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Published: March 14th 2010
Day 307 - Cradle Valley
Surprisingly enough neither of us were feeling an ill effects after yesterday’s efforts. It was a chilly old night but we’d managed to keep warm and this morning were ready to do it all again without any of the expected aches and pains.
It feels much colder today and the outlook isn’t half as bright as it was yesterday. A hot shower at least gets us warmed up and a couple of extra layers will hopefully keep out the cold during the walk.
We’d decided to travel up to Ronny Creek under our own steam rather than taking the shuttle bus. There had been plenty of car park spaces left yesterday and we’re setting off earlier today so didn’t anticipate any dramas and luckily we didn’t find any.
We registered our walk before setting off up the Horse Track towards Marion’s Lookout. This is the ‘easy’ route to the Cradle Mountain summit and also meant we were able to minimise the amount of duplication we would be doing from yesterday’s walk. It was a long, slow steady climb to Crater Peak where the wind was howling through and in the distance the
National Park walks
Might be too small to make out but today we followed the horse track to Marion's Lookout and then came down the 'rough and steep' track onto the Dove Lake Walk. Yesterday we went up via Wombat Pool and then over Hansons Peak.
mist was still hanging over Smithies Peak, so much so that we couldn’t actually see the top first thing. It was amazingly chilly, all of us were wrapped up warm with beanies on our heads and I even had my spare socks on my hands as gloves! What a contrast from yesterday when we’d really sweated it out.
We find the highest point on Crater Peak for a group photo and then continue our walk through to Marion’s Lookout. On the way we met a threesome starting out on the Overland Track, 2 gents and a lady. Their backpacks were enormous, 22kg they weighed. Crikey, that takes some full on determination to walk the 80.5km track with that on your back! The weather was still grim at this point but the group didn’t have too far to walk til they reached their destination for tonight as they were headed for the hut at Lake Rodway, a mere couple of hours hike away.
A crowd had gathered to enjoy the view on Marion’s Lookout so there were plenty of people to pass the time with. Jane & Tony found another couple from Orange while we chatted to a couple
from Melbourne with a holiday home in Tulluh. They’ve certainly picked a good spot, Tulluh is just beautiful.
The four of us also chatted to a German couple we’d half met last night in the camp kitchen. Herbert had been coming in and out to cook a pile of toast. Today he and his beautiful girlfriend Elina are thinking of tackling the summit climb. Smithies Peak is still shrouded in mist as we gaze up towards it, the weather is chilly but Jane is convinced better weather is on the way. Herbert suffers from vertigo so doing the climb is a big ask but he’s prepared to give it a go and we wish them all the best as they head off towards Kitchen Hut.
The next stage of our day was rough, steep but thankfully all downhill. There were chains galore to assist with the climb down to the west side of the Dove Lake walk. It took us a while but not as long as it was going to take the few people who had chosen to climb up to the lookout this way and two of them had huge backpacks. The young lady we met
first was not a happy camper, her boyfriend was a short way behind her and clearly the wedding plans had been thrown into jeopardy already! You have to be slightly mad or extremely fit to climb up that track when there are other alternatives, especially laden down with camping equipment!
I had thought the undulating terrain would be behind us when we reached the Dove Lake walk but I’d got that wrong! Still, in the grand scheme of things it paled into insignificance and we made our way to the beautiful old boat house on the edge of the lake.
Ah the boathouse, there’s a lovely lady that is longing for a photograph of the boathouse. Carol and Ray, whom we met back in Uluru, visited Tasmania a while ago and Carol came home not having a photo of it. Well let’s put that right Carol, the ones we took today are especially for you!
We stopped in this picturesque spot for lunch, just spending some time looking at our surroundings and reminding ourselves of how lucky we are. We’re trying not to think of our time away from home as being ‘nearly over’ but to look
at it as more holiday left in front of us than most people get in a year. It’s working well so far!
Not to put too finer point on the reason for our next move but both myself and Jane needed a little trip to the ladies, bush weeing isn’t a problem but only bears poo in the woods! That said we headed in the direction of the car park which had the closest amenities.
