ery chal­lenge across re­mote, ever-chang­ing ter­rain for the en­tire time you’re on it. The South Coast Track is most fa­mous for its mud, and you’ll walk through (and nearly be swal­lowed by) plenty of it. Don’t ex­pect to have dry socks af­ter the first day but do en­joy it as part of the unique South Coast Track ex­pe­ri­ence. As well as the mud there are the vast but­ton-grass plains, wild tan­nin-stained rivers, creeks and lakes (of which you will cross many – mostly by foot, but one via a row­boat at New River La­goon), ex­pan­sive and lonely beaches, crack­ing sun­rises and sun­sets, ma­jes­tic sea cliffs bat­tered by the southern ocean, mem­o­rable camp­sites, and the mid­way chal­lenge of travers­ing the mighty Iron­bound Range – a tough but re­ward­ing 900m as­cent and then de­scent of an ex­posed moun­tain (we sug­gest a lay­over day af­ter this).

If this all sounds scary, it’s not meant to be; im­mers­ing your­self in one of the world’s last true wilder­ness ar­eas you’re go­ing to ex­pect a few chal­lenges but what makes the South Coast Track a near-au­to­matic choice on any ‘best walks’ list is the fact that it has just the right amount of chal­lenge, mixed with an in­cred­i­ble dose of spec­ta­cle that makes the ef­fort more than worth­while. Oh, and just to en­sure it does rank so highly, your last day on the track is re­warded once you ar­rive at the pretty sea­side vil­lage of Cockle Creek, with an awesome pub lunch and oblig­a­tory bev­er­age (or two) to cel­e­brate the achieve­ment.

In terms of prepa­ra­tion, you have to be rea­son­ably fit and able to walk with a full back­pack (whether guided or un­guided, you will need to carry all your food and gear – there is a re­stock point half­way) for around five to six hours a day. One es­sen­tial in terms of gear is a dry set of clothes (and socks) for when you get to camp; af­ter a day slog­ging through mud and wa­ter cross­ings, putting on dry clothes will feel like a true lux­ury. And of course, there’s the weather; this writer tack­led the South Coast Track dur­ing the peak of sum­mer (Fe­bru­ary) and was con­fronted with days rang­ing from -5°C when travers­ing the Iron­bounds to a balmy 35°C on the last day, with a mix of rain, sun­shine and strong winds through­out the trip. Yep, we’re again mak­ing the South Coast Track sound like a bloody big, slightly scary ad­ven­ture – and it is, but in a truly awesome way, and one that you’ll never for­get. It’s epic. – Justin Walker

This track of­fers ev­ery chal­lenge across re­mote, ever-chang­ing ter­rain for the en­tire time you’re on it.

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