Tassie’s iconic Overland Track is enough of a stunner by itself, but if you want more, there are enough possible side trips to satisfy endless, ‘I wonder what’s over that hill?’ urges. Explorer Brooke Nolan tried out one of the best and spent the night at the Pine Valley Hut.
- Rock scrambles
- Views, views, and more views
- Possible to do without an Overland Track pass
Pine Valley Hut
The Overland Track is one of Australia’s most iconic multi-day hikes, stretching 65km from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. The hike itself is one of the world’s most spectacular, but it’s the infinite list of side trips that make it the perfect place for the intrepid explorer.
Myself and my friend Joelle were around two days into the hike when we first heard rumours of Pine Valley Hut. “Are you going?” people asked. “It’s the best side trip on the track.” Well, how could we resist?
Situated off the main Overland Track between Windy Ridge Hut and Narcissus Hut, Pine Valley Hut has no tent platforms but does have sleeping platforms in the hut and plenty of places to pitch your canvas abode outside.
After a fairly easy 4.7km walk from the main track, we dropped packs, claimed our bunks, and headed off with our newly-acquired friends Deb and Andrea (don’t you just love how easy it is to meet people on the trail?) to The Labyrinth (approx 6km/4 hours).
A steep uphill brings you to an unending maze of cairns and lakes. The views really are something else, and were made even more perfect for us thanks to the clear skies and bright sunshine. Even better – we were the only ones there.
As it was late in the day and we didn’t have any maps for the area, we stayed at the top of the Labyrinth admiring the views below. But we heard later that you can drop straight down to the lake provided you’re prepared.
That night we slept well, despite the warnings of the local ‘friendly’ mice. Luckily for us, they decided not to make an appearance.
Rising early the next day – Australia Day – we picked up our day packs again and headed straight up to The Acropolis (approx 6km/5 hours).
The Acropolis is Pine Valley’s most popular day hike. A mountain standing 1,481m above sea level, it is infamous for its towering dolomite peaks and walls which make the summit a difficult feat for even the most seasoned hiker.
The hike begins from Pine Valley Hut, snaking upwards and flattening out with some duckboard laid by Tasmania Parks Service. It’s pretty easy to navigate with a fairly clear path until you reach the mountain itself. Then, it’s every man for themselves as you choose the best route to scramble to the summit.
Unlike the day before, the skies were grey and the impending threat of rain hung heavy in the air. This, combined with a rock wall that was simply too high for us to climb, saw us get about 20m shy of the top before deciding to call it quits. But it was close enough, and the views back across the valley were more than worth the effort.
A quick lunch break and we scrambled back down just in time for the skies to open. We took a quick break back in the hut before heading to our next and final stop on the Overland Track – Narcissus Hut.
So. Were they right? Was this the best side trip on the Overland Track? Well, there was only one way to find out…
- Hiking boots
- Day pack
- Overnight camp gear
How To Get There
If you’re doing this as part of the Overland Track you’ll see the turnoff for Pine Valley Hut on your right as you walk towards Narcissus Hut, away from Windy Ridge Hut. If you’re doing it in reverse (as Pine Valley isn’t an official part of the Overland Track you don’t need to have a pass for the track) then you’ll need to walk around Lake St Clair or get a ferry across to Narcissus Hut and follow the track from there.
The majority of the walk requires an intermediate level of skill while the Acropolis summit is rated difficult.
4.7km there and back to the hut from the turnoff or further if you come from Lake St Clair.
Approx 6km for each of the side trips.
Very steep ascents/descents to the Labyrinth and The Acropolis.