South Coast Track Tasmania

We just returned from South Coast Track, Tasmania. The track was really too wet so mud, mud, mud up to our knees or worse for 7 days. Also track times and distances were much longer than quoted on track PR, so we walked for 10-13 hours every day. Gruelling. It was winter there so temperatures were maybe 10 daytime and 0 night time.

The track is also very dangerous in places and has undisclosed traps which you could only escape by retreating, but up to 6 days’ retreat would see you well out of food. For example, at Granite Beach you had to climb a vertical cliff with less than a metre of rocky beach at the bottom and 2 metre waves rapidly approaching as the tide rushed in.

At South Cape Rivulet the crossing was chest deep and intermittently swept by 2 metre waves. If I had not carried 45 metres of 2mm Spectra cord with a breaking strain of 400 kg I would never have got Della or Kerri across. Also nowhere to emergency camp and nowhere for a helicopter to land, so no alternative. I guess you could wait it out huddled under a tree with your tent draped over you until the tide went out and the stream went down. How long?

I would hesitate to recommend this track to most people.

The track crosses interminable button grass swamps which are really desolate and uninspiring. Most of the remainder of the time you are pushing through narrow tunnels of 3 metre high sword grass. For some reason the track goes straight up wherever it can to crests rather than saddles. These sections are watercourses.

It walks on the side of ridges whenever it could have stuck to the tops of same. When there might be a view it walks on the lee side of sand hills etc so there is no view of the sea (which was sometimes really beautiful). I thought it would be much easier than the Dusky Track in Fiordland where I was cautious of taking Della, but in fact it was much worse – and without the spectacular beauty or the opportunity to camp in dry huts of a night, or anywhere in between the designated camp sites.

Instead of comfy dry huts we camped in very wet bush and drank water which was darker than strong tea and often tasted yuck.The campsites are few and far between, particularly on the Ironbound range which took us 13.5 hours of steady walking to cross. I am really sorry I didn’t go to the Dusky again this year. Next year hopefully. Della has provided a much more detailed (and poetic) track description here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasmanias-south-coast-track-hells-holiday/

PS: I wrote this when I was feeling a bit put off by the track (as you can see). In retrospect there were some nice bits to see and camp even if they were widely separated. I will let some photos of the trip taken in the direction Melaleuca to Cockle creek speak for themselves (the weather was lousy for photography – we had pour raincoats on practically the whole trip; I can swear by the efficacy of event raincoats however):

Freney Lagoon

Cox’s Bight

Cox’s Bight

Faraway Creek

Faraway Creek

Loiusa River

Ironbound Range

Deadman’s Creek

Little Deadman’s

Prion Bay

Prion Bay

New River Lagoon

Granite Beach

Granite Beach

Horizontal Scrub

South Cape Rivulet

Near Cockle Creek

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