For the first time ever, Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain Huts opened up its secluded private chalets this year for those brave enough to walk the 65km Overland Track in winter.

Story By Ken Eastwood

In the wild Central Highlands of Tasmania, in a land of frozen tarns, dolerite tors arranged like castles and 1600-year-old pencil pines so bowed by the cold that they grow no more than 1 centimetre a year, an ancient track weaves through green and golden moors of button grass, over snow-laden passes and around tiny alpine gardens fit for fairies. It’s a land of breathtaking beauty, from the spiked pineapple grass growing under gin-clear waters, to the gnarled and broken teeth of Mount Oakleigh.
The beauty here has not been tamed. This is wild, free country where the wind makes even strong men stumble and fall as it howls across the mountaintops; country that will half-swallow adults in drifts of snow and deep quagmires of black mud. Even the giant gum-top stringybarks, their backs burdened with snow and their frames tired after one too many winters, give up and lie down here on the white blanket beneath. It’s country where tiny, tough cushion plants can be covered in snow or frozen throughout winter, yet are fragile enough to be destroyed by a hiker’s careless boot.
It’s dangerous country, too, where the cold can get inside your bones before you can mumble “hypothermia”.

This Story is from Issue #97

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2014