We were only at Cradle Mountain for two nights, one full day, but we managed to cram in more than 20 km of walking – bearing in mind that the terrain is anything but flat, this was not an insignificant achievement. Not only that, but we were so blessed with the weather – clear blue skies on our one big day of walking!
On leaving Stanley, our route to Cradle Mountain took us close to Waratah, a short diversion off the main road. The main attraction was that it has a significant waterfall in the middle of town! Although in itself interesting, we also discovered that the town was host to the first tin mine in Australia, which, when developed in the 1880s, claimed to be the largest in the world.
The town grew around the tin mine and many of the original features, such as the water wheel, still remain and form a heritage trail around town.
After a brief drive into the Cradle Mountain National Park, we passed the Visitor Centre and almost immediately after that was the entrance to our accommodation – The Highlander Cabins. The drive in to reception was up a drive through the trees – this was replicated by the 50m winding pathway that totally obscured our designation cabin. Three quarters of the way, the cabin gradually revealed itself.
The cabin was a very comfortable single living, cooking and sleeping space, made all the more habitable by the wood burning fire (firewood supplied). It was so secluded, we didn’t even worry about pulling the blinds at night, giving us the pleasure of wakening to daylight breaking through the surrounding trees.
Determined to make the most of our time at Cradle Mountain, we set off to the Interpretation Centre, another few kilometres up the road and the start of the Dove Gorge Walk. We had intended to complete the whole circuit, but after being advised at the visitor centre that we could run out of daylight, we walked 2.5 km as far as the bridge and back the same way.
This walk meant that we passed the Pencil Pines Falls and the Knyvet Falls, both very photogenic. The viewing platform at Pencil Pines Falls provides a great view of the falls, but at Knyvet Falls, the platform is quite different with a view of the top of the falls only. Not satisfied with this, I clambered down the bank downstream to get a better view, with a much more appealing outcome.
On returning, we were welcomed by a couple of wombats happily feeding next to the track – needless to say they were well photographed.
We finished off the day with a short walk around the Enchanted Forest.
The next day was our only full day so we planned to cover as much ground as possible. Catching the first shuttle bus to Dove Lake, our first intention was to tackle the Rim Walk, but setting Lake Hanson as an initial target where we would review whether to proceed or not. The track up this point (where the Twisted Lake Track starts) was generally quite steep, but at one stage, very steep where we had to scramble up a stretch of bare rock.
The view from the top was quite spectacular, but after some refreshment and much debate, we decided to head back the way we had come. This decision was based on our concern about our abilities to tackle what looked like quite a challenging trek across the face of Cradle Mountain.
Returning back down the track was reasonable straightforward, but started to take its toll on our knees.
Our next walk was circumnavigating Dove Lake, a distance of 6.5km. At times it was like Collins Street with the number of walkers, but we enjoyed the walk, stopping three quarters of the way for lunch and ending up at the iconic boathouse.
Of course, I had to photograph this much photographed feature of Dove Lake.
Wombat Pool & Ronny Creek
Our final walk was from the Dove Lake shuttle bus terminus to the Ronny Creek bus stop, a short one hour stretch via Lilla Lake. This took us passed the start of the 15 minute walk to the Wombat Pool where we decided to take the detour. This was not our best decision of the day – rather than a walk, it was a climb up a long series of steps, up and up and up and it took us 30 minutes. At the end of our day walking and climbing, this was the last thing our knees needed!
However, we made it to the top where the Wombat Pool probably was not worth the effort, but there were some great views on the way back down.
Back on the relatively flat track to Ronny Creek, we made good time over the first section that was a bit rocky and even better time when then track changed to boardwalk. Towards the end of this section, we passed numerous wombats happily grazing and ignoring the various trekkers walking up and down the track.
We arrived at the bus stop to coincide with a bus, and a very welcome seat, arriving to pick us up.
The following day (Wednesday)
After checking out of the cabin, we walked down to the visitor centre shop where K bought a T shirt and then drove back to the Interpretation Centre where we completed the short Rainforest walk. Our last stop before heading off to Deloraine, our next overnight stop, was the Devil Sanctuary. Here they have a breeding program for Tassie Devils and Eastern and Spotted Tail Quolls. We spent well over an hour watching the quolls and trying to get a few good photos of them through the glass and wire mesh of their enclosures. The Devils were easier to photograph as they were in open pens. This centre plays a vital role in the protection of the species through breeding and releasing back into the environment where they can track their success rates.