Thursday, 13 June 2013

Tasmania Day 12: Cradle Mountain

Today was a MASSIVE day and another pretty special one.

We’d talked about having breakfast down at Dove Lake in time for sunrise, but everyone was up early enough to have breakfast and get ready before leaving at 7.30. It was foggy at the caravan park and about half way down to the lake we came out of the fog to a clear morning. We excitedly waited for our first view of Cradle Mountain – and except for the very summit on the right hand side it was free of cloud. There were only 2 other cars at the lake before us and it was about 10 minutes until sunrise. I sat down on some rocks at the edge of the lake and watched the tips and then the face of the mountain slowly light up. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful and as good as I had been imagining it might be. I felt like it didn’t matter what happened for the rest of the day, I was completely happy. The kids played near the edge of the lake and then we sorted out warm gear enough to go for another walk.

Sunrise on Cradle Mountain
Caitlin was great at making sure there were some photos of me in places I enjoyed
Tony had originally hoped that if we had a clear day we might attempt to make it up to Marion’s Lookout, which gives the most magnificent views of the lake, mountain and everything in the whole area. Its quite a climb though and after the Dove Lake Circuit yesterday we thought it would be too much for the kids. Liam  and Millie both get quite tired when walking – Millie can go in the carrier but Liam has fewer options and can become quite discouraged and lose interest in his surroundings. We decided to start with a short walk which could then be extended a few times depending on how everyone was travelling.

Our first destination was Lake Lilla, which sits just near Dove Lake but at a much lower altitude. Millie hopped in the carrier on my back and we set off through more beautiful forest and down along the side of Lake Lilla. When we reached it we found the path went over a cascading waterfall. The kids played on the rocks around the cascades and I even went down onto them so Millie could touch the water. Looking back towards the lake we could still see Cradle Mountain towering above the ridge beyond the lake. In fact I’d been thinking we wouldn’t see the mountain much on this walk but it was hardly ever out of sight.

Lake Lilla with Marions Lookout (the highest peak in this photo) and Cradle Mountain in the background
Everyone was feeling pretty good so we continued on to Wombat Pool, up a very long stretch of stairs. At the top of the stairs we had a view of the two lakes, looking like Dove Lake was hovering above the other, it was quite incredible. Down the other side of the ridge to Wombat Pool, where the kids climbed a tree and we had a bit of a snack.  Liam had had enough by this stage while Caitlin, Tony and I felt like we could go further. We decided that Tony and Caitlin would keep going and at least reach Wombat Peak, further if they felt like it, and I’d take the other two back to Dove Lake and we’d play at the Boat Shed until the others returned.
Dove Lake with Lake Lilla below it
Tony, Liam and Caitlin at Wombat Pool

We split up our supplies and went in our two different directions. As we climbed up from the pool we saw Tony and Caitlin climbing on the other side and reaching a couple of fantastic lookouts. We slowly made our way back, investigating trees and rocks and views as we went. When we reached the Boat Shed we could see people way up on top of Marions Lookout and wondered if the others had made it that far. Liam and Millie played in the edge of the lake and the rocks on the shore and explored around the Boat Shed and I took photos of the reflections in the lake and chatted to other walkers and we all played hide-and-seek.
Liam jumping off a rock on the track to Lake Lilla

Boat Shed and Cradle Mountain

Liam and Millie at the Boat Shed

After about 45 minutes, Tony and Caitlin arrived from the opposite direction than I’d been expecting. They had climbed up to Marions Lookout and come down the steeper path to join on to the Dove Lake Circuit. They were both pretty pumped and I was so excited that they’d made it! Caitlin had been wishing that we could get right over to Cradle Mountain and this was a satisfying enough substitute.

We went back around to the path down from the carpark (which was now full of cars) and I took more photos, we played along the edge of the lake there, Caitlin, Liam and I trekked along the shore to some rocks I’d been wanting to take photos of (it was a muddy track and we nearly got our boots stuck) then we set up on a big rock just of the path to have some lunch. While we were hanging out there in the sun the clouds finally lifted completely off the summit of Cradle Mountain and we had a completely clear view of it. With Dove Lake reflecting the blue sky it was one of the most beautiful and inspiring views I’ve seen. We took a long time over lunch, Tony and I could have sat there all day enjoying the view. It was a very peaceful and restful hour or so.
Lunch at Dove Lake with view of Cradle Mountain
Finally a view of the mountain with no clouds on the peak

Eventually we left Dove Lake (around 1.30pm) and drove back to the Interpretation Centre, which had information and displays on the geography, history, plant and animal life of the Cradle Mountain area. We played and read and watched a video and pored over the 3D map of the area. Once we’d had our fill of the Centre, we headed out to do the Enchanted Forest walk – a short walk either side of a river, with waterfalls, mossy trees and logs, fungi. There were 3 man made tunnels for the kids to climb through, which were painted inside with scenes of animals and plants of the area, along with the names of all the animals.

The Enchanted Forest
From here we quickly popped down to Pencil Pines Falls which was a 1 minute walk from the carpark. They were pretty and a nice finish to our walk. By this stage the kids (Caitlin in particular) were completely exhausted. I dropped everyone back at the cabin and then went back out to do a little bit of gift shopping – and saw 2 more wombats on the way.

At 5pm we headed out again to go to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary just down the road, to see a night time feeding. The guy doing the presentation really knew his stuff about Tasmanian Devils – it was different to other animal tours I’ve done, he wasn’t all bubbly and entertaining, he was there to share information about Tasmanian Devils and the risks to their survival. I learnt heaps. We were able to pat a Devil, and then watch them feeding in groups which was much more exciting than the individual Devil we’d seen fed earlier in our trip. We also saw quolls being fed – I think quolls are my new favourite animal.
3 Tasmanian Devils feeding

We arrived back at the cabin and watched TV, ate a very late dinner, and went to bed as soon as we could!

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