Having taken time off work to take my yearly trip down the Overland Track, we arrived at Cradle Mountain in perfect sunny conditions. Only, the weather gods had forecast the biggest snow event of the season for the following day. Overnight the forecast held true and we set off tentatively from Ronny Creek, one member of our group was nearly blown off the track within thirty meters of starting and lost his pack cover twice in the next thirty. We cautiously made our way up to Crater Falls to have a look into the cauldron and seeing the waters of the lake getting whipped up into small waterspouts it was decided that we would abandon the trip. I paused here, trying to reconcile the decision in my head. Eventually I came to terms with it and headed down, by the time we had reached the visitor centre I had accepted that it was not going to happen this time around. Looking for a positive and a way to make the most of our time I suggested we change plans, head home, repack and head off to Freycinet and have a cruisy couple of day in the sun on the beaches.
We drove back to Lake St Clair to pick up the vehicle we had dropped off and made our way home.
I didn’t think I would be asleep in my own bed again so soon and the following day I repacked everything into my 38L Salomon pack for a two night jaunt on the coast.
We left Hobart around 7:30 in the morning, procured coffee and headed up the coast, stopping briefly at the spiky bridge, Swansea and in Coles Bay. We made good time and were on the track around 10:30. Reece and I had completed the Freycinet circuit earlier in the year on a three day trip and we decided to be gentle on Mike who was on his first multi day walk and the itinerary was set to spend the first night at Cooks Beach and the second at Wineglass Bay, instead of hiking over Mt Graham we would walk back around the beaches.
We set off along the track towards Hazards Beach in the sun, a stark contrast to our experience a few days earlier at Ronny Creek. The walking was easy and pleasant as we followed the gently undulating coastal track taking in the views back into Coles Bay and across to Swansea. It’s always nice to watch the Hazards slowly grow smaller as you round the point where they meet the water. A small section of She Oak forest is entered and the first glimpses of beautiful turquoise waters and granite bays appear. As we descended we could head the gentle rush of small waves advancing up the beach. Then almost abruptly we set foot on Hazards beach, such a sunny cool day with a gentle breeze made the beach a small paradise. It was stunning and the walk up Hazards beach flew by, only interrupted by my constant need to stop and take photos.
We soon arrived at Hazards Beach Campsite which was our lunch stop for the day, Reece and Mike put the stove on for a coffee whilst I sat in the sun enjoying a simple lunch of biscuits spread with cashew nut butter. There was talk of a swim, however none of us ended up jumping in that day.
Once lunch was finished and the bags repacked we set off again, the track follows the coast again although slightly inland it was still close enough to occasionally feel a cool breeze. Once more this section of track gently undulates, rising and falling to meet four or five dry creek beds as it makes its way to Cooks Beach. To our left Mt Freycinet reminded us of the hot summer trip we had earlier in the year. On that trip we had taken water for that days climb and descent but also for the evening at camp and the following day and hauled it up to the saddle between Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham as there is generally no drinkable water at the Wineglass Bay campsite. In 28 degree heat this made for a long tiring day, fortunately this time we would only have to carry it back around the peninsular.
At the last creek bed the track rises again, but only for a few meters onto a rocky headland which offers sweeping views along Cooks Beach, our destination for the night. An easy descent off the rocks and along the beach was all that remained for the day, we made short work of this and arrived at the campsite. We quickly set up camp, filled water from the tanks, availed ourselves of the facilities and prepared to make dinner in the remainder of the evening light.
For dinner that night I experimented with a new brand of freeze dried meal that I hadn’t tried before. A Mexican Chilli with Avocado by Radix Nutrition, my plan was to return to plant based eating when I returned from this walk and I am glad I tried this meal as I now have complete confidence that I can fulfil my dietary choices on the track in the future. It was by far one of the nicest freeze dried meals I have had.
