Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast Track

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Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast Track

Postby trapperjohn22 » Thu 09 Jan, 2020 8:28 pm

Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast Track (84.5km)
28 December 2019 to 5 January 2020

The Port Davey Track and South Coast Tracks are considered the introductory multi-day walks to the south west Tasmania region. Despite this, neither track, spanning a combined 155km from Scott's Peak Dam (Lake Pedder) to Cockle Creek, should be taken lightly.

The Port Davey Track does not appear to have been maintained in recent years, and is characterised by significant sections of muddy button grass and overgrown trail. Added to this the trail is quite exposed to the sun, wind and rain. A 300 metre crossing of Bathurst Harbour by row boat is also required.

The South Coast Track, while maintained, remains a difficult walk. The terrain constantly varied between muddy button grass, steep ascents and descents on sandy and muddy and rooty terrain, interspersed with some easier boardwalk and beach walking sections.

Port Davey Track
Overall time: 4 days (70.7km, 30 hours hiking time, average 17.7km per day, average 2.4km per hour).We are both very experienced hikers (8000+km), and having underestimated the difficulty of this trail, this timeframe proved to be ambitious but doable. I would suggest at least 1 to 2 more days for this trail, depending on your experience level. This track is seriously isolated, we only saw 2 groups of 2 during our time on the trail and saw no one else for 48 hours. A personal locator beacon is essential for this trail. I would not recommend this trail as a first time multi day hike.

Section times:
Day 1:
Huon to Junction Creek - 8.4km - 3 hours
Junction Creek to Crossing Creek - 10.4km in 4 hours.
Total: 18.8km in 7 hours (2.7km per hour)
John Chapman time estimate for section: 5 to 8.5 hours.

Day 2:
Crossing Creek to Watershed Campsite - 10.6km - 4 hours and 10 minutes
Watershed Campsite to campsite @ 44.3km - 14.9km - 6 hours and 10 minutes
Total: 25.5km in 10 hours and 20 minutes. (2.5km per hour)
John Chapman time estimate for section: 8 to 10.5 hours.

Day 3:
Campsite @44.3km to Forest Camp - 6.7km - 3 hours and 10 minutes
Forest Camp to Farrell Point campsite - 6.6km - 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Total: 13.3km in 6 hours and 40 minutes (2km per hour)
John Chapman time estimate for section: 3.5 to 5 hours

Day 4:
Farrell Point to Joan Point via boat crossing - 0.3km - 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Farrell Point to Creek with bridge (66km) - 8.1km - 3 hours
Creek with bridge to Melalueca - 4.7km - 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Total: 13.1km in 6 hours and 10 minutes, including boat crossing (2.1km per hour with boat crossing, 2.7km per hour excluding boat crossing).
John Chapman time estimate for section: 5 to 6 hours (excluding boat crossing).

Trail quality: Poor. Unmaintained in many sections, with significant tracks of mud, overgrown trail and blow down. While the trail is generally easy enough to follow, we got lost following the wrong trail in thick undergrowth on several occasions, making for slow and tedious progress. We were advised that the mud wasn't considered to be too bad due to low rainfall in the previous two weeks and could have bee much worse.

Campsites: Generally poor quality. Most campsites were some combination of small (~1 tent), exposed or not flat. The former campsites at Junction Creek, Crossings River and the second campsite at Spring River had either been washed away by floods or were covered in blow down. Opportunities for wild/stealth camping are almost non existent.

Best camping was at Forest Camp (dry), Spring River western bank and Farrell Point (dry).

Water: Water levels were generally low, which made for easy crossings (max shin height). However we had heard that two weeks earlier many creeks were waist to shoulder height, so the creeks levels seem to move rapidly in the area depending on rainfall. There is now a bridge over Spring River.

Weather: Sunny for first two days followed by intermittent showers and windy weather towards Melalueca.

Highlights:
- Successfully crossing Bathurst Harbour 3 times in a row boat
- Views of Western Arthurs
- Views of Bathurst Harbour
- Arriving in Melalueca!

Lowlights:
- Long days on tough terrain
- Lack of decent campsites

Regrets:
Lack of full body hiking clothing between the two of us (e.g long pants, long sleeved shirt) and an underestimation of sunscreen required due to lack of understanding as to how exposed the trail is.

