We headed off to Cradle Mountain, eagerly anticipating ancient rain forest and World Heritage Wilderness. Some of the plants in the Cradle Mountan – Lake St Clair National Park are ancient and land forms are a result of glacial action. The land was undulating farmland at first, surrounded by silhouettes of far-off mountain ranges. We made a stop at Chudleigh honey farm (it’s a shop) on the way. I have never had such a delicious honey and nougat experience. Make sure you stop and sample. Good facilities in the town – most towns have public toilets available, but some are not well-kept. Chudleigh has a few buildings in one street, but is interesting and a place to stretch your legs.
We pressed on to Cradle Mountain and to the visitor centre, where we redeemed our parks pass (bought through the RAA and covering all parks in Tasmania for 1 year) and waited the 30 seconds for a shuttle to take us up the mountain. The road is single-laned, so much easier to get on the bus, and off, if you work out your trek beforehand. The visitor centre rangers are great at assisting people to work out the best trail.
As it is popular and takes about 2 hours, we decided to do the Dove Lake circuit. That would bring us back by 4pm and then to our accommodation at Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain (across from the Visitor Centre). The walk is easy. We went clockwise, making the upward sections when we were fresh. Great views are to be had across the lack, in the forests and from Glacier Rock. I have since read that a device is available to those in a wheelchair that enables them to complete the Dove Lake walk, if they give reasonable notice.
The forest is ancient and it looks it. I felt as if we were on set in a Lord of the Rings movie. Beautiful, damp and green, the forests give way to surprising changes in terrain and the river runs along beside forested sections, with the lake on the other.
At the northern end of the walk there is an old boat shed, leaving walkers to wonder who had built it and for what purpose, although I sought information later and discovered it was built by the first ranger in 1940.
Being late in the afternoon, and pretty cool up in that altitude, we decided to leave the other walk for the next day and headed for the Discovery Park, after a brief stop to admire the ‘tame’ wombat that children were patting as it munched away on nearby grass.
The cabin at the park was simple but had everything we needed – linen, towels, toiletries and a quick heater. The cooking facilities enabled us to make something more substantial than a cheese sandwich or noodles.
On the topic of food – we discovered Uncle Tobys creamy honey oat packs – just add hot water and mix.
The park had a comfortable and homely camp kitchen with not one, but two, raging log fires. There was ample room for families or singles and several cooking devices to use. We went for a walk at night and there was little light, so take a lantern.
NEXT DAY: We did the Enchanted Walk and Pencil Pine walks, driving the short distance to the ranger’s station, from where they began. Both walks took us an hour in total, but if you didn’t stop for photos you could do them in 30. There was ice on the Enchanted path at 8am and steam coming off the trees. As we headed behind ‘The Lodge’, we saw another walk, pencil pine, that promised a short waterfall and rainforest walk. It was good – easy track, magnificent waterfall and plenty of wildlife wandering through.
One of the things we noticed about the West was the constant smell of wood smoke from fireplaces, and the sad prevalence of unfamiliar road kill – mostly wombats.
Travel safe, take water for those long or demanding treks, good shoes and a hat.