One of the novelties I’ve enjoyed about calling Tassie home for a good part of this year has been the distinct four seasons that allow you to appreciate the ebb and flow of the year in new ways. Despite Tassie’s reputation for ‘life below zero’, it’s actually the same distance from the equator as Spain and enjoys a similar Mediterranean climate (with similar opportunities to grow delicious Mediterranean things to eat).
Since we’ve been back, we’ve mostly had seriously glorious Spring days, hitting the perfect mid-twenties; but unlike sweltering Sydney, the past few mornings have been that misty mountain-hiding cool that’s had me lighting the fire and reminiscing about our trip to Cradle Mountain this winter.
Even though Cradle is one of Tassie’s most iconic locations, Carl had never been, so I organised a weekend away for his birthday. The two-and-a-half-hour drive from Poatina took us through some stunning scenery (let’s face it, most places in Tassie are pretty easy on the eye), though I had to stop working a few times in the winding bits to avoid getting car sick (thank you tax lady for writing off a van office for this digital nomad since we don’t have a fixed address). We checked into our lovely cabin at Cradle Mountain Lodge, lit the fire the housekeeper had set for us, then jumped back in the car for the short drive to Dove Lake.
It was lightly snowing when we arrived at the foot of the cradle and it stayed that way – Carl didn’t get to see the mountain show its pretty face those first two days for the clouds. We set off on a short-ish hike to Wombat Pool – which is also the very start of the Overland Track – grinning in wonder at the white stuff falling from the sky and settling on our shoulders.
My memory of the rest of the weekend is a blur of hiking, eating, sleeping and getting (or keeping) warm. We woke the first morning to snow lying beneath the trees outside our cabin (such fun!), enjoyed a delicious breakfast and set out on a most-of-the-day hike to Marion’s Lookout via Crater Lake. Carl’s hiking shoes were pretty worn out so his feet were completely soaking wet within the first hour. Thankfully, the promise of a cosy cabin with a fire and spa kept him going, along with the waterproof pants and jackets gratefully borrowed from my parents.
It was pretty wild and woolly when we neared the top of the pass, wading through knee-deep snow. Only us and another couple (who Carl may-or-may-not have ‘encouraged’ to join us) braved it to the top, where the view from the “lookout” was of …well… a snow storm. Not the scene most people wind their way up there to see, but for us non-snow bunnies the novelty of a swirling expanse of flakes was pretty captivating. Carl commented that it felt “otherworldly” – something he’s experienced plenty of times while free diving in the ocean, but a first for him feeling so awed and intimidated on land.
We took the quick way down from Marion’s. Marked “hazardous” on the map, it basically involved us sliding on our bums on the snow for half an hour. When we reached the bottom, we were so energised that we decided to continue on to the Dove Lake walk which, for some reason, we both remembered as an hour-long circuit (spoiler: it’s two hours). We ended up having to jog part of the way in order to make it back in time for the last shuttle bus. The complementary box of Tasmanian chocolate truffles waiting on our bed and dear little carafe of port was a welcome addition to our warming-up evening, before an amazing dinner and sloe gin by the fire. Bliss.
Walks we did at Cradle Mountain
- Marion’s Lookout via Crater Lake – 3 hours return leaving from the Ronny Creek carpark (or more like five hours if you go on to do Dove Lake afterwards like we did).
- Dove Lake – a 2-3-hour circuit listed as one of Tassie’s 60 Great Short Walks.
- The Enchanted Walk – another of the top 60 short walks. This is a 20-minute circuit through a mossy, lichen-y fairyland forest.
- Cradle Valley Boardwalk – a brilliantly-maintained track that takes in some great views of Cradle Mountain at a distance. At 5km one-way, this walk has the bonus option to catch the shuttle back or even part way along if you end up with a niggling injury like Carl did (side note – this is the location where two fellow-walkers thought they were happening upon Carl down on one knee, but he was merely stretching his sore leg).
- The Overland Track – we only did the very start of this 65km, six-day walk but it’s definitely on our bucket list. Watch this space.
Have you had an ‘otherworldly’ experience in nature recently? Tell me about it in the comments below.