This was my first time in Tasmania, and to be honest I had underestimated, or more accurately been ignorant of its beauty.
It only took my best mate and her family moving down there to prompt me to make the trip.
The first of many.
Touching down at Launceston airport with mountains in view was enough to excite my weary body and mind having caught a red eye flight from Melbourne.
In fact, there are lots of mountains in Tassie, much to my delight and the car trip to Cradle Mountain was filled with lots of “oh my gods” and “wow’s” and “what the hells” much to the amusement of my friend. The trees too are beautiful, and tall, And fortunately, there are many of them.
Driving into Cradle Mountain National Park was like driving on another planet. It was so ruggedly beautiful that it reminded me of the Icelandic and Scottish landscapes I had explored and the pictures of New Zealand I had studied – yet something completely unique and definitely like nothing on the ‘mainland’. There was moss ground covering, small shrubs, few trees and small wallabies grazing. It was foggy and spectacular but unfortunately, arriving at Dove Lake yielded no clear view of Cradle Mountain. It was raining lightly, so we chucked on our jackets and headed off for our 7km return hike around Dove lake.
I have to say – Tasmania has some bloody good and well maintained hiking tracks that put most of the Victorian ones I have hiked on to shame. There was some tricky spots, navigating rocks and uneven surfaces, but the track was mostly boardwalk which made the hike a lot smoother. We were convinced we were passing through multiple countries in the duration of the trail; parts felt like Australia, whilst others felt like Slovenia, Wales, New Zealand and even Thailand. There was deep forest sections, small lakeside shores, all surrounded by mountain ranges with lush vegetation.
Slightly damp and cold, we warmed ourselves up at Cradle Lodge over some tea and hot chips before making our way to our cabin for an early night in preparation for an early morning the following day.
Awaking to the sound of steady rain on our cabin roof was both an audible pleasure and a practical disappointment.
We were attempting to hike up the Cradle Summit today and the rain left us uncertain of our plans. After a small discussion, we decided to carry on with our plans and head back to Dove Lake car park and set out on our hike. I had waterproof gear and my friend had a change of clothes, and with the mention of her father in law’s Tasmanian motto “if you wait for it to not be raining to see Tasmania, you probably won’t see much” (or something to the same effect) we had good reason for us to still head off. It was the low visibility that was the reasoning for us to not attempt to go all the way to the Cradle Summit and to get to Marriot’s Lookout would be our more realistic goal. We rugged up and set off from the car park at just after 8am, noting that the weather at least had deferred the tourists and all that remained were other more determined (or silly) hikers like ourselves. We headed off on the trail that would take us to Marriott’s Lookout past Lake Lilla and via Wombat Pools and Crater Lake.
Not 10 mins into the trail and it was already pouring rain. The lovely, well maintained trail was quickly becoming a gushing stream and making good progress of leaving no dry parts of our feet. The weather also meant that we really couldn’t see a lot, and that elusive Cradle peak was obscured once again. We stopped as long as we could tolerate being still in the pouring rain at Wombat Pools, the lookout over Lake Lilla and on the edge of Crater Lake. Once at Crater Lake, and after admiring the two waterfalls coming down the side of the crater that the weather had created, we started our ascent up to Marion’s lookout – the sign stating 25 mins.
The track up to Marion’s was very steep, and in same parts, literally vertical with steps and chains to climb up with which proved both challenging and fun. The further up we climbed, the better the view of Crater Lake and the louder the roar of the waterfalls got.
We were completely soaked and fairly exhausted by the time we made the top of Marion’s and the weather had at this point obscured visibility beyond about 5 meters in front of us – unfortunately yielding no view at all.
A few photos at the top and time to check our phones – apparently this was the only place in the whole of Northern Tassie with phone reception – and we started out descent down an alternative route which was nothing much other than a goat track. And by goat track I mean a steadily flowing stream. We headed down the stream/track with the occasional chain railing for support in those vertical parts, and bit of trekking and stumbling later, we made it down to Dove Lake and to the shelter of the car.
Next stop Sheffield for some phone reception and refuelling for the long drive back to Hobart. I had the biggest mug of Chai while we dried off a bit and regained our strength.