In the centre of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park stands the highest summit of Tasmania; Mt Ossa. With incredible views of all mountains found in the park, this was one ascent we simply had to tackle during our stay in Tasmania.
We were told that there is not much point struggling your way to the top if the weather was anything less than pristine, so we decided to skip the ascent during our hike on the Overland Track and leave it for a better day. When forecasts predicted a weekend with crystal clear skies, we made our move. Bags were thrown in the back of our car and about 5 hours later, we were standing at the start of the Arm River Track.
ARM RIVER TRACK
The Arm River Track has to be a little gem, mostly known to locals only. It starts at the end of a long dirt road from Mole Creek and finishes at New Pelion Hut, the centre resting spot for Overland Trackers. After a steep climb for the first 45 minutes, the track pretty much flattens out to a very enjoyable walk with views of the mountain range and wombat-clad heathland.
To get to the start of the Arm River Track, take the Bass Highway from Launceston and head towards a town called Mole Creek. Past Mole Creek, turn left onto the Mersey Forest Road and keep an eye out for tiny Maggs Road which is your next turnoff. Keep following Maggs Road to the end and keep an eye out for the tiny car park which is approximately located where Maggs and Arm Road meet. This is the start of the Arm River Track.
NEW PELION HUT
Staying at New Pelion Hut is something any visitor to Tasmania should do. With possums trying to sneak inside the hut any chance they get, pademelons foraging underneath the decks and wombats grazing in the plains, this is a wildlife paradise. Not to mention the numerous day trips that can be taken from the hut, you could easily spend a week and still explore something new each day.
The dorms inside the hut however are rather large and the tent platforms are a bit cramped. If weather allows it, we recommend sleeping on the deck! The sunrise waking you up to the morning lights hitting frosty shrubs, is a pretty darn good way to start the day. Just make sure you store your pack inside as the possums are very cheeky and can open zippers.
CLIMBING MT OSSA
Once morning came we were on our way to Pelion Gap, the start of our ascent to Mt Ossa. If you are walking the Overland Track, dump your pack on the platform and take only the essentials to the top of Tasmania.
The ascent to Mt Ossa is a medium grade climb. Aside from a few steep sections, the whole walk was fairly easy with plenty of mossy beds to sit your tired butt down and enjoy the view, which are still pretty amazing even when you’re only halfway.
Towards the top, we found a steep ice flow, which I imagine must get dangerous to cross in winter. If you do decide to make the trip in colder months (which will most likely look even more breathtaking with all the snow-capped peaks that surround Mt Ossa) make sure you’re prepared for some mild ice climbing with cramp-ons and poles.
As a return trip from New Pelion Hut, expect to be on the move for about 5-6 hours and certainly don’t forget to add a bit of estimated time so you can gawk at view for a while.