Cicerone is a well known UK publishing house specialising in guidebooks for walkers, climbers, trekkers and cyclists which has pretty much a worldwide coverage. I have been aware of these guide books for a long time now and have come across them in various locations around the world when hiking. Reviewing the new Hiking the Overland Track guidebook was my first opportunity to have an indepth look.
One of the first things you notice about this guidebook is the physical size. It’s relatively compact and small so will fit into your pack without taking up too much space; a minor thing I know but something that just makes sense. Its surprising that more guidebooks don’t follow suit.
As far as the information on the Overland Track goes, this book is set out in a logical sequence making it easy to locate the information you need (see chapter outline below). This first section provides a good history of the areas and enough detail to allow you to plan your trip. It starts off with maps and an overview of the trail, times of the year to walk and also discusses permits and transport which are key issues for this walk. There is also a link to GPX files for those of you into that sort of thing. If you don’t know what that means it’s not critical as this track is relatively easy to follow unless you are walking in deep snow. This initial section which lasts until page 70 is all set out in an easy to read format before building to greater details on each section later in the following chapters.
One comment I would make here is that the sections are rated easy, medium and hard and while this makes sense, particularly when producing guidebooks for the international market, it doesn’t match the current Australian rating system. The majority of hikers are unaware of the current Australian Track Grading System and those that are, on the whole, won’t really care.
From here the book breaks down the trail into seven stages and provides much more in-depth information about each stage. Many people who hike the Overland Track have never done any serious hiking before so breaking this trip into seven stages allows inexperienced or less fit hikers to do this trip without pushing too hard.
Each stage starts with logistical information such as distance, ascent/descent change, maximum altitude and other key pieces of information so you can tell at a glance what the day ahead is going to bring. The text then progresses with general information that helps create a picture and where relevant, relies on photos. There aren’t a huge number of images in this book but those that are there support the text and have a purpose as opposed to being a ‘pretty image’.
There are a number of side trips identified through the various stages and without a doubt if you only have enough time for one side trip then include the Pine Valley option particularly if you are into macro photography. I could have easily spent a day taking photos of fungus and moss all within a 100 square metre area.
The plant and animal chapters towards the end of the book are excellent and provide good descriptions and images that allow you to know what you’re seeing. The animal section covers mammals/marsupials, birds and snakes. Most guidebooks seem to skip the birds opting for just the obvious like snakes so this is a good addition.
The appendices provide useful information like relevant contact details as well as suggestions for equipment.
This is a well balanced guidebook and one I would have been happy to use for our trip. I am also happy to recommend to hikers interested in walking the Overland Track irrespective whether they are new to the activity of highly experienced.
Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please note that our affiliations do not influence, in any way, the independence of our reviews. If we don’t like a product, you’ll hear about it from us!
If you have read Hiking the Overland Track we’d like to hear from you. Post your comment or questions below
$39.99 AUD recommended retail
Hiking the Overland Track front cover
Hiking the Overland Track back cover
Inside Hiking the Overland Track showing an example page spread with an external photo of New Pelion Hut, an image showing the track altitude change, and supporting text that paints a picture
Inside image showing the start of Stage 6 – Bert Nichols Hut to Narcissus Hut. This example highlights the key logistical details of the section, talks about the stage highlights and shows a map of the trip including altitude changes
This review was done with product provided for review by the publisher