No gaiters due to unfamiliarity with Tasmanian trails. Would strongly recommend gaiters due to the button grass cutting the shins, as well as for the mud and snakes.

Boat crossing:
The 300 metres crossing of Bathurst Harbour by row boat was challenging, even with low levels of wind and currents. 3 trips took two of us 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. We left our packs on the far side which we almost regretted as it began pouring with rain just as we arrived back at the near side towing the second boat and wondering whether it was safe to head back over. Luckily the rain didnt persist. We also found out later in Melalueca from the semi resident King family that they often find all four boats (there are two boats on each side) on one side. Understanding how quickly the weather can turn, it is still quite shocking that people would willingly carry on without returning a boat back to the original side, potentially endangering other hikers lives by forcing them to choose between either swimming (!!) over the harbour or hiking the 57kms back to Scott's Peak Dam on low food.

Wildlife: One Tiger snake, one Quoll, several ground parrots.

Mapping, track notes and safety:
John Chapman - South West Tasmania - 6th edition.
Tasmaps - South Coast walks - 1:100 000
KTI personal locator beacon (essential)

We found that Chapman's notes, while perhaps a bit vague and out of date, were sufficient. This track would really benefit from electronic mapping and notes through an app such as Guthooks.

Transport: Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences shuttle from Hobart to Scott's Peak Dam - 2.5 hours and $95 per person.

Resupply: Food drop at Melalueca for the South Coast Track through Par Avion at a rate of $5.50 per kg. Stored in open welcome hut next to airport. No resupply options on trail.

Permits: $30 for National Parks Pass, acquired through shuttle company.

South Coast Track
Overall time: 5 days (84.5km, 37 hours hiking time, average 17km per day, average 2.3km per hour). Similarly, this represented a challenging timeframe. An extra day or two would have been appreciated and provided more opportunity for weather related contingencies as well as spend more time at nice spots along the trail. A friend with limited hiking experience flew in and met us in Melalueca and joined us for the South Coast Track. She found the 5 day timeframe to be extremely challenging. While not as isolated as the Port Davey Track, we did not encounter as many people on the SCT as I had expected - perhaps seeing 6 westbound hikers and around 15 eastbound hikers including a tour group of 10. A personal locator beacon is strongly recommended, as we heard of

Section Times:
Day 1:
Melalueca to Point Eric - 13.4km - 3 hours and 30 minutes
Point Eric to Buoy Creek - 3.0km - 1 hour
Total: 16.4km in 4 hours and 30 minutes (3.6km per hour)
John Chapman time estimate for section: 4.5 to 5.5 hours (inferred).

Day 2:
Buoy Creek to Faraway Creek - 6.8km - 2 hours and 30 minutes
Faraway Creek to Louisa Bay turnoff - 2.7km - 50 minutes
Louisa Bay side trip - 6.2km - 2 hours and 30 minutes return
Louisa Bay turnoff to Louisa River - 4.3km - 1 hour and 20 minutes
Total (excluding side trip): 13.8km in 4 hours and 40 minutes (average 3km per hour).
John Chapman time estimate for section: 4 to 5.5 hours (inferred)

Day 3:
Louisa River to view just after Ironbounds High Camp - 6.8km - 4 hours and 10 minutes
View just after Ironbounds High Camp to Little Deadmans Bay - 5.5km - 4 hours and 45 minutes
Total: 12.3km in 8 hours and 55 minutes (average 1.4km per hour).
John Chapman time estimate for section: 6 to 9 hours

Day 4:
Little Deadmans Bay to Prion Campsite - 9.4km - 3 hours and 15 minutes (only one crossing of New River Lagoon required as we caught up to someone on their way back over the river)
Prion Campsite to Eastern Prion Campsite - 2.6km - 1 hour and 40 minutes
Eastern Prion Campsite to Granite Beach - 9.5km - 4 hours and 30 minutes
Total: 21.5km in 9 hours and 25 minutes (average 2.3km per hour)
John Chapman time estimate for section: 8 to 10.5 hours

Day 5:
Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet - 9.1km - 5 hours and 45 minutes
South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek - 11.4km in 3 hours and 40 minutes
Total: 20.5km in 9 hours and 25 minutes (average 2.2km per hour).
John Chapman time estimate for section:
8 to 11 hours

Trail quality: Average. It is apparent that substantial work has gone into the SCT, with boardwalk constructed along much of the muddy button grass plains. There were a number of challenging and slow sections due to mud and roots (top of Ironbounds to Little Deadmans Bay, Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet), as well as overgrown bush and blow in others (Prion campsite to Osmiridium Beach turnoff).

