Hiking the South Coast Track Tasmania
The South Coast Track Tasmania is an 85 kilometer long walk that runs from Melaleuca to Cockle creek. Hiking the South Coast Track takes between 6 to 9 days to complete and is an arduous walk not to be undertaken by the unfit. Hiking the South Coast Track is classified as a moderate to demanding walk and the time taken to do this hike is variable depending on the weather, tides, swollen rivers and the amount of mud encountered.
The main walking season is December through to March however the weather can still be cold with gale force winds and heavy driving rain so you must be prepared to encounter extreme weather conditions. The terrain ranges from button grass plains, rock strewn beaches, steep climbs and descents and lots of mud. When hiking the South Coast Track you need to start at Melaleuca and you will need to fly in by light aircraft. However poor weather and strong winds can cause delays so it is best not to have too tight a timetable. Regular public transport is available at the end of the walk during the main walking season.
The Orange-bellied parrot,which is extremely rare, breeds in the summer months at Melaleuca and can be seen from a specially constructed hide about 100 meters from the Melaleuca airstrip.
Day 1: Is a 13 kilometer walk from Melaleuca to Cox Bight. Soon after setting out from the airstrip you walk along the beach until you reach Point Eric which is a sheltered campsite to spend the first night. This will take about 3 to 4 hours. All the campsites have pit toilets. You also need to carry portable stoves and fuel as fires are only permitted in certain areas.
Day2: Is an 18 kilometer hike from Cox Bight to Louisa River. There is a small climb of about 230 meters on this day and you walk over the Louisa Plains to the campsite at Louisa River. There are campsites on both sides of the Louisa River . If you can cross the river when you arrive then it may be best to camp on the other side just in case of rain overnight. Day 2 is about 5 to 7 hours of walking.
Day 3: Goes from Louisa River to Deadmans Bay. This day is a hard day as you have to cross the Ironbound Range which means a climb of about 900 meters followed by a descent of about 900 meters. If the weather is good then there are excellent views available, however you can get strong winds and low cloud which can make for an unpleasant and hard days walk. The descent is through forest and there are areas with lots of exposed tree roots so care must be taken not to slip or sprain an ankle . The time taken can be anywhere from 6 to 10 hours depending on fitness and weather.
Day4: Deadmans Bay to Osmiridian Beach.This is a 13 kilometer walk which takes between 4.5 to 6 hours to complete with about 150meters of climbing and descending . Most of this day is walking along beaches with some good views to be had. At the end of Prion Beach you must cross New River Lagoon by boat. There is a dinghy on either side to cross and you must leave one on either side once you have crossed for subsequent walkers. The campsite at Tylers Creek is reached by going left from the main track.
Day 5: Osmiridium Beach to Granite Beach takes 3 to 4 hours and is an 8 kilometer hike with climbs and descents of about 300 meters. Walk back to the main track from the campsite.The track passes through forested areas although it does pass some large bays on the coast. There is a steep climb then a less steep descent to Granite Beach. There are good views here.As you go to the eastern end of the beach climb up next to the waterfall and continue for another 100 meters to the campsite.
Day 6: Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet is a 10 kilometer walk which takes 5.5 to 7 hours and has about 600 meters of climbing and descending. The last major climb of the walk is on this day. You have to cross the South Cape Range which is forested country and can be quite muddy. There are some excellent views and magnificent forests to be seen. The campsite location means you have to cross the South Cape Rivulet which can be difficult after heavy rain or at high tide.
Day 7: South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek. The last day takes 3 to 4.5 hours,is 12 kilometers long and has climbs and descents of 150 meters. After walking along the next two beaches you have a choice of walking inland or scrambling over rocks to Lions head. If the weather is bad then the inland track may be better. The track then continues on to the road at Cockle Creek from where you can get a bus to Hobart,although you have to plan ahead as the bus only runs three days a week from December to March.
Hiking the South Coast Track is quite an achievement and one that is well worth undertaking.
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