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Off-Grid with Tasmania’s South Coast Track

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Off-Grid with Tasmania’s South Coast Track

story by: Anna Sarjeant

If you consider yourself on the rougher side of rugged and on the fitter side of athletic - and you’re prepared to go completely off-grid for nine whole days – Tasmania’s craggy South Coast Track which traverses from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek offers a wild gallivant across Tassie’s most unforgiving terrain. The perfect add-on to your Tasmanian adventure!

You’ll need a high level of fitness, the right kit and a good dollop of humour - for when the weather changes, the heavens pour and you’re knee-deep in mud. This isn’t a frolic with nature, the grass won’t tickle your ankles or spring beneath your hiking boots; this landscape is harsh.

As the original escape path for shipwrecked sailors, the route covertly crosses a weather-beaten environment of vast swampland, mountains, rivers, rainforest and coastline. More remote than any other track puncturing Tasmanian soil, it’s 84km of hard graft. Rough, muddy, uneven and with the constant tingle of Antarctic air whipping the tips of your ears.

But now for the good bits.

Tasmania is undeniably stunning. A breath-taking level of beauty. But it’s suffered an unsettling past as the victim of all mainland jokes; enduring decades of persecution for being ‘slow’ – the kid that could never quite catch up; the one that always lagged behind.

But Tasmania’s all grown up now. And in its maturity its rugged good looks shine through. For all the pimped-up metro sexuality of Aussie’s slick and chic mainland, Tasmania’s a polar opposite, but it’s the roughness and dishevelled appearance that makes this isle so darn handsome. Neither slow nor ugly, Tasmania is a frim favourite on the Aussie to-do list.  

Now back to that track!

You’d be ill-advised to tackle the route in winter, with optimum months being December through to March. To complete the trek in nine days you’ll be walking between 10 and 15 kilometres every day, with a few rest days here and there to stop, recuperate and take advantage of the beautiful en route beaches. There are no huts or people living along the track so walkers have to be well-equipped and self-sufficient, you’ll likely see more snakes than toilets – so much so, be prepared to dig your own toilet hole. As well as snakes (of which most are too shy to be a threat) you’ll come across wombats, quolls, all manner of birds and if you’re really lucky, an orange-bellied parrot.

Melaleuca – where the track begins – has no accessible road route, so walkers are required to walk, swim or fly there. The most popular choice being a short flight from Hobart to the Malaleuca airstrip near Bathurst harbour. From there on in, you’re totally off-grid.

By day you’ll tramp Aboriginal trade routes and by night you’ll set up camp in thickets of forests and beside idyllic lagoons. You’ll take refreshing ocean swims and dusky river dips, cooling off beneath waterfalls and warming up again with the help of a self-made camp fire. So remote is your existence you’ll forget what a car looks like. Well, not quite, but if it’s natural freedom you’re after, you’ve trekked to the right place.

Add the South Coast Track to your Tasmanian itinerary and polish off your holiday with a tramp across this gloriously unpolished land. After a week or so of Tassie’s famed wine, cheese and whisky, you’ll have energy to burn! There are many guided tours available and they’re highly recommended – go-alones are for die-hard hiking types (or SAS soldiers) only.

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