review of 'The Overland Track, Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair: A complete guide to walking, flora, fauna and history' by Warwick Sprawson, Red Dog Books (2010), softback, 188 pages ISBN 9781742035116
Ratkowsky, DA, review of 'The Overland Track, Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair: A complete guide to walking, flora, fauna and history' by Warwick Sprawson, Red Dog Books (2010), softback, 188 pages ISBN 9781742035116, The Tasmanian Naturalist, 135 pp. 116-117. ISSN 0819-6826 (2013) [Non Refereed Article]
The Overland Track, Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair: A Complete Guide to Walking, Flora, Fauna and History by Warwick Sprawson, Red Dog Books (2010), softback, 188 pages (ISBN 9781742035116) REVIEWED BY: David Ratkowsky, 20 York Street, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005
This book is of a very convenient size (184 x 126 mm) to be placed in the
backpack of anyone doing Tasmania’s iconic Overland Track. It is divided into
seven unequal parts, the largest being the Track Notes of Part 5, comprising 53 pages of notes arranged in the most common hut-to-hut sequence that walkers would use in doing this 6–7 day trip. These notes describe the features of each day’s walk, and detail the various side trips that are available in each trip section. Even those walkers who have no interest in natural history are likely to find valuable information in those 53 pages and in the map inserted into the inside back cover. There are c. 12 pages on history and geology, but the 37 pages on the flora and 30 pages on the fauna are the ones likely to appeal to those who will buy the book for its natural history content. Other parts of the
book include information on the equipment, water and food that walkers intending to do the Overland Track should take with them, and there are also some pages detailing the transportation and accommodation options getting to and from the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park.
Of course, a book of this size can make no pretensions at being complete, and the section devoted to the flora (Part 6) deals with only 65 plant species out of an estimated total of more than 450 growing within the national park. These are arranged into five simplified vegetation communities: alpine/subalpine, buttongrass moorland/heath, eucalypt forest, grassland and rainforest. This has the benefit of aiding the walker in identification (provided, of course, that walkers can classify the communities they walk through) but it has two downsides, one being that some species grow in more than one of the communities,
and the other being that species of the same genus are often far apart from each other in the guide. Nevertheless, good photos have been used to illustrate the species, and the currently accepted common names for Tasmanian plants have been used in all cases, which is much to be commended.This omission is not surprising, as ‘creepycrawlies’ and the like are often overlooked, but since beetles account for more than a quarter of all known species of plants and
animals on this planet, and since there are about as many species of ants as there are birds, some enthusiasts for these life forms may be disappointed. However, perhaps to compensate, there is a page on fungi (including a slime mould) and a few additional photographs of fungi dispersed throughout the book.
The book was originally published by Red Dog Books in 2010, but can be purchased
for $19.95 directly from the author’s website http://www.overlandguide.com.
Anyone contemplating walking the Overland Track will find the book to be a
useful companion for the journey.