Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tasmania Day 11: Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is one of my favourite places in the world so today was pretty exciting and special.

The morning was spent sorting out our clothes washing – there was a problem with the machine I used last night and my clothes were still stuck in there this morning, 2 maintenance guys worked on it for a while and eventually we were able to transfer my clothes to the other washing machine and get some clean clothes. The kids watched TV and did puzzles while that was all being sorted out, and it was raining quite consistently so we didn’t feel like we were missing out on the scenery too much.

By late morning though I was ready to go. I convinced everyone else to catch the Shuttle Bus down to Dove Lake as it isn’t far for us to walk to the Visitor Centre where it leaves, and the National Parks literature all recommends catching the bus. The information I had said the bus goes every 10-12 minutes, however when we arrived the guy said every half an hour and we’d just missed one.  We explored the Visitor Centre for a while, then when he said the driver was having a lunch break so it would be 10 minutes later, we bought some ice creams to pass the time. Of course the bus came before the 2 youngest kids had finished their ice creams and the driver said he’d wait for them to finish but everyone was impatient to get going so I put the ice creams in a bag and they kind of survived the journey but the kids weren’t very happy. (OK it doesn’t sound like a very special day so far but it does get better).

Seeing Cradle Mountain again was very exciting, it was still quite cloudy and the peak wasn’t visible, but the lower horn was popping in and out of sight as the clouds moved.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake. Glacier Rock (where we had lunch) is at the middle left of the photo
We set off on the Dove Lake Circuit. Millie was happy to walk on her own, Liam ran ahead and we made our way to Glacier Rock, where we sat in the drizzly rain and had a bit of lunch. I’d seen people standing there as we approached and it looked quite scary – it’s a large roundish rock rising up from the lake – it has a beautiful view and it feels quite exhilarating to be on, I was rather nervous when the kids were moving around on it but we asked them to stay at the back so it was quite safe. Millie walked on her own a bit further and then asked to go in the carrier on my back, she fairly quickly fell asleep. We walked along boardwalks and well made tracks, with varying views of Cradle Mountain and the cloud hiding it then revealing parts of the mountain in quick succession. A little beach off the main track provided great views and some enticing trees to climb. We could have stayed there a lot longer except that we knew we needed to be back in time for the last bus and there was still a long way to walk. The track wound through mossy forests with a huge variety of trees, sometimes through more open land covered in button grass, sometimes through eucalyptus, fagus, king billy pines, pandanis. 
Mossy forest

Having Millie asleep meant we made much quicker time, the other 2 kids walked really well. We even saw a wombat just off

the track at the far end of the lake, at the base of Cradle Mountain. Despite seeing so many at the 1st place we stayed, this wombat was extra exciting and special as he was truly in the wild, not part of a large free-range sanctuary. He munched his grass unconcerned by the crowd of spectators (us and another group of walkers) trying to get a good photo. We crossed some pretty creeks and walked through an amazing area called the Ballroom Forest – a magical, mossy, spacious and breathtaking stretch of forest. 
Caitlin in the Ballroom Forest

Millie was awake by now, and luckily happy to stay on my back (although there was a very long stretch of stairs at one point which was harder work with a 13kg load – it was much smoother going though with her there, able to see everything and comment on it, without having to navigate it herself). We played a little at the boat house, Millie got out of the sling and played as well, then walked for a little while, and then we finally made it back to the carpark – it was listed as a 2 hour walk and it took us 3 ¾ hours – probably the longest walk our kids have done, and we were impressed with how well they handled it, even when they got tired or had a fall.
Family in front of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain and mist. It was drizzling on and off all the way around the lake

It was all so beautiful and peaceful and I loved every minute of it – so great when something I’ve been looking forward to so much actually works out as well (better actually) than I’d hoped. I took quite a lot of photos (I imagine no one is surprised) and will remember this walk as a highlight of this trip and one of the top walks I’ve done. We didn’t quite ever get a clear view of Cradle Mountain but I got plenty of partial shots and we’re hopeful of getting a clear view tomorrow or Thursday.

Cradle Mountain and (faint) rainbow
We were all quite weary by the end of the walk, very pleased to get on the shuttle bus when it arrived – last bus of the day and it was very crowded, Millie sat on my lap so that everyone could fit on – and then walked back up to our cabin (stopping to buy more ice creams to make up for the melted ones earlier on). We’ve had a beautifully relaxing evening in the cabin tonight – some puzzles, some tv, some crochet, some games which involve a lot of noise and jumping and laughing, some experimenting with dropping lollies into lemonade and observing bubbles and colour changes etc – and now we’re all ready for bed.

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