1 TREK: South Coast Track
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.