Thursday 9 April 2015

Tasmania Travel Pt 11: Savouring The Natural Beauty Of Tasmania's Cradle Mountain National Park

I have been galavanting around the cities the past three days and for a change it's time to explore the natural beauty of Tasmanian Wilderness. Our first venue is Cradle Mountain National Park, located about 146km from our hotel in Launceston. 
It takes more than 2 hours to get to the park from the city. We have decided to join a local tour for this excursion as the park is too vast and we believe only the local guide can guide us to see the best. This excursion involves a lot of walking and climbing under very cold weather condition. The wind especially, is uncomfortably icy. All in we covered one tract at Dove Lake around Cradle Mountain and two short walks at the Cradle Valley.

1) The Track At Dove Lake
Tasmania's walking tracts and trails are world renowned. There are a few tracks to choose from here. We decided to choose the one that goes to Marions Lookout via Wombat Pool.  
Cradle Mountain can be seen from Dove Lake. It was thus named by an early explorer as it bore a remarkable similarity to a miner's cradle. (see enlarged photo below)
Our track brought us through a lush and diverse vegetation which include grassland, rainforest and many ancient plants. Some paths are easy to walk on but it gets very strenuous on steeper slopes and rugged terrain.
Plants we see along the track.
When we get a little tired, we will take a break and admire the scenery around us. By the way the guide did not walk with us. The small group of 8 that follows this excursion splits to follow their own choice of trail.
If you stand and do nothing, the cold will slowly overwhelm you, so you'll just have to walk on. 
The paths are well carved out and with signs like this it is not easy to get lost unless you venture off the track.
An icy stream cascading down the the rugged mountain.
As we climb higher and higher, the scenery gets more and more beautiful.
The best thing to do on a cold mountain is to 'minum kopi panas'.
I don't mind long distance walking but I am just not cut out for mountain climbing. We reached Wombat Pool and decided to call it quits so from here, we hiked back to Dove Lake. But looking back at all these photos which we took, I think the tedious climb was really worth the while. 

2) Cradle Valley Boardwalk
This walk is done prior to the Cradle Mountain hike. It is just a short 30 minutes educational walk where our guide explains a few things about the vegetation and wildlife in the mountain area.  
A jungle berry you can eat if you get lost in the mountain forest.
More edible berries.
We spotted a few wildlife.

3) The Weindorfers Forest Walk
The Weindorfers Forest Walk is an easy 20 minutes circuit which starts from Waldheim Chalet. 
Waldheim Chalet was built in 1912 by Gustav Weindorfer, for visitors who wanted to explore Cradle Mountains in the early years. Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian born Australian was a botanist, a lodge-keeper and promoter of Cradle Mountain National Park. The chalet which is no longer used for accommodation is now a tourist exhibit.
Inside the chalet.
The track
The lush forest

4) The Wildlife
    The weather is usually very cold here but it was sunny that day and these animals 
    have come out to enjoy the sun.
The wombats have come out in big numbers and we had a fun time chasing after them to snap a few photos.
We spotted two echidnas. These animals are also called spiny anteaters and they are the only mammals that lay eggs.
The wallabies which look like kangaroos have also come out to sun themselves.
Also spectacular to this area are the button grass tangoing to the cold mountain winds. 

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