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Published: January 21st 2006
with Lake Dove.
Cradle Mountain, located near the north end of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park in central Tasmania is one of my favourite places on Planet Earth. Though not high, about 1545 meters, it has a quiet serenity which allows the consciousness to image itself drifting back more than 5 thousand years and observing the same scene.
The shingled hut in the foreground is called the Boat Hut, though when it last had a boat, I have no idea. Coupled witha small sandy beach in front of it, it is used as a resting place for overland and day walkers. Like so many lakes in Tasmania, the lake, Lake Dove is a glacier lake scoured out during the last ice age which ended about 10,000 years ago.
The orange colouring on the mountain side is due to Nothofugas gunni commonly known as fagus or tangle foot. Called tangle foot by bush walkers because of branches which hung the ground.
Fagus only grows up to 2 meters high. It leaves turn from dark green in spring through to orange in autumn before they are shed for the winter months. Tasmania is the only place in the world where
in autumn turns orange/bronze.
this tree grows.
First inhabitants were aboringines who occupied the area following the retreat of glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Many aboriginal sites have been discovered in the valleys. Evidence of quarries, stone tools and bark huts have been found. Using fire to clear land and attract animals to the new growth has left extensive button grass plains.
Named Cradle Mountain in 1827, the first European to climb it was Henry Hellyer in 1831. In 1911, Austrian born naturislist Gustaf Weindorfer bought land in the Cradle valley. There he open the "Waldheim" as a guest house.
An area of land from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair was set aside as a scenic reserve in 1922. This was eventually expanded to 125,000 ha which became a National Park in 1971. It 1982 it became a World Heritage Area.
Climbing to the top is a popular walk that can easily be completed in a day. There are several paths. On is to follow the shores of Love Dove and the climb straight up the mountain face then walk across it to Kitchen Hut. This is a very strenuous route. The most popular route is
on the shores of Lake Dove.
straight up the scarp on the right hand side to a place called Marions Point. It is a step climb, but from there to Kitchen Hut the track is level and boaded. All the routes pass Kitchen Hut, a two story shingle hut which offers shelter and an excuse to have a break before continuing on the overland track or tackling the Cradle Mountain summit.
Near Kitchen Hut there a many tarn lakes and a type of plant called cushion plant. These are really a collection of many plants and are often seen surrounding the tarn lakes. Relatively large area can be carpeted with these plants. If closely looked at, tiny flowers can be discerned. These plants are very delicate and should not be walked upon.
Lunch at Kitchen Hut over. Time to tackle the summit. All is required is a person of mediocre fitness, though the climb is quite strenuous over some fairly loose ground.
Cradle Mountain is formed from Jurassic dolerite shaped by glaciation from a 6 km ice cap which covered the area during the last ice age. The dolerite forms in a large crystal like structures which can break away forming very loose structures.
is a popular resting spot before tackling the summit.
Climbing over them is like climbing over piles of very large bricks. That added to the step incline makes very a very strenuous climb.
The summit, the summit, we all strive to reach the summit. Time at the summit is short, because now if we wish to be back by night fall we can not stay long and must retrace our steps, back to were we began a complete circle. But the journey home is not without its rewards, things missed, things we had our back turned to in our headlong rush to accent the summit, like this magnificent view or Crater Lake and Lake Dove on our way back to the car park. Once there most make there way for a meal at Pencil Pine Lodge.
Pencil Pine Lodge just out side of the park is where the walkers go to feed up. Perhaps Pepperberry Seasoned Venison Loin is to your liking or maybe a Poached Fillet of Macquarie Harbour Ocean Trout will satisfy your hard earned appetite. And an the end of each day appropriate scrapes are fed to the animals giving visitors a and chance to see possums and the infamous Tasmanian Devil. Dinner over,
located near Kitchen Hut.
walkers retire to the lounge to reminisce of the days walking around a cozy wood fire.
Yes, I did say most, but not all, for a few something still remains, the on coming of the night. When there is no rain, the air is still and pleasantly cold, the long twilight can work its magic. Last of the red abandons the mountain side. Details are gently surrended, the mountain forming an ink blue silhouette against the still light sky. Mountain, sky, water, merge to together in the inky blackness of night.
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