Monday, December 15, 2008

Cradle Mountain 1st-2nd Dec

Dec 1st:
I left Launceston at 10am on Monday 1st December (the first day of summer) and headed to Cradle Mountain. The view of cradle mountain over Dove lake is probably one of the most famous views of Tasmania. I got to the YHA cosy cabins after 3 hours of driving.

I decided that I was going to try to do at least some walking that afternoon and after a quick lunch headed up to the visitors centre to get more information. I got a bit of a shock when I heard that you had to buy a 24 hour permit which cost $22 before I could do any walking. In the end I thought that because I would be needing several days passes I would stump up the extra charge of $56 for a 2 weeks pass.

Once I got my pass I drove my hire car up to Dove Lake Car park and proceeded to do the lake circuit walk. It took about 2 and half hours to do the walk which gave me mediocre views of the mountains. Mediocre because the weather was not the best and seemed to change every few minutes. One minute it would be sunny then the next raining and then cloudy and windy. I even saw a small waterspout form over the lake. Because of the wind and the rain the lake was very choppy making any photos of reflections in the water useless.

Here are some photos anyway.

Cradle Mountain

DM and Cradle Mountain

Er - surprise - Cradle Mountain


When I finished my walk I headed back to the cosy cabins backpackers. By the time I got there the reception area and all other shops were closed. I had nothing to eat for dinner so I ended up going all the way to Sheffield 60km away to get some food. I bought some bread for breakfast/lunch the next day and a very healthy gravy chip for my dinner. Back at the backpackers I met some other walkers in the kitchen. Two middle aged English women, two young German guys and two Aussi girls who had all more or less done the same walk as me that day only earlier in the day. They were all going to do more demanding walks the next day.

There was also another woman in the kitchen who must have been at least 65 who I learnt the next day was doing the 'Overland' Trek by herself. This is one of the most famous bushwalks in Australia and goes from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. The total distance is 80km but it usually takes about 6 days to do and you have to bring everything with you that you will need. She said the next morning 'I think this will probably be my last time doing this' as she heaved a rucksack as big as her on her back!

Never change your camera's batteries on a bog boardwalk. That way if you do drop a battery by mistake you do not spend 20 minutes trying to retrieve it from under said boardwalk and in the end have to lie down in the mud to get it!

Dec 2:
The next day I woke to find that it was pouring down with rain. In fact it had been pouring most of the night. I was in two minds about doing any walking let alone the walk I intended to do up to Marion's lookout:

The song playing on the radio was apt for the occassion. (sorry I chopped of the 'better' from my commentry.)

I wonder why!

In the end I decided to go for it. I thought if a 65 year old grannie can walk 80km in this then I can do at least a couple of km. Also I met the German guys in the visitor centre and discovered that they were chickening out of any walking.

I am pretty sure this black currrawong (tasmanian crow) followed me and was waiting for me break my neck somewhere.

20 minutes into the walking the sun came out for a while and I thought that it was going to be good weather after all. How wrong I was! I made it up to crater lake quite easily but by the time I got there it had starting raining again. Again I made a decision to continue on to Marions lookout - after all I had come this far.

Crater lake

So on up I went


and steeper!

And windier and windier:

Until finally I made it to Marions Lookout. Very cold and Very Wet - I don't think DM was enjoying himself:

Still I thought 'I've had worse weather than this back in Ireland. I even remember one time up in the Mourne Mountains we had to walk in horizontal hail which stung like hell'

Right on cue on the way back down it started to hail - horizontally!

I made my way back down in the still pouring rain/hail past this lake.

I think it's called Kangaroo lake.

And of course as soon as I made it down the sun came out!

oh look at the view now!

Back at the visitor centre I made a point of reading and photographing all their info on Devils in Cradle Mountain. There is an extensive ongoing monitoring program being carried out around Cradle mountain using trapping and remote trip cameras and there appears to be good news on the disease front.

It appears that Tasmanian Devils on the west side of the island are slightly different genetically from the ones on the east side and are more resistent to the disease. Of over 105 individual devils photographed in the area only 9 had the disease which is only 10%. If this is confirmed then it really good news for the future of the animal.

In the afternoon I made the long drive to Strahan and booked myself into another YHA cosy cabin. I had a quick look around the town before retiring to bed reasonably early.

After my DM video I turned round to see another hiker quickly walking away from Marions lookout. Obviously he was going to the lookout but had seen this nutjob talking to a cuddly toy and decided to legit in the opposite direction.

Oh - just to show you. This is the sort of photo I should have gotten at this time of year - from the visitor cedntre (excuse the flash)

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