THE PENGUIN CRADLE TRAIL: is a much lesser walked Northern extension of it's more famous bro, the Overland Track.
Bumping along the Dial Range near Tasmania's North Coast and then chasing the churning Leven River as it snakes Southward, the PCT rolls over the soggy High Plains between Black Bluff and Cradle Mountain Village, taking you through a mish mash of landscapes and rugged track.
It's wild, it's committing and the great news is that the track is in far better shape than when I last gallivanted along the entire 75+km length nearly 5 years ago.
The North West Walking Club volunteers have really smashed the blow downs and chucked a fuck ton of time and effort into maintaining this uncelebrated, sequestered trail.
Thank you kind folks. 👍💪
GETTING TO THE TRACKHEAD:
Penguin is a small coastal town 130km West from Launceston on the Bass Highway or 300km from Hobart straight up the middle of the island.
Your aiming for Montgomery Road which is 3km South on the left hand side along Ironside Road. If you arrive by bus then this 3km is easily knocked on foot over from Penguin.
If you are dropped off in an automobile by a kind soul like I was then just head straight for the Northern Terminus on Montgomery Road and save the road bash.
|Getting ready for the 2021 version of the PCT sufferfest,.|
NAVIGATION AND INFORMATION:
This time around I opted to use the official Wildcare map and information booklet set.
The notes were pre 2016 but still mostly solid. Available for purchase here. $28
Signage and trail markers are abundant. Exposure is a constant South of Paddy's Lake and thankfully tall snow poles guide the way along lumpy hillsides and through clumps of scorparia.
The North West Walking Club based in Ulverstone has a fantastic run down of the PCT and anything you need to be clued up about including recent re routes. Website.
This is their baby.
|Wildcare map set.|
I faffed about and got a late start on a Friday afternoon after a 3:30pm drop off at the Northern Trackhead.
The forecast was so so for the first few days and absolute rubbish later on when I expected to be crossing the high, exposed alpine area before Cradle Mountain Village.
But forecasts can be wrong, right? Yeah, maybe. Not this time though.
I rolled the dice and I got mighty nailed. Belting winds and constant soaking icy rain.
It was spicy and definitely Type 2 fun in parts.
Friday 1 October. 12km. Wild campsite on old vehicular track near Mt Lorymer.
Saturday 2 October. 25km. 8km from camp to Wings Wildlife Park via the new re route,
then 17km from Wings to Blackwood Camp.
Sunday 3 October. 8km. Blackwood to Taylor Flat.
*I camped a little way up the track, not in the vicinity of Taylor Flat or the Cabins where camping is not allowed.
Monday 4 October. 24km. Taylor Flat to Fourways Campsite.
Tuesday 5 October. 8km. Fourways to Cradle Mountain Village.
|The new logbook on the re-route heading into Wings.|
|It's only 12km of easy walking on quiet roads between Wings and the Leven. No moaning or whining, get it done.|
|Road bash residents.|
- A new re route that cuts out Walloa Creek and the Pine plantation pushes you down a crazy slippery hill straight into Wings Wildlife Park. This worked out quite well for me as I was rolling past at exactly 10am when the cafe opens.
- The track alongside the Leven River is unrecognisable thinking back to the impediments the 2016 flood dumped on the trail. Smooth and fun wandering next to that lovely river.
- The dense scrub leading into and out of Four Ways campsite has been chopped back allowing far easier access. Kudos to the likeable volunteers and there was no ripping off fistfuls of ticks and leeches from my torso this time.
- Stripping off and going for a dunk in the River with all that green, so green forest and bewitching solitude is up there at the top of my list of this year's memorable moments.
- No huts meant no people and another raw experience.
|Signage at Taylor's Flat.|
|Lunchtime at Bare Mountain campsite.|
|This dude is rejoicing in the after glow of warm tea and not succumbing to hypothermia and having his balls drop off.|
|Heading across the Steeler Plains via the River PCT.|
|The water was pumping and my crop of photos take during the last 2 days are slim and of dubious quality. I rarely reached for my phone (which is my camera these days) during the constant inundation of rain.|