Part 3 of October’s Australian Adventures took me to the island of Tasmania, 150 miles south of mainland Australia. If you love the great outdoors like me, then Tasmania is definitely a destination for you, specifically Cradle Mountain. What a beautiful part of the world! This leg of the trip was short but sweet, barely having having 3 days to take it all in. We flew into Launceston, rented a car and drove to Cradle Mountain. We did not have the best weather while visiting, but that didn’t keep us from exploring. October is the beginning of spring there and we encountered a range of temperatures and weather – wind, rain, cold, ice, sleet and even snow. We did manage to get in a few hikes on the walking tracks there. Again, I left my DSLR at home and all the photos here were taken with my iPhone 5 or Fuji X-100S. Here is my visual synopsis…
Here are a few highlights from my time at Cradle Mountain:
Pepper’s Cradle Mountain Lodge – We stayed in one of the Pencil Pine Cabins. When we arrived our beds were turned down and the fireplace was blazing, creating a cozy retreat from the damp, rainy, windy weather. The main lodge itself has a lot to offer. With a friendly inviting staff, big and small sitting rooms, each with large leather chairs and sofas you can sink down into while warming yourself by the roaring stone fire places. This is especially perfect after a damp Cradle Mountain hike. We enjoyed the food at the casual-styled tavern our first evening with a few glasses of Tasmanian wine, a hearty meal beside a roaring fire and the only TV in the whole place! Our second evening we made a reservation at the lodge’s Highland Restaurant, where we had a very fine and delicious meal paired with Tasmanian wines. The Lodge property has many other amenities, which include over 20 hiking trails, a gift shop, tour guides, a spa and even laundry facilities.
Crater Lake Circuit – (5 km) The start of this hike takes you on a wooden board walk over button grasses and a beautiful view of the pristine moorlands and surrounding mountains. Then all of a sudden it changes, and you find your climbing up along the side of a creek with gushing waterfalls and bright neon green moss-covered rocks and trees. After you climb out of the rainforest, you reach a picturesque, rickety old, moss-covered boat shed set alongside the dark calm waters of Crater Lake, which was carved out by glacial ice. From here you can go on to Marion’s Lookout. Unfortunately, the windy, icy weather prevented us from climbing up to the look out. We headed back down to the parking lot and took in the amazing views of mirrored lakes (Dove Lake, Lake Lila, Wombat Pool) and the surrounding mountains. Along the way we encountered a few wombats in the wild. They ignored us and kept on doing their own wombat things. The Crater Lake Circuit is part of the longer and famous, Overland Track (65 km), which I’d love to try some day.
Dove Lake Circuit (5.7 km) – This walking track is probably the most popular hike in the park. It is boarded for most of the way and circumnavigates the entire lake. The hike has three main highlights, the first is Glacier Rock, a huge rock you can climb up on to and get really nice views across the lake. Then path winds along the banks of the lake through myrtle forests, beneath the spires of Cradle Mountain and to the second highlight, the mossy green Ballroom forest, a temperate rainforest that runs along one section of the lake. The third and most iconic highlight is the Dove Lake boat shed which you will see in nearly every sunrise/sunset photo of the lake. The boat shed was built in the 1940s by one of the first park rangers and remains pretty much unchanged. On nice days you can go canoeing on the lake, but it was just too windy while we were there.
Waldheim Chalet – This was the original guest house and the start of Cradle Mountain Park built by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912. They fell in love with what is now Cradle Mountain and built a rustic home here called Waldheim, meaning “forest home”. The house was used as accommodations until the mid-1970s. Today you can visit it as a display of what once was. The house is nestled beside an amazing temperate rainforest where King Billy pines, moss-filled logs and trickling waterfalls abound. The setting was beyond believable and I felt like I had just wandered onto a movie set. I fully expected a unicorn or some sort of woodland elf to pop out from behind a tree at any second.
Devil’s@Cradle – On our second evening we visited the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary right down the road from the lodge and National Park. We were able to see the Devils up close, pet one, learn more about them and see a feeding. They are actually quite adorable creatures frolicking around their dens and spinning in little circles, until you see them eat, then you understand how they got their name. It was all very fascinating and also a little sad too as many Tasmanian Devils in the wild are threatened by a horrible facial tumor disease that is spreading and killing out the population. That makes these sanctuaries very important, so that the Devil’s have a home where they aren’t exposed to this deadly disease.
Stay tuned for the last and final part 4 of 4 of my Australian adventures later this week! Up next, Sydney!