I actually found organizing transport to the Overland Track one of the most complicated parts of my hike. There are a few different options for getting to the start and getting back from the finish, and it can be hard to figure out which one makes the most sense for you.
I ended up taking a private charter bus from Devonport, which ended up being really expensive. I definitely could have saved some money by doing some research on Overland Track transport options ahead of time and booking well in advance.
So don’t make the same mistake I did! This complete guide on how to get to the Overland Track includes:
- Where does the Overland Track start? Where is Ronny Creek in Cradle Mountain National Park?
- Where does the Overland Track finish? Where is Cynthia Bay in Lake St. Clair National Park?
- Public transport to the Overland Track: Is it available?
- Private shuttle buses to the Overland Track: How much do buses cost? Where do they leave from?
- Self-drive to the Overland Track: Driving directions and car shuffles
- Lake St Clair ferry: How to book
- Where to stay near the Overland Track: Options for before and after your trip
Want more info about the Overland Track? Check out my Overland Track guides:
- Overland Track Basics: everything you need to know including how to book, what the weather is like, when to go, and how to stay safe.
- Section-by-section overview: What to expect on each leg of the bushwalk
- Overland Track itineraries: The standard 6-day itinerary plus lots more options
- Side trips from the Overland Track: 10 hikes to peaks, lakes, and waterfalls
- Overland Track huts and campgrounds: what to expect at each site
- Overland Track packing list: everything you need to bring
Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support! -Taryn
Overland Transport Map
If you haven’t been to Tasmania, it might be tough to picture where the Overland Track in relation to Hobart and Launceston. There are also lots of confusing small highways in the Tasmanian highlands.
I made a custom Google Map for you that shows all the locations I mention in this post. Click through to toggle layers on and off to show the various routes.
Where Does the Overland Track Start?
The Overland Track starts at Ronny Creek inside Cradle Mountain National Park. Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre is a 1.5 hour drive from Devonport or a 2.5 hour drive from Launceston.
Cradle Mountain National Park is a remote mountain park that is not close to any cities or towns. There are hotels and lodges nearby, some with dining options, but there are no shops and no mobile phone reception. The visitor centre has a cafe and does sell souvenirs and some hiking supplies.
Once you get to Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, you will need to check in with the rangers, then take a free park shuttle bus 7km to Ronny Creek to start the track. In the summer, the bus leaves very often (about every 10-15 minutes), but at other times of year it runs less often.
Where Does the Overland Track Finish?
The Overland Track finishes at Cynthia Bay on Lake St Clair next to the Lake St Clair Lodge. Lake St Clair is in the central highlands of Tasmania. It’s 2.5 hours from Devonport, 2.5 hours from Launceston, and 2.5 hours from Hobart.
Lake St Clair is in a remote area and is not close to any cities or towns. The only businesses are the Lake St Clair Lodge next to the end of the track and the pub at the Derwent Bridge Hotel, 5km away.
The Lake St Clair Lodge has a cafe called the Hungry Wombat that is popular with hungry hikers finishing the Overland Track.
Public Transport to the Overland Track
As of 2023, there is no public transport to the Overland Track.
Until 2019, Tassielink had bus service to Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, but that service is discontinued. You may find older info online about people taking a public bus to the Overland Track. Unfortunately that is no longer possible.
Private Shuttle Buses to the Overland Track
Many private companies offer bus or van service to and from the Overland Track. Most of the companies leave from Hobart or Launceston but you can get buses from Devonport too.
Service is more frequent in the summer. Cradle Mountain National Park maintains a list of all companies offering transport to the Overland Track.
Some companies have scheduled services during the summer months. All the companies offer on-demand charter service, but it can be much more expensive than scheduled service.
Most bus companies require a minimum number of passengers to make the trip, but if you book well in advance, they will try to match you up with other groups to fill the bus.
If they don’t have the minimum number of passengers booked on the day you want to go, you can pay the fare for the minimum number in order to make the trip to go ahead. On my trip we were the only walkers leaving for Devonport so we had to pay the minimum charge for 3 passengers, even though there were only 2 of us 🙁
Launceston is the most popular place to get a bus, which makes it the least expensive since it is the easiest to fill a bus.
