The third day of Overland Track can be the longest day of the track if you go all the way to New Pelion Hut. But not difficult. It starts with an easy walk through Pine Forest Moor, an open button grass plain, then goes through dense forest with deep mud and tangled tree roots slowing down the progression before coming across a clearing, Frog Flats.
The day started with crossing the plains and button grass moorlands with views across the Forth River Valley.
After a few kilometres, we crossed Pelion Creek and entered the myrtle-beech and moss-filled forest. Eight thousand feet walking on the track each year, year after year, have eroded the ground to mud and exposed large tree roots. Climbing over knotty roots and mud bogs, navigating through slippery rocks and watching every step was a constant challenge.
After crossing the forest, we found ourselves walking again on the plains and moorlands.
Soon, we entered another forest again before starting our descent to Frog Flats beside the River Forth, the lowest section of the Overland Track (730m). Making our way through entangled roots and mud, on a few occasions we managed to lose the trail. Despite bright orange walking trail markers put on trees, some are not so obvious to spot. Not sure how people manage to hike in winter, when the snow is up to their chest.
Although not difficult, it was a long day, and we decided to treat ourselves and camp at Frog Flats for our wild Christmas Eve. There is a dedicated place for camping but most walkers push on to New Pelion Hut. “Leeches! It’s damp over here, it should be a leeches’ paradise,” Errol stopped in his tracks while pitching the tent. After our thorough check for the beasts, we were relieved to find none.
It was a long, exhausting, and rewarding day, typical of the days ahead. It was Christmas Eve, and the place was just perfect for it. We were by ourselves, in the middle of the enchanted forest carpeted with moss and fungi, and surrounded by the sounds of nature. We regretfully recalled Apricot Crumble and Cheesecake we have left in the shop…
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 from Windermere Hut to Frog Flats: 10 km, walking time: 3 hrs
Distance from Windermere Hut to New Pelion Hut: 14 km, walking time: 5-6 hrs
Side trips from New Pelion Hut:
• Old Pelion Hut: 1 km return, 1/2 hour. Easy walk to the historic hut.
• Forth Valley Lookout: 6.8km, 2hrs. Easy walk to see the views over the glacial valley and the giant eucalypt forest.
• Mt Oakleigh (1’252 m): 9.6km return, 4-5hrs.
For more information, please refer to Overland Track Practical Information.