21st Nov 2012 11:42am | By Craig Shether
I let out a high-pitched squeal, stopped with fear. A dark, slithering tiger snake is just a few metres ahead, writhing in the vegetation. It’s the fifth one I’ve seen today, but I’ll never get used to seeing these creepy-looking, venomous reptiles.
It’s minding its own business, so, gingerly, I make my way around it, trying not to make any noise and holding my breath until I’m at more than a safe distance.
Exhaling a sigh of relief, I carry on my way, the fact that the last person to die from a snakebite in Tasmania was in 1979 offering little comfort.
I’m on day four of the mammoth six-day, 65km Overland Track walking tour, through the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
And there’s been a lot of ground covered in five days.
Starting near Ronnie Creek, my wife, Carly, is dressed for the part in matching backpack and boots, and is bounding around with energy – just as well, as we’ve got 10km to cover today.
Going at a steady pace, we walk along the track, which leads us to open buttongrass plains, filled with pretty, wild flowers and colourful birds, on to lush, temperate rainforest, rising to Crater Falls.
We’ve only been walking for about two hours, but this sight alone is one to keep us going; the furious shoot of white water crashing down on to the rocks below, heading downstream, past the swampy grasslands to join Ronny Creek.
Then it’s on to the breathtaking, dark, sapphire-blue Crater Lake. We opt to continue our ascent up to Marion’s Lookout (there is an easier route) to take in the sweeping views of Cradle Mountain. The bright blue sky is reflected in the calm waters of Dove Lake, while the jutting mountain soars an impressive 1,545 metres high.
We plod on to the Cradle Mountain Plateau, which opens up a postcard-pretty view.
Tired and ravenous, Carly and I descend through the highlands and call it a day in moss-carpeted Waterfall Valley.
At the end of each leg of the Overland Track, there are huts available for weary walkers. We set up camp in our modest surrounds and prepare dinner.
It’s nothing à la carte, but the two-minute noodles with dried peas and iodine-flavoured water taste like a gourmet meal right now. That is until I look across at our fellow campers who are chowing down on freeze-dried chicken curry feast and sipping red wine.
I have immediate food-envy. Who says you can’t enjoy the good things while hiking?
The next day, the birds are cheeping and the air is crisp as we begin our 8km trek from Waterfall Valley to Lake Windermere.
The three-hour route heads south across sedgeland moors dotted with pandani bushes, eucalyptus trees and rare pencil pines, some up to 1,000 years old.
After breaking for lunch at Lake Will, it’s a short stroll to Innes Falls at the lake’s southern end.
The trails then turn off at Lake Holmes and head across the jaw-droppingly beautiful buttongrass plains to the welcome sight of tea-coloured Lake Windermere, our home for the night.