One of the best hikes in the world
South Coast Track
The South Coast Track is a challenging walk in a region of Tasmania exposed to harsh weather conditions. There are no huts along the track. Track conditions are often difficult. Walkers must be fully self-sufficient, well-equipped and experienced.
- surreal, unique Tasmanian seascapes
- entirely within Southwest National Park
- flying in, walking out, the standard route is 82km (51mi)
- 6-8 days Melaleuca to Cockle Creek
- best months December to March
Why We Like This Hike
- wild, inspiring, rugged
- World Heritage wilderness
- “alpine peaks, pristine beaches, alpine meadows, dense rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest, dune communities, dry coastal forest and more”
- hard core bush walkers should consider adding on the Port Davey Track, an extra 3-5 days
- do Tasmania’s fantastic Overland Track on the same trip to Tasmania
- no booking required
- no quotas on numbers of bushwalkers
- chance to see some of the weird and wonderful Aussie wildlife
- though it’s a famed coastal hike, long sections leave the sea. This adventure offers a lot of variety.
- no roads to Melaleuca, so walkers must either fly, sail or walk in-and-out
- Melalueca is an airstrip with some huts
- many impassable headlands force the trail inland
- traverses two mountain ranges. Steep, muddy climbs.
- long sections of open plains
- many streams to cross. No bridges. In case of flood, wait until the water goes down to about knee deep on the crossing.
- rough and muddy over extended sections
- rough and muddy is no exaggeration. We nearly lost a hiking boot in a mud hole on our one adventure on the SCT
- be prepared for cold wind and heavy rain any day of the year
- walking in winter and alone is definitely not advised
- fuel stoves only
- there are pit toilets at every major campsite. You might not want to use them. 😕
- bushes and bogs, fallen trees and hidden tripping hazards
- treat all H20, just to be safe
- much of the drinking water is tannin stained. Safe, but sketchy looking.
- Tasmania is latitude 40°S, directly in the path of the “Roaring Forties” winds. Hikers have turned back due to wind.
- pack for cold, wet, miserable weather
- hypothermia is a real danger
- store your food securely or animals — especially possums — may chew holes in your tent. Mice and the like may get into your food.
- you might see snakes sunning on the trail. Wear sturdy boots and thick gaiters if this worries you. Surprisingly, not many hikers are bitten. All Tassie snakes are venomous.
- National Park Pass A$30 / person in 2015 (2 months)
- Par Avion ph (03) 6248 5390 is the company most use to fly in to Melaleuca. Contact them for prices. In 2015 Hobart – Melaleuca was A$260 per person (group discount available for 7 or more passengers).
- Par Avion won’t transport your stove fuel by plane. Instead you must purchase fuel from them at Melaleuca. Bring your own (empty) fuel container. They offer canisters, methylated spirit & Shellite.
- If you’d rather take a boat than fly, ask Par Avion. They also coordinate sea transfers to and from Melaleuca.
Walking the other direction risks you getting trapped in Melaleuca without food in poor weather.
Yet another option is to have Par Avion air drop your re-supply at Melaleuca. You could hike in. Pick up your food package. Then hike back out.
There are no huts so you’ll be camping each night. But here’s one itinerary recommended by Aussie hiking guru John Chapman:
|1||Melaleuca airstrip to Point Eric at Cox Bight, 13km, 4 hours|
|2||To Louisa River, 17km, 6 hours|
|3||To Deadmans Bay over the Ironbound Range, 12km, 8 hours|
|4||To Prion Beach boat Crossing, 9km, 4 hours|
|5||To Granite Beach, 12km, 5 hours|
|6||To South Cape Rivulet, 9km, 6 hours|
|7||To Cockle Creek, 12km, 3.5 hours|
Exiting at Cockle Creek you have some shuttle options for getting back to Hobart:
Many simply walk out. Then ask locals for information on the public buses. Or look for others to hire a shuttle.
If this all sounds too complicated, consider signing on with a Trekking Guide:
- Tasmanian Hikes (A$2695 / person in 2020 for 8 nights / 12 days)
- Adventure Seekers
- Australian Wilderness Adventures
- Tasmanian Expeditions
- Great Walks Tasmania
This is a serious undertaking. Dangerous. Signing on with a guide is a good idea for many walkers.
If you sign on with a guided trip, logistics will be organized for you. This section is for independent hikers.
- this hike is complicated. Do much reading and planning.
- Tassie Road Trips offers transport for hikers to all hiking trailheads including the Overland and South Coast Track.
- If you plan to fly in, contact Par Avion weeks or months in advance
- once in Tassie, you need to get your National Park Pass
- most visiting SCT hikers will be traveling to and from Hobart. That’s where you should purchase food and last minute gear
- Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania – South Coast Track
- Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania – Essential Bushwalking Guide
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- South Coast Track by John Chapman
- South West Tasmania by John Chapman
- Bushwalking In Australia 4th edition – John & Monica Chapman, 2003. On-line updates.
- Lonely Planet Walking in Australia, 2006
We love Chapman’s guidebooks. They are available in Tasmania if you prefer to wait until you get there to pick one up.
Best Travel Guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Tasmania
- Tasmania, Australia’s Island Wilderness: Exploring Australia’s Best Kept Travel Secret, 2014
- Lonely Planet Australia
- Eyewitness Australia – DK Publishing, 2003
Be sure to get the most recent edition.
Other Recommended Books
- In Tasmania – Nicholas Shakespeare, 2006
- Secret Tasmania – Philip & Mary Blake, 2003
- The Tasmanian Tramp – journal of the Hobart Walking Club (available in Tasmania)
- 1:100,000 scale map called ‘South Coast Walks’ is available at outdoor gear shops in Tasmania
Best Web Pages
- TasTrails – South Coast Track
- John Chapman – South Coast Track notes
- SouthCoastTrack.com – FAQs
- SouthCoastTrack.com – Walk Notes
Best Trip Reports
- Cam Honan – South Coast Track, 2002
- Sons of the Desert – South Coast Track, 2012
- Our Hiking Blog – South Coast Track – mud, leeches and lots more!
- Greg Spurgin – Bushwalking the South Coast Track Feb 2010
- Evan – South Coast Track, Feb 2007
- South Coast Track – Darrell Grundy, 2010
If you survive, you’ll never forget the South Coast Track. 😐
- December Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.
2010 Melaleuca to Cockle Creek – Irish David Murphy and Bundy. Bad weather.
Click PLAY or watch a Tasmanian Expeditions promo video on YouTube.