The Cradle in the Mountain

cradle-mountain-shotThere are usually two things which every traveller or tourist plans on when they come to The Apple Isle. One is to visit the iconic and unique Port Arthur, the infamous penal settlement and model prison of its colonial era. It once was a place of immeasurable suffering inflicted on the convicts and those born to poverty, in another time. The other is to chance their luck on hopefully experiencing the beauty of Cradle Mountain.

Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage area’s to be found in the central and South West of this gorgeous Isle. It is a World Heritage site for a very good reason. The Cradle Mountain and Lake Snt Clair National Park is simply stunning in its natural beauty and rare, breathtaking wilderness, but this is not only why it proudly carries a World Heritage Listing.

We set aside two days for our visit, in the hope that at least one of these would be a good day, weather-wise. The weather around Cradle Mountain is mercuric. In one day you can experience all seasons, and all weather conditions, so the chances were that in two days we would surely strike a breath of summer hidden in the winds of spring. We even planned time to return, should luck should not prove generous. But generous she was and we were not to be disappointed.

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Cradle Mountain is only a sprint from Launceston, or the port of Devonport where so many visitors from the mainland first set foot on the Apple Isle. It is easy to get to, though the roads in the mountains are notoriously slick and more than one traveller ends up in the gullies on a regular basis.

cradle-mnt-busThe first port of call is the Information Centre and here you can buy your pass, if you don’t already have one, and this entitles you to free travel on the courtesy buses which ply the 6-7klm narrow road between the Information Centre and Cradle Mountain, or Dove Lake which sits at the foot of the Cradle. These busses help preserve the fragile nature of the temperate alpine rainforests, which are quite unique in the world. They limit the tourist traffic to a manageable number travelling along the narrow and often slick mountain track. There are a few stops along the way and each has its attraction, mostly this is access to the several well-boarded bush walks and graded walking trails.

cradle-mnt-map

Many visitors head straight to Dove Lake at the end of the road and here they will take time to enjoy the stunning scenery or head out on the trails that meet at the foot of the Mountain. The most popular is the Dove Lake track, a 6klm track that rims the lake and a relatively easy to mid walk, with a few challenging steps. We packed a light lunch and a nice cuppa, and in consequence were the envy of near every walker who passed our picnic spot half way around the lake. There are no taps or snack bars at the Cradle and I would recommend packing a light lunch to enjoy regardless of where you are headed. Also, remember, that if you take it in… you bring it out. There are no garbage bins, although Dove Lake does feature a public loo.

picnic-sp-cradleIn the two days we set aside for the stunning mountain, the first was as wet as a Scottish mist and the Cradle was swathed in its winter scarf of cloud, rugged up high around her ears. The second day was however one of those exceptionally brilliant day and delivered some truly memorable moments, forever now crowned in some stunning snaps that will be the highlight of our tour to the Cradle.

cradle-mnt-challet

The other walks to be found around the Cradle are also exceptional. The Man ventured high into the mountains to visit the historic chalet of Waldheim while I recouped from our trek around the lake, back at the Interpretation Centre, watching the films about the Cradle and its history, both geological and cultural, enjoying the warmth of the glorious log fire.cradle-mnt-interpet-centre

It was a beautiful time, a memorable visit and one that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the Apple Isle. Take your time when you visit the Cradle and enjoy the unique experience. It’s not just a mountain but is a memory you can take away and savour for many years to come.

Travel well

 

Jan is a Traveller and an Author. You can find out more about her books on travel on the page dedicated to Oldies at Large, where you will also find a list of her blog postings in topic.

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