That meant our walk around Dove Lake took us in an anti-clockwise direction, past the Glacier Rock lookout, past the couple of secluded beach spots and on through the woodland. There are signs everywhere telling us that part of the walk is closed off at the 3.5kms mark. It’s closed due to maintenance work being carried out and therefore you have to turn around and walk back the way you’ve come. However, we’ve been told by a few people now that it’s just a minor inconvenience and to do the walk anyway. By ‘minor inconvenience’ they mean they’ve ignored the signs and found a way through. That sounded like something we could do so we continued onward, undeterred by the number of people
walking towards us with warnings of the walks closure. We were quite bold with our statements of denial and how others had told us that it was possible to get through. A group of Asian lads were very explicit in their explanations but we were equally insistent of our intentions to complete the walk in full, in one direction. And then we heard it, the sound of an electric saw. But it couldn’t be, it’s a Saturday and it’s nearly three in the afternoon. Apparently in Tasmania there is no rest for national park maintenance workers, particularly when ‘ignorant, rule flouting tourists’ are involved. Darn it! We got to the point where the sign clearly said ‘Track closed for maintenance’ followed by another on the floor saying ‘Authorised persons only beyond this point’. We sat on the conveniently placed steps and considered our next move. It was getting late on a Saturday afternoon, they’d have to knock it on the head soon so we wondered if we could wait it out. We imagined finding wombats in hard hats helping tassie devils with the carpentry work for the new boardwalk section or perhaps just an Ipod with the noises of machinery
playing over and over to keep out the tourists who thought they knew better. Whatever it was it worked on us, eventually, and we decided to return the way we’d come. Darn, it meant we would miss out on the Ballroom Forest section of the walk but there was no way around it without being reprimanded as fools!
The walk back didn’t take us half as long as it did on the way in. After the 3rd conversation with other tourists that went ‘You do know the walk is closed and you can’t get through’ we decided to just smile and keep walking or we’d be repeating ourselves for the next hour or so as others had done with us!! The little Echidna we’d spotted on the way in had found a better hidey hole and there were still no obvious signs of Wombats.
We caught the shuttle bus from Dove Lake back to Ronny Creek. Again we didn’t have to wait more than a second before it came into view. It’s a great service.
At Ronny Creek I hopped in to sign us off from the walk and got chatting to a group doing the same.
I joked that I was reluctant to leave the area without seeing a wombat and they pointed me in the direction of the boardwalk we’d followed this morning saying there was one no more than 400 meters up on the left hand side. My smile beamed and I was really chuffed when Dar decided he’d like to have a look too so despite the lengthening day we were all soon strutting up the boardwalk to have a look.
Dar pointed to a rock asking ‘Is that it?’ to which I said ‘No, that’s a rock’ but then it moved and I could see he was right, he’d found a big, cuddly, hairy wombat. He was quite far out from the boardwalk so I carefully picked my way across to get a better look at him. He didn’t seem bothered by my presence at all and carried on munching the grass. It was so awesome to see one close up, they’ve got the prettiest of faces.
On the boardwalk going back to the car we spotted a few more and then on the drive out Dar spied a Mother and baby. They were just gorgeous and the little baby
seemed to bumble around a bit even rolling down the hill when it lost its balance, very cute!
The last of our walks in this magnificent national park were the Pencil Pine Falls walk and then the very pretty (and educational!) Enchanted Walk. Both were worth the effort and rounded our day off nicely.
We made ourselves at home in the camp kitchen again for dinner and while Jane & I caught up with emails, the boys mastered a magnificent feast with some more of our free Tuna.
It was busy in there tonight and the lovely German couple were the highlight of everyone’s night. They’d made the most fabulous effort of climbing Smithies Peak, what a great achievement for somebody who suffers from vertigo but it was now their culinary skills capturing everyone’s attention. For two hours they cooked their dinner, Spaghetti Bolognese. Two hours!! Crikey! We had a really good giggle with them and before we left we swapped addresses and very much hope to catch up with them over Christmas as we’re intending to visit the festive markets near their home.
It was bitterly cold outside but nevertheless we were still keen to
seek out a Tassie Devil. Elina & Herbert have a camp spot that backs onto the BBQ and they’ve seen devils every night just by sitting on the step of their camper van. We sit out by the BBQs for a while but nothing seems to be about tonight, perhaps it’s even too cold for them. We have quite an extensive tour around the campground but eventually give up and cave in for the night.
Dar and Sar
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