Mountains, glaciated valleys, pristine lakes and beautiful rainforests far from civilisation - that's my idea of a weekend well-spent. We recently spent a long weekend exploring the Labyrinth and Lake St Clair, a relatively remote part of Tasmania that is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Australia.
Being a relatively unknown and unregulated set of trails compared to others such as the Three Capes or Overland Track, there is a lot of freedom when planning your itinerary - we chose to do it in 2 nights and 3 days, over a total distance of 40km.
Day 1 - Narcissus Hut to the Labyrinth
We left early in the morning and caught the 9am Ferry from the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre to Narcissus Hut. We had a big day planned and wanted to allow plenty of time to take in the scenery as we made our way into the wilderness.
Despite being the middle of summer, Tasmania's weather can throw up anything. Most of the peaks around Lake St Clair were shrouded in thick cloud for most of the morning as we made the three and a half hour journey to Pine Valley Hut.
We arrived at Pine Valley a little after 1pm and set up camp. The hut is set by a large creek in thick rainforest, offering shelter from the variable weather in this part of Tasmania.
With lots of time remaining in the day we set off on the 5 hour return walk to the Labyrinth. The track takes a steep uphill course through the rainforest. It was quite muddy and slippery as a result of the rain. We took our time and eventually reached the Parthenon, a high plateau 1100m above sea level.
Despite our high hopes, the weather was still very unsettled and varied between drizzle and heavy rain so the views were limited, although rain tends to add a degree of beauty to the spectacular alpine plant communities unique to these parts of Tasmania.
Breaks in the weather were few and far between, but clearer patches revealed a stunning landscape dominated by the towering Mount Geryon (1516m) and The Acropolis (1481m). These are such dramatic mountains, and like much of central western Tasmania were shaped over thousands of years by the forces of glaciation.
Spending time in this area made for a really inspiring afternoon, this beautiful and wild landscape leaves a strong impression and a return trip to spend more time here is high on our list.
Day 2 - Pine Valley to Echo Point
After returning to Pine Valley the previous evening, we woke to rays of sunshine filtering through the forest and set out on the 13km walk from Pine Valley to Echo Point. Much of this route follows the Overland Track, although we had it almost all to ourselves as most walkers choose to take the return ferry from Narcissus Hut.
After we retraced our Day 1 walk back to Narcissus, we continued on to Echo Point, a further 5km down Lake St Clair. We had magnificent views of Mount Olympus as we traversed the plains around the top of the lake.
After around 30 minutes, we entered yet another beautiful rainforest. The track is not well maintained in this area so it meant very slow going through some very muddy patches, taking us two hours to cover around 4km. It didn't really feel like long though, the forest was so peaceful and we saw so many unique and beautiful old trees, streams and waterfalls along the way.
We eventually made it to Echo Point in the late afternoon and set up camp by the shore of Lake St Clair.
This is one of the most beautiful campsites I've stayed at in Tasmania - watching the changing colours at sunset as we cooked dinner by Australia's deepest lake was a highlight of the trip.
Day 3 - Echo Point to Cynthia Bay
We awoke to find the lake and surrounding hills shrouded in fog, which is seemingly common weather in these parts. With a delicious cooked lunch in mind, it was onwards to the visitor centre at Cynthia Bay. The walk continues along the lake, meandering gently through a surprisingly varied array of forest landscapes.
We were surprised at how easy this section of the trail was compared with the previous day and completed it in a little under three hours. It was a relaxing way to finish the walk and we made our way back to Hobart feeling tired but refreshed after this great little escape.
Need to Know
Time: 3 Days
Distance: 40 km
Difficulty: Moderate - Hard
Tip: Take the ferry one or both ways, pack light but factor in all weather.