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Hiking The Overland Track

The best-known hiking trail in Australia is the Overland Track, a 65km (40-mile) route between Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair. The trek takes 6 to 10 days and can be tough going in some parts, but is an excellent way to see the beauty of Tasmania's pristine wilderness. You will pass through high alpine plateaus, button grass plains, heathland, and rainforests, all studded with glacial lakes, ice-carved crags, and waterfalls. There are many rewarding side trips, including the ascent (weather permitting) of Mount Ossa (1,617m/5,304 ft.), Tasmania's highest peak.

During the peak season (Nov 1-Apr 30), you must pay a National Parks fee of A$160 adults or A$128 children 5 to 17, as well as the normal park entry fee of A$17 adults, A$8 children, or A$41 families. Only 60 people per day are allowed on the track (34 bookings are reserved for independent walkers), and you must book at www.overlandtrack.com.au or by calling tel. 03/6233 6047 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). Simple public huts (first-come, first-served) and camping areas are available along the track for independent walkers. You may only walk in one direction: Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair.

Cradle Mountain Huts (tel. 03/6392 2211; www.cradlehuts.com.au) runs 3-, 4-, and 6-day guided walks. The full 6-day hike costs between A $2,550 and A$2,750, depending on the season; rates are all-inclusive and include transfers to and from Launceston. You stay in a fully equipped and heated private hut with twin-share bunkrooms, showers, a lounge, a full kitchen, and a drying room. A three-course meal is prepared each night by your guides. Groups are limited to 10, with no children under 12. You must carry your own backpack (about 10kg/22 lbs.) -- but if the weather is good and you have chosen one of the shorter treks, you may soon be wishing you'd gone for the full 6 days! Tasmanian Expeditions (tel. 1300/666 856 in Australia, or 03/6339 3999; www.tas-ex.com) offers a 7-day camping trek departing from Launceston for A$2,095 per person.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.