Day 6 of Overland Track is a leisurely walk through heath and eucalypt forest to Pine Valley Hut. Officially not part of the Overland Track, Pine Valley has a beautiful setting in lush humid forest carpeted in bright green soft moss. It’s a popular place to climb the Acropolis and the Labyrinth.
Our bodies were becoming weary from carrying heavy backpacks and walking all day long over entangled tree roots and muddy tracks. But as Gustav Weindorfer managed to seduce his Tasmanian wife-to-be by living in the woods in shabby tent and eating wombats, our friends managed to seduce us in making a detour to the Pine Valley track.
And then, we spotted it – a snake. Our first snake on the track. Seen it and shared its territory. The notorious black tiger snake, nearly a meter away. If it bites you, you will die in extreme pain. Even if you suck out the poison, even if you compress the bite and lie still. I mentally congratulate myself for buying leg shields – our fancy gaiters.
But although highly venomous, it’s shy. As soon as the snake heard our footsteps, it slithered away into the forest. Jack jumpers ants encountered later on the track were less shy though…These giant ants native to Australia are notorious for their painful stings, which even can lead to death on rare occasions.
About halfway to Lake St Clair, we came to the junction leading to the Pine Valley, which is not officially part of the Overland Track. Beautifully located in a deep valley and surrounded by mountains, unsurprisingly, it’s popular with the locals coming on the week-end.
Although we crossed many forests during the last few days, the lush, humid forest leading to the Pine Valley Hut was special, the most beautiful on the whole Overland Track. This thick, mysteriously-looking, Tolkienesque ancient forest is all covered with brightly-green soft moss, lichen and fungi. Deciduous beech and pencil pines, tall tropical pandanus, fragrant eucalyptus, and giant ferns, the whole variety of trees grow on the forest’s boggy peat soil. This was one of the places we wished the Overland Track had been longer.
We crossed a suspension bridge over Cephissus Creek, passed through the beautiful Cephissus Falls before taking a small path towards the Pine Valley Hut.
If some parts of the track were on wooden boards to protect the flora underneath, some are just natural surfaces – rocks, gravel, muddy holes and twisted roots, and anything you can sprain your ankle on.
We made many breaks. Not to rest but just to watch this Jurassic Park. Climbing over knotty roots and watching every step, we were walking in constant head down mode, with no time to look around. But also, we wanted to make the most of our last time hiking in the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness.
We slowly made to the Pine Valley Hut. Small and rustic hut was inviting but again, we decided to camp and pitched our tents on the clearing near the soft green moss under the watchful eyes of the locals – curios but shy wallabies.
Overland Track: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Day 1: Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley Hut
Day 2: Waterfall Valley Hut to Windermere Hut
Day 3: Windermere Hut to Frog Flats
Day 4: Frog Flats to Kia Ora Hut through New Pelion Hut
Day 5: Kia Ora Hut to Bert Nichols Hut at Windy Ridge
Day 6: Bert Nichols Hut to Pine Valley Hut
Day 7: Pine Valley Hut to Narcissus Hut
Day 8: Narcissus Hut to Lake St Clair visitor centre
Distance: 10 km, walking time: 3.5 hrs
Side trips from Pine Valley Hut:
• The Acropolis (1’471m): 6 km return, 5 hrs. Popular but strenuous, very steep, hands-on-rock climb to the summit. You need to be physically feet to do this climb.
• The Labyrinth: 6 km return, 4.5 hrs. This is an easier walk compared to Acropolis, with only one major ascent.
For more information, please refer to Overland Track Practical Information.