The South Coast Track is a challenging and iconic track in the South Coast region of Tasmania, Australia. The 85-kilometre track traverses remote wilderness within the Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site, and is managed as a wilderness walk.
Though don't expect - nice well maintained Duck Board or well groomed tracks with signs, Its quite the opposite - if thats what you are after, well then this hike is not for you hence "wilderness"
Its recommend that experienced bushwalkers can take up to six-to-eight days to cover the track in one direction. preferably from Melaleuca to Cockle creek to avoid being stranded by bad wether and possibly without food.
The track follows the wild southern coastline of Tasmania. It crosses two mountain ranges to avoid sections of impassable coastline and also crosses long sections of open plains adjacent to the coastline as It only follows the coast itself where there are beaches. The track may be combined with the Port Davey Track as a long continuous trek requiring around eight to fourteen days.
From the isolated locality of Melaleuca in the west, the track trailhead is located where the track adjoins the southern end of the South Coast Track at the Melaleuca Visitor Services Site of the Parks & Wildlife Service.
From this point the track heads south towards Cox's Bight, and then east to the Louisa River. Continuing east and after crossing the Ironbound Range, the track reaches Deadmans Bay and then to Prion Beach, requiring a boat crossing of a narrow ocean inlet. Continuing further east by south, the track reaches Granite Beach and then South Cape Rivulet within South Cape Bay. From this point, the track heads east by north to Cockle Creek where it reaches its eastern end - Hooray -
"You have finished the South Coast Track with mud n all"
Gear Planning is extremely critical on this trek - Do your research, blogs, notes and Tas Nat Park website. Your experience and likely your health could rest on it.
A great Read is : South Coast Track by John and Monica Chapman
South West Coast Track Wilderness -
"A Jouney to the end of the world as it seemed
on the edge of the Southern Ocean"
My preparation for the South West Coast Track in the weeks leading up to it was consuming and positive to the fact that it was distracting me from the day to day of home life. My prep was good and it proved that once being tested out in the elements.
Our departure came up so quick after 10 months of waiting here it was 22/1/16. I met 4 of my fellow hikers at the Sydney Jet Star Terminal (the other 5 we will meet them in hobart later that day) The Excitement/ Anticipation level was through the roof, we arrived in Hobart to be whisked away to what would be our Luxury BED and Breakfast Accommodation for the night Gregory House at Sandy Bay - Wow this is 5 Star to what we will be experiencing in the next 8 days.
We meet the Crew for drinks and dinner at Fish Frenzy, all smiles RIGHT !!! - lets see in a few days. We all opt for a reasonably early night, well me no sleep? I had to get in a few more hours of the tennis then i realised i forgot my group DESERT for one of our camping nights. Thankfully Woolies was open, 10 minutes to midnight i walk in and buy a Whittakers Dark Peppermint Block - dessert done.
The next morning we had a 8am departure so a early "continental breakfast" of course I fuelled up on everything that was on offer even yoghurt and milk. Before we knew it the Par Avion shuttle bus was outside and we were away to the Par Avion Airstrip at Cambridge Aerodrome, after a wait through several checkin's before us, it was our turn to carefully weigh our bags and hope its not over the 20kgs limit our packs were then sent on another plane and 7 of us were taken to one side with our very trusting pilot - Then after a short BRIEF he said to the group, who wants to sit at the front? Thankfully i gave it to Mitch.
We all boarded the tiny 10 seater and are loving life, the fact i have never been on a small Cessna aircraft before, we experience some awesome views of hobart and surrounds, the pilot says to us we are flying to the coast and not straight through the Mountains as a result of the threatening weather.
This means i have my own weather system churning inside me, I reach for the motion sick bag and I "LET IT GO" - we get another message over the headphones that we will be landing in approximately 10 minutes, well guess what? without warning i go again and miss the bag and get my shorts and camera bag - WELCOME to Melaleuca Air Strip -
Welcome to the South West Coast Track 85kms of Tasmanian wilderness
As I alight, i was dazed and confused but loving it .... I grab my pack from the transport plane and we do a short side trip before we start the trek to the Bird Hide and guess what? the Pilot and his colleagues were there having a break - Thanks for the Tim Tams Mate -
Melaleuca to Point Eric (13.4 kms)
We start our Journey and push on to Point Eric (Cox's Bight) for the first nights camp we arrive in good time to set up camp within some trees right next to the beach (this is the start of a PLACE I WOULD RATHER BE) Some of us were brave enough to swim (me not as yet) i would rather go for a ridiculous run on the beach
Point Eric to Louise River (16.8 kms)
This day would start with walking up the beach then eventually through a valley with low lying heath and we climb a short ascent with grey views of the coast that was past us, We kept climbing into alpine like terrain and reached the top, for us to have light misty rain pretty much to camp. The view was stunning with alpine hills down to a valley then a tree line into our camp - Of course everything was wet, so drying options were limited and having the 10 us under a small blue tarp for dinner was just priceless.
Louise River to Little Deadman's Bay (12.3 kms)
This was by far my favourite day, we had a 900m ascent and decent to tackle, we were ready but the weather was not much better for the first half of this day. We set off early and are close to the base of the Iron Bound Range before we know it, i take off at my own pace/ way ahead of the group as misty rain falls, the views are lost but still amazing, you can see over thousands of years how this environment was made. Before i know it i'am at the summit - Feeling on top of the World (well at least on top of the Iron Bound) as i wait for the group the weather closes in and its cold, I want to go - we wait for Dave - Our fearless Group leader and start to tackle the decent that is like no other.
