March 8, 2020
Day two of our Cradle Mountain adventure dawned rather chillier than day one. The cloud was out, the sun was shy, there was a nip in the mountain air, but we set off for another traipse around Cradle Mountain. Our starting point was Ronny Creek, where we were deposited by the shuttle. It is a tad annoying that there isn’t vehicle access, so despite having a Parks Pass, we can’t drive in, we still have to be shuttled in by the electric buses on a constant loop. Still, this is the situation as it is, and on the narrow roads through the Park I guess it makes sense and it does help to keep the environment that little bit more pristine. Our destination trek today was Crater Lake and again, we were given a gentle introduction via a boardwalk, across open plains. Once again, there was evidence aplenty of wombats in the vicinity, but no chubby waddler to be seen.
The path soon turned steep, but no scrambling necessary. The path was rugged but clearly laid out before us, with rocky steps taking us up and up and up.
“Have you seen a wombat?” asked an Australian couple as they passed us.
“No,” I said, “lots of evidence of them, but no sight of the real thing.”
We shared disappointments and trekked on.
The path took us up and up and into a section of rainforest, almost glowing green and then up to Crater Falls. It was a very peaceful spot to stop, watch and listen to the rush of water gushing down the mountain.
As we climbed, we could look out at the the views to the mountains, across the button grass plains and then finally, a view down to Crater Lake. There were a few other walkers along the path, but as I stopped and waited for Steve, all I heard was that sound that so inspired the Simon and Garfunkel classic…silence. It was so quiet..not a sound at all to be heard. Pure delight.
Past Crater Lake, we made it to the foot of Marion’s Lookout. Steve was nursing an angry blister from yesterday’s outing and so we opted not to tackle the vertical climb up to Marion’s, but turned instead to head down towards Dove Lake.
On the way down, we were stopped by a trio of young French travellers, who we helped out with directions. They had planned to walk to the summit of Cradle, thinking it was only a three hour walk. It was in fact more like a seven or eight hour walk, so they opted for the top of Marion’s instead. Good plan.
The downward plod was, if anything, trickier than the uphill. It occurred to me just how much estimation and Maths I do when I walk in places like this.
‘How high does that rock look? Is that higher than my leg? Can I step down that? Nope, I think if I try and step down there, I will land in a heap on a part of my person that is not supposed to land first. Better find another option.’ All that goes through my head umpteen times, as I plan and strategise and over-think technical terrain, as I measure up my limited leg length against the drop down from a rock or a step, off which I need to tread. At one point Steve said he’d wished he had the video running as I stepped forward and back, side to side, trying to find a way down a steep rocky step, of a height I knew would see me tumbling in an undignified way if I attempted a simple step down. I got there, but with a dosie-doe and a dance of indecision beforehand.
“Have you seen a wombat?” asked another voice. This time from a lady with a German accent and perfect English.
“No,” I replied with disappointment, “still looking.”
“Well, if you see one, you give us a call,” she replied with a laugh.
“Definitely!” I assured her, “I’ll give a shout!”
It seemed those elusive wombats were on the minds of a few walkers.
We made our way down to the shores of Dove Lake, with the sun putting in an occasional appearance, which was warm and lovely. We saw a young couple off the path, standing in the grasses to the side, still and looking in front of them.
“Do you think they’ve seen a wombat?” I asked Steve.
“Probably. Or an echidna,” he suggested.
On our way back, I tramped off onto the exact spot they had been standing and scanned the ground all around. Nope. No wombat. No nothing. Our wombat patrol had once again given us a big chubby zero.
Around the edge of the lake we strolled, back towards the shuttle.
“Where’s a good place to walk? Not too far. Not too hard?” asked an older American gentleman with his wife. “Is it hard to get up there?” he asked pointing to a rock looking down on the lake.
“Where’s the boat house?” asked his wife, enquiring after the structure that is in the iconic pictures of the lake.
We gave them some suggestions for an easy stroll along the lake side, to the shore and where they could visit the boat house.
“Well, we might start there,” said his wife.
“And see how we feel after that,” added her husband.
They thanked us. We wished them a happy walk and we parted company. They were amongst the many and varied international accents we had heard along our walk and again, nice to hear and see so many nationalities enjoying a spot of Tasmanian wilderness.
Another most enjoyable walk in the bag. This one had been labelled “moderate” in difficulty too, but was a lot easier than yesterday. No scrambling necessary. No need to hang onto rocks or trees or haul ourselves up hillsides. There were some steep bits and a bit of taking it easy in some rocky sections, but all in all, not a difficult ramble at all.
A great couple of days seeing a bit more of our own small island, alongside many visitors also discovering what Tassie has to offer. We still hope to travel further afield this year, but in the meantime, Tassie is giving us some home ground delights too. For now, that’ll do fine. Just fine indeed.
Distance walked: 5.26 km
Total time on the trail: 2 hours 21 minutes