Campsites: There is an abundance of campsites along the trail, ranging from average to high quality.

Standout campsites include Point Eric, Louisa River, Little Deadmans Bay, South Cape Rivulet.

Water: Fresh water was generally plentiful and easy to access along the trail. Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet and the Ironbounds had the least water (though there were still sufficient sources). Water levels appeared low, making creek crossings straightforward and low risk.

Weather:
Varied between warm and sunny through to squally showers and moderate winds.

Highlights:
- Views from Ironbounds
- Beaches

Lowlights:
- Quolls trying to steal food bags from tents (and hearing people talking about feeding the quolls...)

Regrets:
Underestimated the difficulty of the trail and as such didnt account for sufficient time to stop and enjoy various spots along the track.

Wildlife: One Whip snake, Quolls, several ground parrots.

Mapping, track notes and safety:
John Chapman - South West Tasmania - 6th edition.
Tasmaps - South Coast walks - 1:100 000
KTI personal locator beacon (strongly recommended).

We found that Chapman's notes, while perhaps a bit vague and out of date, were sufficient. This track would really benefit from electronic mapping and notes through an app such as Guthooks.

Transport: Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences shuttle from Cockle Creek to Hobart - 2 hours and $95 per person.

Resupply: Food drop at Melalueca for the South Coast Track through Par Avion at a rate of $5.50 per kg. Stored in open welcome hut next to airport. No resupply options on trail.

Permits: $30 for National Parks Pass, acquired through shuttle company.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby vagrom » Mon 13 Jan, 2020 8:28 pm

Thanks for this. An update on Tassie's number two walk is really valuable and the costs, particularly so. $95 each to Scotts Peak is quite good. Did you travel down with others?

I wonder if the Old Port Davey is on the patch-up agenda? But it's all pretty fire prone down there.


Edit: Now I see - minimum fare is for 4 persons = $380. And costs equal those for Hob. > Cockle Cockle.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby Twilson » Wed 24 Feb, 2021 12:22 pm

Thanks for the up to date beta. I'm about to give a it a bash starting next week.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby wander » Wed 24 Feb, 2021 3:57 pm

I started the PDT (North to South) 23/12/20 and finished at Cockle Creek 8/1/21.

So a year later than your report.

Over all I agree with your comments on the trail except to say I thought the PDT was in good condition for it and the SCT was generally in very good condition except for a short section on the South Cape Range. But that is looking at from a being familiar with Tas trails perspective. And having done the PDT South to North some years ago and the SCT 3 times plus the 2nd half to get out from the PB loop a couple of times. The new toilets on the SCT are close to fancy having walls and doors.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby north-north-west » Wed 24 Feb, 2021 7:47 pm

Biggest problem with the Port Davey is the overgrowth in certain sections, the godawful mess on the eastern side of the Spring River and a few of the boggiest bits. The South Coast Track is pretty good except that hellish descent (assuming you're heading to Cockle Creek) on the eastern side of the Ironbounds.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby wander » Thu 25 Feb, 2021 12:49 pm

Yeah I did explore thru the East side of the Spring River thru to the next button after dumping the pack and setting up camp on the West side, was worth the trouble to make the next day's start easier. A small bit of circle work may have been done getting back from button grass to the bridge.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby north-north-west » Thu 25 Feb, 2021 3:23 pm

It's not a stretch you want to be doing after a bit of rain.
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Re: Trip Report: Port Davey Track (70.7km) and South Coast T

Postby wander » Fri 26 Feb, 2021 4:05 pm

Spring River to Point Farrell? It was damp to wet when I went thru that section from previous rain. But most of the track is hardened and well drained.

Point Farrell to Melalueca, about 20 to 30 fell overnight while camped at Point Farrell and every bit of the track was a flowing stream or a swamp. Only the swampy bits were a bit tedious, but that in that section they always are swampy and tedious. I think I've been thru that section about 6 times now for PDT, Mt Beattie/Claytons and SWC. So I'm well resigned to it.

New bridges over Spring River, Melalueca Creek, Moth Creek and Milford Creek are lush.
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