I have recently been craving a bit of a physical and photographic challenge to continue adding to my photography portfolio. Thankfully there are no shortage of amazing photography destinations here in Tasmania. I had been asked many times by one of my mates Cameron Blake whether I would be up for the challenge of doing the Overland Track with him but I had always managed to find a reason (or excuse) not to do it. So when the opportunity came up again recently to tag along on one of his Tasmanian Photography Workshops Overland Track Tours, to also do it with one of my favourite local photographers and Instagrammers @jasonlstephens as well as a group of other photographers and adventurers, there was no way I was going to say no (for about the 10th time).
To say that the 65km walk + side trips (we did nearly 100km total) from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair was a challenge is maybe understating it a little. If it was a walk without the 25kg+ of camping equipment, food, photography gear (and lots of it), clothing, water and anything else required for the 6 days, it would have been far easier. But that is part of the challenge of the Overland Track – you need to carry your equipment and be prepared for just about any situation and weather event that could arise in this incredible part of Tasmania. Across the 6 days we faced 60km/h+ winds, freezing cold nights, torrential rain, thunderstorms, snowy paths and mountain peaks, 25 degree+ temperatures, clear skies, intense humidity and so much more.
There are plenty of example itineraries available online so I am going to focus a little on the main reason I was on this trip rather than the day by day breakdown, and that was the photographic opportunities. There is one thing that I will say – you have to work really hard for your images on the Overland Track. There are so many amazing scenes and compositions available across the 6 day trek, but being in many of the “iconic” locations along the track during the much sought after times of “golden hour” would take a lot of planning due to the locations of the campsites themselves. And no matter how much planning you put into the locations, the weather conditions can change and vary so much in such a short period of time that no matter what you do, things most likely won’t work out the way you hoped.
A perfect example of this on our trip was visiting the waterfalls which are generally accessible on day 5 of the walk. D’Alton Falls, Fergusson Falls and Hartnett Falls are all within a short distance of each other, and on a clear day you may be faced with bright skies and “hotspots” on the water which impact the quality of your images. We had the perfect, overcast skies that we were hoping for, but we also had torrential rain which made the already treacherous tracks even more dangerous, muddy and slippery. This made it extremely difficult to access the waterfalls, and even more difficult to get the compositions we wanted. But the effort it took and determination we had to get the shots made it an adventure inside an adventure that I will never forget.
Due to the weather conditions we faced and time restrictions there were a some side trips we were not able to do on this particular trip – the climb up Mt Ossa which is Tasmania’s highest peak was not able to be completed due to snow cover and dangerous conditions. Pine Valley would have added another night onto the trip and is definitely one section I would love to revisit. The peaks of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff are easily accessible during the warmer months, and a bit of planning prior to beginning the trip would make both of these peaks very much worth the effort. There are endless things to see off the main beaten track and each season would provide for completely different opportunities. I would love to see much of this track with snow on it as there are so many cascades and streams with sections that turn into gushing waterfalls as the snow melts and makes its way down stream.
For me this trip was as much a mental and physical challenge as it was a photographic adventure. Seeing this incredible part of Tasmania has opened my eyes up even more to just how diverse and spectacularly beautiful our part of the world really is. We all laughed more than I think any of us have ever laughed before, we faced the physical and mental challenges of carrying our heavy equipment up and down the seemingly endless hills, ate more dehydrated food than I care to think about, got soaking wet from the rain, froze in our tents each night, barely slept the entire trip, got massive blisters on our feet from our shoes and endlessly wet socks, and had to work hard to capture the images we really wanted to capture. But would I do this again – absolutely without a doubt YES!
The Overland Track is one of the best journeys and photography trips I have ever made, and I am already planning on doing it all over again. I want to explore more of this stunning part of Tasmania and challenge myself to capture as many incredible images from here as I can. But first, I think I might need to let my feet recover from the blisters. And I might need to get myself a better pair of shoes.
A massive thank you goes out to Cameron Blake for the endless invitations he has made to me over the years to do this trip with him. Let’s do it again sometime very soon mate.