We made a bad mistake not to have lunch before we started the decent proper - as it proved later on.... We were faced with 4/5 hrs of the most horrid, challenging muddy tree root obstacle course decent possible But we all loved it and sucked it up - We arrived at Little Deadman's Bay close to 7pm, completely exhausted and ready for another Freeze Dried meal -
Well done to everyone what a performance
Little Deadman's bay to Prion Beach / New River Lagoon (9.4 kms)
This was a easy day in comparison, As we made Prion Beach via a long beach walk and then we had to search for the Tinny that we were to use for our Boat crossing for the nights camp. Thanks to Dave but mostly Mitch's efforts as he powered across the lagoon several times to get us to camp safely. With Poor water and the Hugh horse like Flies driving us all mad, We were considering leaving and moving on - we stayed through it - had dinner on the beach and enjoyed a starry old night while easily spotting the Southern Cross -
Prion Beach/ New River Lagoon to Granite Beach (12.1 kms)
This day started with a 2km approx walk via the beach headland then down a rather large sand dune into Milford Creek (opportunity to collect some water) then a wade in the river for 200m to another sand dune for our walk out. Here we had a break and were able to see the river mouth where in the right tidal conditions its passable - I tested the waters and waded across to the other side with no problems
While passing some nice seascape views and a few beach side trips we were soon at Granite Beach
My favourite beach on the track and for good reason, Golden sand, Huge pebbles, a waterfall to bath under, a huge off shore wind delivering some nice set waves - Our camp for the next two nights was up a escarpment past some super fresh clean Tassie water. My first swim was with Yen and Srini, it was bloody cold with that offshore wind but loving it.
That night we experienced a taste of the "roaring 40's" some huge gusts of wind, in my tent i had my pack to one side myself to the other in hope that i was not going to take off.
The next day was our rest day and 6 of our group decided to do the first 2 kms of the next day's walk as something to do - crazy mad i'd say, as i opted to enjoy the beach, read and relax in a cave and also enjoy several swims before a storm passed us by, thankfully -
Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet (9.1 kms)
This was our muddiest day, we were into it up to our knee's and sometimes beyond, this felt harder than Iron Bound because we were less prepared as the terrain and mud was relentless. We got lost in the effort to miss a muddy patch, why? when we were already covered in it.
It was a long day towards the end before we were spat out to South Cape Rivulet, I was starting to get a bit antsy as i was a bit fatigued and my feet were well sore and totally prune like. I had never seen so many Leeches on my hands and actually lost count on the number, I was plucking them off Yen all day. Finally we were graced by the sea and another water crossing, At this point of time iam going in shoes and all - who cares camp is near by.
We take our Wet boots 'n' Socks off and find a position where they can drip dry but in the wonderful reality we are going to have to put the wet muddy gear back on again in the morning and feel the muddy slop that had no chance to dry - What a wonderful feeling
We were like battle worn that night, enjoyed our final night together on track -
South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek (11.4 kms)
We woke early and were gone by 07:30 for a fast paced hike to the end in three hours this was to be the finish of our amazing adventure - 6 of us pushed a head and arrived at the end as it all happened so quickly and i realised how nice Cockle Creek is through the blink of my eye as we took the taxi out in a effort for it to come back to pick the other 4 up - It was a shame we did not finish together but logistics at the time ment we couldn't
We reunited later that night in Hobart at the Fluke and Bruce to relive our amazing Journey.......
It was a amazing group that never stopped smiling/ joking each and everyday, It was certainly paradise in the wilderness - Thank you to Dave, Yen, Mitch, Katey, Kathy, Srini, Melinda, Ian, Maj- Britt - What a experience time to draft another one.
On the Sunday i thought i would go to Mona, (Museum of old and new art) mmm i don't i have enough blog space to tell you about that one - let me just put it like this, you will either love it or hate it.
Monday, Srini and I take off for a few days to Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula
Richmond - A beautiful historic country town, The Bakery is a Must (seafood mornay pie gets my thumbs up)
Port Arthur - What can i say? Iam glad i finally made it here:
The Port Arthur Site is National and International significance, It played a part in the settlement of this county. The Port Arthur site contains more than 30 historic buildings and ruins, A short ferry ride from the site is the Isle of the dead and Point Puer Boys Prison.
Port Arthur was a Pinal Station established in 1830 as a timber camp using convict labour for government projects. From 1833 Port Arthur was used as Punishment Station for repeat offenders from all Australian Colonies.
I will be back here to spend more time, I really enjoyed it.
Tasman Peninsula/ National Park what can i say other than camping in a paddock next a PUB - Yeah. Visiting Fortescue Bay for a hike to Cape Hauy and standing on the edge as Mitre Rock, Candle Stick and the Totem Pole tower above the Ocean below. This really feels like the end of the world...
My Bag is a Camera Bag -
Two of my greatest passions in life are travel and photography. My work is the Journey between looking and walking. The process of walking within the landscape gives me the energy to create the images. For me the journey is important, without the journey the images don't exist.
My other Bag is a Back Pack - Its still packed and ready to go to find that inspiration inbetween my toes.
"The Search" the Rip curl tag line really strikes a chord with me. My own personal search has been to fall in love with the qualities of light and water.