South Coast Track

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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.

New Harbour Lagoon

Note: This page is a stub. Suggest improvements by leaving recommendations or links in the comments on this page. Our editors will consider them. Thanks for your help! 

TasmaniaAT A GLANCE

  • 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

New Harbour

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
Padelmelon with Joey

Padelmelon with Joey

quoll

Spotted-Tail Quoll

  • though it’s a famed coastal hike, long sections leave the sea. This adventure offers a lot of variety.

tastrails SCT map

Considerations

  • no roads to Melaleuca, so walkers must either fly, sail or walk in-and-out
  • Melalueca is an airstrip and some huts
  • follows the wild southern coastline but does not stay on the coast as there are many impassable headlands
  • 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

in-the-mud-south-coast-track-tasmania-480x323

  • 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
hail

hail

  • 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

water

  • much of the drinking water is tannin stained. Safe, but sketchy looking.

640px-South_Cape_Bay

  • 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. 
 Louisa Bay campsite

Louisa Bay campsite

  • 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.
Tiger snake on the SCT

Tiger snake on the SCT

COST

  • 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.

ROUTES

Traditional route is a fly-in to the isolated locality of Melaleuca. Then walk out to Cockle Creek south of Hobart

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 when they walk out. Then ask locals for information on the public buses. Or look to join others in a shuttle.

If this all sounds too complicated, consider signing on with a Trekking Guide:

This is a serious undertaking. Dangerous. Signing on with a guide is a good idea for many walkers.

SCT

Logistics

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 some reading and planning. 
  • 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

Local Information

Best Trekking Guidebooks

We love Chapman’s guidebooks. They are available in Tasmania if you prefer to wait until you get there to pick one up.

view from the Ironbound Range

view from the Ironbound Range

Best Travel Guidebooks

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)

Best Maps

  • 1:100,000 scale map called ‘South Coast Walks’ is available at outdoor gear shops in Tasmania  

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

If you survive, you’ll never forget the South Coast Track. 🙂

rainbow SCT

Movies

Click PLAY or watch a Tasmanian Expeditions promo video on YouTube.

Note: This page is a stub. Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

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