Cradle Mountain adventures

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February 22nd 2021
Published: February 25th 2021
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We woke in Cradle Mountain to another glorious day. We have had beautiful weather during our trip and today was no exception. At about 9am we drove to the Visitor Centre at the entrance to the National Park, parked and walked to the bus stop. Here we boarded the bus which takes visitors to the various locations around the park. We decided to go first to the furthest destination which was Dove Lake. We alighted, signed in and then walked along the boardwalk to the shores of the lake. The scenery was breathtaking having the actual Cradle Mountain as the backdrop and we enjoyed sitting at the edge and taking in the view. We then walked towards Lake Lilla and were able to see the vista of that lake nestled in the mountainside.. But we are not hikers and did not walk far. We enjoyed the lovely fresh air and then went back to the bus stop.

We returned to Ronny's Creek. Here we started to walk along one boardwalk, but the outlook wasn't promising so we returned and then followed a path to an old building called, Kate's Cottage. There were some great views here and very swampy ground. Back to the bus stop and a trip to the Interpretive centre and Ranger's station.Inside there was an historical display of photographs and artefacts from the early days of exploration here. An interesting topographic map showed the position of the various lakes and mountains very well. There was also a great rainforest walk just outside.. We took the path that led to the Pencil Pines Waterfalls. This route zig-zagged through some dense rainforest with thick undergrowth. It was a pleasant stroll and we eventually arrived at the waterfall which was very pretty though not huge. The return walk was not too arduous and then we continued to the bus stop.

We had spent the whole morning in the park and though we were not going on the six day hike down to Lake St Clair, we thought we had seen quite a bit and enjoyed what we saw. Back at the Visitor Centre we went in to the office of Devils at Cradle. This represents a sanctuary for Tasmanian Devils and quolls. For $20 a head we booked an afternoon tour starting at 3pm. That gave us time for lunch and a rest. We returned to Cradle Mountain Hotel where Fletcher managed to get the rest of his results and we had a nice steak and salad for lunch.

At 2-30pm we drove to the sanctuary. This is well set out with the animals in large areas, separated by age and sex. We watched some young ones playing around and saw both spotted tail and eastern quolls. At 3pm, one of the keepers here, Stacey, gathered us together (there were about 8 or so others) and took us to where we saw two different pens each with four or five devils in them. She explained that they were a breeding sanctuary, an "ïnsurance" organization to ensure that the very endangered devils can be saved. They have a selective breeding system, designed to get the healthiest mix for the survival of the species. I didn't realise how short a life span they had; only about five to six years. They breed when they are about three. We watched the baby ones dashing around the enclosure, fighting over a bone and generally being very cute! Stacey was very knowledgeable and gave us plenty of information about the lives and habitats of these rare animals. We then moved on to the quolls. Here Stacey went into the enclosure and brought Wattle, a spotted tail quoll near the glass to show us. Wattle was curled up in her arms, enjoying being patted and stroked while Stacey explained the lives of quolls.

The last stop was at the eastern quolls. These are not endemic to Tasmania and can be found also in Victoria and NSW. There are dark furred ones and golden coloured ones and again are a very attractive animal.They have an even shorter life span than the devils, only living for about three years. They are hunters, while devils are mainly scavengers, despite their fearsome appearance. The tour took about 45 minutes and then we looked at some of the other enclosures. Stacey had explained that devils are the largest living carnivore marsupials left in the wild. They got their name from the redness of their ears when aroused!!

After a pleasant afternoon we returned to our accommodation via Cradle Mountain Wilderness retreat which was next door as we wanted to book in for dinner. There was noone in the office there so we went back to our cabin and I rang them. They had a deal that if you booked in about 5-30 for dinner they would give us a free glass of champagne. Thus we decided on an early dinner. We returned to the restaurant at 5-30 and were shown to a pleasant dining room and seated next at a window table with great views over some interesting trees. The menu looked interesting. I opted for an entree of Tasmanian scallops while Fletcher chose a combination of salmon, feta cheese and chorizo with crunchy bread croutons. We both decided on the duck for mains. The food was great. We actually ate it all. Fletcher loved his entree, even though it was quite large and the confit of duck was delicious and tender, melting off the bone and accompanied by a great cherry sauce. We had a local Sauv Blanc which was a perfect partner with the food. We even decided to go for a dessert, as the Eton Mess proved irresistible. We then retired to the lounge for a nightca pof a G&T. A great night out. We returned to our cabin to watch TV but were startled when I got a phone call from the manager of the restaurant accusing us of leaving without paying. I was upset as we had paid our bill. Fletcher had even spoken to the manager discussing the fact they didn't take American Express cards. He promised to check again but about 10 minutes later he rang back saying he had no record of us paying. I put him on to Fletcher who accused him of trying to scam us. That stopped him a bit and Fletcher said he would check out our Visa statements when we got somewhere with WiFi but would not pay until then. The manager agreed to this, so we left it at that. It spoilt what had been a lovely evening!!

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