The Overland Track is one of Australia’s most famous and beautiful hikes, through 65 kilometres of World Heritage protected land. It’s six days of difficult but rewarding track, with stunning rock formations and forests along the way. You’d be forgiven for thinking hiking is a budget activity, but how much does it really cost to hike the Overland Track?
I’m going to break down how much it cost me to do the hike and where you can save some money. Keep in mind, it’s a six-day hike, and most six-day holidays cost more than $1000. I’m also working off the fact that you already have your own camping equipment. I don’t recommend the Overland Track for first time overnight hikers unless you’re with someone more experienced!
How much does it cost to hike the Overland Track
|Overland Track Pass
|National Park Backpacker Entry Pass
|Bus transportation with Tassielink
|DIY Camping meals
|Return flights from Melbourne
|End of hike accommodation at Lake St Clair
|Emergency Beacon Hire
|Lake St Clair Ferry
|Pre-trip accommodation (backpacker dorm)
|Miscellaneous expenses (taxis, maps, food at hike ends)
Let me break those costs down for you.
National Park fees ($230)
If you hike the Overland Track between October and May you MUST buy an Overland Track Pass and a National Park Pass. These are two separate items that you can purchase from the same portal here. This is to help with the preservation of this national park and the costs of maintaining the trail. Don’t be the guy who doesn’t pay for the pass. The park rangers do check them at campsites and huts.
If you hike outside peak season, you don’t need to buy a pass. However, given the often unpredictable weather conditions on the Track which can include snow, hiking in winter is only recommended if you are a very experienced hiker and have done the track previously.
Bus transport to the hike $104
The cheapest option for getting to the start of the hike is to catch the bus with Tassielink. Our bus drivers were very friendly and the bus terminal was in central locations in both Launceston and Hobart. The buses only run on certain days, so you need to make sure that your Overland Track schedule matches up with the bus schedule.
If you want to make the Cradle Mountain Summit on the first day, I recommend catching the bus in on the day before you start hiking, to get an early start on your first day. We didn’t have enough time/light to make the Cradle Mountain summit as the bus arrived around 11am. After that, you have to sign in, eat lunch and get to the trailhead, which means we started hiking about 12:30pm.
I think the best option is to catch the bus from Launceston to Cradle Mountain, then Lake St Claire to Hobart, rather than driving back to Launceston.
Ferry across Lake St Clair and end of hike accommodation $160
At the end of the hike, you can choose to catch the ferry from Narcissus to Cynthia Bay, or walk around the lake. The really budget option is to walk around the lake (it’s another 17kms and you’ll probably need an extra night on the trail).
The ferry costs $40, which you need to book well in advance. The early ferry fills up quickly. Once you reach Narcissus hut you need to confirm your booking on the radio.
I took the ferry and spent a night at Lake St Claire Drumlin Bunkhouse for $120 for a two person room, which was simple and clean, with hot showers in a shared bathroom ($1 for 6 minutes). You can get cheaper options in shared bunkrooms for around $45 per person.
For both ferry bookings and accommodation, you need to book well in advance by phone with Lake St Clair Park.
DIY Camping Meals $60
Buying seven days of freeze dried meals can be ridiculously expensive. I’ve started making my own by mixing up supermarket items like spice mixes, vermicelli and freeze-dried veggies with Backpackers Pantry staples like freeze-dried mince and rice. For breakfast I ate muesli and powdered milk, lunch was bread rolls, salami and cheese sticks. You can go one step further by getting a dehydrator depending on how much you go hiking. The advantage of making your own meals is that they’re often larger servings, and especially helpful if you’ve got any food allergies.
Emergency Beacon Hire $40
You can hire an emergency beacon from the staff at Cradle Mountain when you sign in for the hike, then return it to the office at Lake St Clair. I recommend carrying one. Although nothing may go wrong on your trip, it’s better to be prepared.
Make sure you buy a map too! Mine cost $20 from Paddy Pallin.
Wherever you’re coming from, you’ll need to get flights. As usual, book in advance to get the best price. If you’re coming from Melbourne, driving down on the Spirit of Tasmania is also an option, but we were travelling across public holidays and it worked out cheaper to fly and catch the bus.
My extra budget tip: Borrow your equipment
Instead of opting for buying cheap camping equipment, see what you can borrow from friends. See if you can hire the equipment you need. Don’t scrimp on your sleeping bag or tent as it can get very cold at night.
All in all, it cost $939 AUD for me to hike the Overland Track, which works out about $117 a day (totalling an eight day trip). It’s not the cheapest hike you can do, but it sure is worth the money. MONA makes a great additional trip at the end of the hike if you’ve got time to spend in Hobart.
For more information on hiking the Overland Track visit the National Park Site.