This book, as it says on the cover, is a complete guide to walking, flora, fauna and history of the Overland Track. Oodles of information is included, not just the details about the walk itself, but also useful suggestions for transport options to get to the track start near Cradle Mountain, getting away from the track at Lake St Clair, as well as accommodation choices at either end of the track.
Advice is give on just about every aspect of this walk, such as highlights along the way, options of independence or with a tour, when to go, taking children, recommended clothing and water and food to take, the huts and camping facilities on the walk. There is also a section on the potential hassles and dangers that could be encountered, which includes what to do in case of an emergency resulting from problems such as falls and hypothermia, and warnings about wildlife such as food raiders and flies, leeches and ants.
Sprawson records with a sense of humour and some excellent images of the amazing views found along the track when not shrouded in cloud or fog.
Undoubtedly the best (and biggest) part of the book is about walking the track itself. This is divided into proposed route sections, separated by time, distance to the next hut and possible sidetrips, also with distance and time and difficulty of conditions to be encountered. With excellent maps for each day’s walk, one of which is a vertical profile, Sprawson continues with a detailed analysis of track conditions, creeks to cross and vegetation communities through which the track passes.
Not content with this amount of detail, Sprawson has also included chapters on the flora and fauna of the region. The flora section includes descriptions of 65 plants that grow near the track, grouped into five vegetation communities. For each species there is a photograph, accompanied by details about size, flowering time, foliage, fruit and habitat/distribution.
The fauna chapter covers mammals, snakes and birds. For mammals details include description, size and weight, behaviour, diet, droppings (as these might be more obvious than the species itself), habitat and distribution, while birds include information on their calls and behaviour.
The Overland Track is a wonderful guidebook. It is invaluable if you are planning such a trek, inspiring if you are thinking you might like to have a go, or just a very interesting read for those not so adventurous.
– Anne Morton, The Victorian Naturalist, Feb 2015