The first thing you notice about this trail-specific guidebook is the compact size and light weight. While I didn’t weigh this book as part of the review, I am comfortable in saying that its the lightest guidebook I own. In fact its so lightweight it came with me on the trail which is a real rarity, hence the slightly crumple pages in the images below.
Typically I purchase guidebooks to help me with planning a hike. In the case of the Tasmania’s South Coast Track, this guidebook is well worth the AUD $19.99 RRP investment. I used this book to help with the planning process and each night on the trail, I did a quick scan of the next day’s travel to see what was ahead.
For those of you who have read my previous reviews of guidebooks you will know that one key bug-bear I have is that many of these books assume you will undertake a trail in one particular direction which is not always the case. In fact, I find it downright annoying when I have to take a guidebook and read it backwards; I just don’t think that way. While the majority of people walk the South Coast Track from ‘west to east’ for logistical reasons, a large number of hikers choose to do this walk ‘east to west’ as a standalone trip or in combination with the Port Davey Track. The ‘dual’ nature of this text means that whichever way you choose to do this track, its an easy read. Speaking of text the descriptions are kept to a minimum but everything you need is there without the excessive padding.
Now for the negatives. This second edition was released in 2017 (five years ago) and since that time, there have been improvements to the trail which is a pleasant surprise when you are out on-trail. The key criticism of this book relates to the quoted travel times and that some appear to be a bit arbitrary. An example of this is the trip from the Louisa River Campground up and over the Ironbound Ranges down to the Little Deadmans Bay Campground. The guidebook quotes 6-9 hours and I ended up taking 11.5 hours. In all fairness in different weather conditions I can imagine the time quoted in the guidebook but on the day I did that section, the descent down the Ironbounds was very slow given I walked down a flowing creek bed for almost the entire time in very muddy conditions. In fact, over various days the weather conditions meant I was walking at 1km per hour or less which is something I’m not used to doing.
God knows how you write a guidebook for a track that is so greatly impacted by the weather, probably more so than any other track in Australia! Even the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service advise walkers that some hikers may find the timings in the guidebook difficult to acheive.
So long as you’re conservative on the times suggested, this guidebook is an excellent planning tool as well as one worth taking with you on the trail as a key resource.
You can purchase South Coast Track Guidebook from Wild Earth
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AUD $19.99 RRP
South Coast Track Guidebook front cover image
South Coast Track Guidebook – page spread
South Coast Track Guidebook – page spread 2
Elevation diagram on the South Coast Track – track example
This review was done with product purchased by Australian Hiker