Cradle Mountain

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July 21st 2014
Published: July 22nd 2014
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This morning, after a cosy night in our two bedroom unit at the Wilderness Village, Bernie went out to retrieve something from our esky on the front porch. He'd only just stepped out the door when he called me to 'come and have a look at this'. Despite the fact that I only had track pants and a Merino T-shirt on I figured there must be something worth looking at for Bernie to be calling me. There's no way I would have ventured out into the (extreme) cold except to ooh and ah over a Pademelon right at our doorstep. So cute!

After breakfast Bernie had to borrow the egg slice from our kitchen to scrape the ice off the windscreen. Fortunately, following the advice in the visitor folder in our unit, we had left the windscreen wipers up so they weren't stuck to the windscreen!! It was so cold this morning that as we drove out to Dove Lake we discovered that the car's external temperature sensor can show temperatures below zero. We set off at 0° degrees but, before long, the car was showing that the external temperature had fallen to -1°. Brrrrr!

We parked in the Dove Lake car park and set out to walk clockwise around Dove Lake. Although cold the morning was fine and the sun was burning off what cloud there was very quickly. With lots of warnings posted about how quickly the weather can change, we packed our waterproof pants and Gore-tex shells into our day packs along with some water, cheese and crackers and chocolate. Prepared for just about anything (?) we slung our cameras over our shoulders and started walking.

The six kilometre walk is graded as suitable for most ages on a track with a hard surface that may have gentle hill sections and occasional steps. The guide suggests that the walk will take two to three hours. Hmmn, that would be if you weren't stopping to take photos of the truly majestic Cradle Mountain reflected in Dove Lake every few minutes!! With the weather conditions just about perfect again today for hiking we found that we were stopping frequently just to stand in awe and say 'WOW'.

At the southern end of the lake we were lucky enough to see a truly wild Pademelon foraging in the bush. We couldn't see it as well as the semi-tame one that visited us this morning, but it was fabulous to see one properly in its natural habitat. On the northbound leg of the walk we found ourselves walking in full sun; I warmed up so much that I had to shed my puffer jacket. We really didn't need to carry our waterproof gear all the way around the lake! Still, best to be prepared.

Back at Dove Lake car par we had potato and leek soup with crackers and cheese for lunch and then drove back to the Ronny Creek car park. The plan for the afternoon was to walk the Overland Track to Marions Lookout via Crater Lake. The walk started out easily enough on a lovely smooth, almost flat boardwalk. Before long though we were starting to walk on a steady incline up past Crater Falls to the boat shed at the northern end of Crater Lake. About halfway along the north westerly rim of Crater Lake we reached the intersection of the Overland Track and Wombat Pool Track and it was time to decide whether to head back down to the car or attempt Marions Lookout at 1,223metres!

Pointing up towards Marions Lookout I said to Bernie, 'seriously, is that the track that we're going to attempt'? FFS, the track that I could see looked, at best, ridiculously difficult, at worst, almost suicidal. And, of course, we're not teenagers anymore! In Bernie's usual fashion he somehow convinced me that it probably wasn't going to be as bad as it looked.

So we trudged off up the Overland Track which got rapidly steeper and steeper and STEEPER and then we had to drag ourselves up a section with the help of a chain 'handrail' and still we went higher and higher and HIGHER until, finally, we reached Marions Lookout where we were treated to a stupendous view over the entire Cradle Valley landscape and beyond ... and chocolate. It was just as well that Bernie was in front of me and had the chocolate in his day pack. That provided me with just enough incentive to keep me going until I reached the top!!

After eating chocolate and chugging down some water while we admired the view, it was time to climb back down to make our return along Wombat Pool Track to the Ronny Creek car park. Of course this involved lowering ourselves back down the chain 'handrail'. I'm really not sure if that section was harder going up or coming back down?!! Of course Bernie climbed down first and thought it was amusing to photograph me lowering myself down bum first.

As we headed off down Wombat Pool Track I rather foolishly thought that we were going to enjoy a nice easy walk back to the car. Wrong! After heading down for a short while, all of a sudden we were heading up again to Wombat Peak at 1,105 metres. Heading downhill again we encountered the sections of boardwalk and wooden stairs to the south of Wombat Peak that haven't seen the sun since the snow that fell on Thursday. These sections were still covered in ice making them quite treacherous to negotiate.

Despite the ice, we made it safely past Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla and then turned onto the Lilla Lake Track hoping to make it back to the car before it was completely dark. This whole escapade had taken us somewhat longer than the three to four hours anticipated. Still, we thought with dusk falling, that we might be lucky enough to see some wombats venturing out to graze. We had been dodging lots of wombat poo so had our fingers crossed. As we neared the intersection with the Overland Track we saw a wombat. A group with a guide had just passed us so, unfortunately, they had startled it and we only saw its back end scurrying into the undergrowth where it disappeared.

The group in front of us must have been on some sort of a deadline because they very quickly outpaced us, piled into their minibus in the car park and drove off. This proved a boon for us because the two of us were able to proceed much more quietly and with dusk descending there were wombats popping out all over!! I saw more wombats in 20 minutes than I've seen in the last 52 years. I don't remember ever seeing as much wildlife in a National Park on the mainland.

After an exhausting, but exhilarating day we drove back to the Wilderness Village for a nice, hot shower. Before we could sit down and stiffen up we headed back to the Cradle Mountain Lodge to try their more upmarket dining option, The Highlander Restaurant. The lamb racks were definitely more impressive fare than last night's fish and chips at the tavern, but with a price tag to match!

... and I was asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow!!

A whopping 29,035 steps today (19.77km)

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


22nd July 2014

Big day!
Wonderful that you have done so much in those conditions. I have revisited our photos from 2000 on our visit there and the weather was a good deal warmer in Feb! The boardwalk looks very tricky! Our main problem with that area was encountering a snake there. We were so alarmed we jumped which flung the snake off the boardwalk! No idea whether it was a deadly one or just a grass snake, not being one to hang around and study snakes when I run into them! Your photos are stunning!
25th July 2014

I'll take the ice over a snake any day!
Hi Janet, while the ice was quite treacherous I would much rather deal with that than a snake! I think you know how afraid I am of snakes? Love, Tracey

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