Cradle Huts sent detailed information, a gear check list and Launceston was the meeting place. Launceston is a small city (approximately 103,000) in the North of Tasmania. It is the second largest city in Tasmania after Hobart (the State capital). A very small, provincial city with friendly people.
We settled in at the Penny Royal Motel (with its own Gunpowder Mill, a windmill, cornmill and Jolly Miller Tavern (a mini-motel theme park), made arrangements to check in with Cradle Huts for a final briefing and pick up the rented gear. The Penny Royal Motel was the closest accommodation to Cradle Huts.
Our guide, Ian, (a very young, extremely fit person) did a gear check and introduced us to the only other trekker on this particular departure, Chris, an air traffic controller from Townsville. It seemed that we had a private trek for the three of us, no one else had signed up. How nice! Ian explained all the ins and outs of the Overland Track with a lot of emphasis on the weather. More people die of hypothermia than anything else in the Park every year. They don’t go out prepared for the extreme weather changes and even though we would be staying in cabins, Ian still carried a full pack with a tent – just in case. ex-Marine and I also found it extremely depressing when Ian said he could RUN the entire 65km in a day if there was an emergency! Once we started hiking at Ronny Creek, there would be no further telephone communications until we reached Lake St. Clair, six days later and whatever we needed for the six days had to fit in our backpack.
The average walking time would be 5 hours each day; one rest day; and the track was rugged. A two and one-half hour drive early the next day would bring us to Cradle Mountain.
Jet lag…sleep…and up at 6:00am the next day…ready to go…
(In case you are curious about the photos in these Tasmania articles, ex-Marine and I were much younger, thinner and he had more hair! Yes…these photos are really of us…)