Dinner done and cleaned up we chatted for a while then decided to head down to the beach for a bit of stargazing. No stargazing is complete without a nip or two of an alcohol containing beverage, the vodka I had carried all day went down nicely, too nicely and a nip or two turned into five or six. The stars that night were clear and crisp and we saw numerous shooting stars, satellites and the ISS passing over.
Needless to say I slept soundly that night and we awoke to a chilly morning. We cooked breakfast, made the important coffee and broke camp. Our packs set up for the day and water bladders full for the night and following day we decided to check out Bryans Beach before departing. We left the packs behind and headed out for the 6.4km return walk to the picturesque beach overlooking Schouten Passage. After 45 minutes walking we arrived at the beach and again contemplated a dip, had it not been for the boats moored in the bay we may well have jumped in (we didn’t have any swim clothes, so the dip would have been the skinny kind).
Returning to the packs soon thereafter we discovered that we had been raided by the Currawongs, a clever raven looking bird that have developed the skill of undoing zips and plundering food from packs. I hadn’t experienced them doing this at Freycinet before, perhaps I had just been lucky. However on the Overland Track I always secure my pack with a pack cover and small lock on the zip in case they get the cover off. Next time I’ll be more wary.
Luckily I had spare snacks and after refilling the pockets on my pack we set off back the way we had came the previous day. We again stopped for lunch at Hazards Campsite, this time in the actual camping area where someone had constructed a small seating area with an impromptu stone table. No sooner had Mike and I opened our packs when we heard a shrill scream from the beach area, followed by hoots and OH OH OH, the sounds of Reece taking a plunge in the still cold Tasmanian waters. This time of year the warm currents haven’t reached the state yet and the water temperatures are quite cool. Reece returned shortly after and we finished off a long lunch before heading back down Hazards Beach to the Isthmus Track which links Hazards Beach with Wineglass Bay.
Once on the Isthmus Track the humidity rose due to Hazards Lagoon which fills much of the area between the two beaches. Around a third of the way into this section of track a small path leads down to the lagoon which is worth taking for the panoramic views of the lagoon itself and Mt Freycinet and Graham rising behind. Black swans, ducks and plenty of frogs made a wonderful sight.
Ten or fifteen minutes later we arrived at Wineglass bay in amazing afternoon light, a few day walkers still remained on the beach as we made our way down to the far corner of the bay.
We set up camp once more and began to battle the mosquitoes, a spritz with repellent and that was the end of them. Tonight’s dinner was a curry, I had used freeze dried components from backcountry to build a base of Veg, Rice and Freeze dried mince to which I added a simple curry mix and had sealed in a zip lock bag. I find I can get three meals out of a bag each of the components and can then add spices to my own taste rather than relying on their taste.
We finished off the remaining adult beverages and were in bed a bit earlier than the night before, all up with the side trip we had covered 18km that day and with a bit of redness in the cheeks from the sun sleep again came easy.
The morning again dawned cool as we progressed through the morning routine the sun rose and by the time we set off it was shorts and T-shirt weather. Walking down the beach we prepared ourselves for the 200 meters of elevation rise to the saddle and famous Wineglass Bay lookout. The Track has been rerouted and graded in the the last few years and is not as taxing as it used to be, however it is still a few hundred meters of height gain. As we climbed up the track, day walkers began to make their way down and a brief chat was a welcome break to the upwards progress. For me one of the first things I notice when getting closer to the end of a track is the deodorant and perfumes of people coming the other way, at times it can feel overwhelming, almost like an assault on the senses. I would have to say they probably think exactly the opposite though, having not showered for a few days and with hours of exertion each day my own scent was probably just as confronting.
We reached the lookout with a drop or six of sweat and dropped the packs to head out and look over where we had been for the last few days. Once last glimpse into Wineglass Bay and then the steady descent to the carpark.
We stopped at Honeymoon Bay for a swim and to change into fresh clothes from the car and headed straight to the pub for steak sandwiches and Beer for Reece and Mike and a burger and Soda Water for me.