For prices and schedules, contact the transport companies for a quote. In general, prices start at $87.50/person/each way and go up from there. If I had known how much extra my trip from Devonport was going to cost, I might have chosen to travel to Launceston and get a bus from there.
Private bus companies can also sell you stove fuel and other supplies if you arrange it ahead of time.
Self-Drive to the Overland Track
If your group has two vehicles, you can do a car shuffle, leaving one vehicle at each end of the Overland Track. However, driving between Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain takes about 3 hours each way on winding mountain roads, so it’s time consuming.
If you have only one car you could leave it at Lake St Clair, then take a private bus to Cradle Mountain to start the Overland Track. However, private bus service between Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain is not very common.
Unless you have a large group and can arrange a charter, you will most likely have to take a scheduled private bus to Launceston, then transfer to another bus to Cradle Mountain.
In most cases it’s cheaper to leave your car parked in Launceston and take the bus both ways.
If you want to hire a car, the easiest places to do that are Hobart, Launceston, or Devonport. I use Discover Cars because it lets you compare prices from lots of different companies, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.
Lake St Clair Ferry
Many people choose to take the ferry across Lake St Clair instead of walking the final 17.5 km along the side of the lake.
The ferry is privately operated and runs three times a day in the summer. Service is less frequent at other times of year and may stop entirely in the winter.
The ferry runs between Narcissus River (near the Narcissus Hut) and Cynthia Bay near the Lake St Clair Lodge.
Call ahead to book as it does fill up in busy season, especially the midday sailing. If you didn’t book ahead, you can call the Lake St Clair Lodge from the radio in the Narcissus Hut to ask about availability. As of 2022 the ferry costs $55/person for the 30 minute trip.
The ferry will also stop on request at Echo Point. It is best to arrange this in advance. But there is a sign you can raise at the Echo Point Jetty to signal to the operator that you want to be picked up.
You will have to put your packs in a pile at the front of the ferry and you won’t be able to access them during the ride. Make sure you grab your camera before getting on board. You may also want a jacket since it can be windy on the lake. The ferry is enclosed, but it isn’t very warm.
Where to Stay Near the Overland Track
Since the Overland Track starts and finishes in remote locations, you may want to stay overnight nearby before or after your trip.
The first day of the track is difficult, so staying in Cradle Mountain the night before can help you get started nice and early. As well, it’s stressful to rush to meet your bus on the last day, so why not stay in a warm bed that night, then get the bus the next day.
There are a few options for camping, cabins, and hotels near the Cradle Mountain National Park entrance:
- Cradle Mountain Discovery Caravan Park: Camping and cute rustic cabins across from the visitor center.
- Cradle Mountain Waldheim Cabins: Rustic cabins in the park near the Ronny Creek trailhead.
- Pepper’s Cradle Mountain Lodge: Famous luxury lodge with a spa at the park entrance.
- Cradle Mountain Highlanders: Secluded self-catering cabins near the park entrance.
- Cradle Mountain Hotel: Four-star hotel and restaurant near the park entrance.
- Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village: Self-contained chalets and bar near the park entrance.
At Lake St Clair, Overland Track walkers have a few choices:
- Fergy’s Paddock campground: Free national park campground with no toilets or water.
- Lake St Clair Lodge: Luxury lodge and restaurant located right at end of the track.
- Lake St Clair Tourist Park: Camping and dorm-style bunkhouses next to the lodge.
- Derwent Bridge Chalets: Self-catering chalets in Derwent Bridge, about 5 km from Lake St. Clair.
I hope you’re reading this well in advance of your trip. Now that you know how to get to the Overland Track, make your booking ASAP. (So you don’t end up paying way too much money the way I did!)
MORE OVERLAND TRACK POSTS:
- The Ultimate Guide to the Overland Track in Tasmania
- Overland Track Section-by-Section Overview
- 6-Day Overland Track Itinerary (Plus More Itinerary Options)
- The Complete Guide to Overland Track Huts and Camping
- Your Guide to All the Overland Track Side Trips
- Overland Track Packing List: Everything You Need to Bring