Inspiration to visit Tasmania
My whole trip to Tasmania was inspired by having dinner with my friends, Peter and Tricia, who are also world travelers and have been to way more places than I have been. They keep going back to Tasmania and I wondered why. They absolutely love Tasmania, especially Cradle Mountain. So I had to find out for myself what was the mystique about this place. I greatly underestimated Tasmania and could spend weeks here.
Taking the Road Less Traveled
After a great couple of days in Hobart, I rented a car and headed to Cradle Country to ultimately visit Cradle Mountain National Park and I decided to take the scenic drive there. Luckily my driving skills were still pretty good to drive on the left. So far, no mistakes made. The drive to Cradle Country was magnificent… green hills, water views galore, farm country, spring newborns everywhere (the little lambs were so cute). The one thing the navigation didn’t tell me was that a portion of the highway was gravel… not thrilled but it wasn’t too bad. Once I made it around the Great Lake, out of nowhere there is this little food truck at the lake overlook and I was so hungry… an order of a ham and cheese toasty (grilled cheese basically) and coke zero fit the bill.
As I continued on to Cradle Mountain, my driving skills were really tested with the amount of curves and dodging of roadkill (unfortunately, pademelons and wallabies are often hit on the road and they aren’t small). It reminded me of driving in Ireland and the UK. Fortunately I made it to my lodge in one piece. The drive from Hobart took about 4.5 hours.
I stayed at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge (#pepperscradlemountainlodge). It’s located right outside the entrance to the park. This is a rustic lodge so there are no televisions in the rooms and wi-fi access is only in the main lodge. It was a great opportunity to disconnect and experience nature. I’d highly recommend the lodge (as well as the spa). My room also had a gas fireplace so it was nice and toasty!
I wanted to take pictures of the baby lambs but it was not safe to pull off as the roads were narrow.
Cradle Mountain National Park
The weather forecast all week had said it was going to rain when I was going to be at the park so my expectations were low and I was ready to deal with the rain. Luckily when I arrived, it was mostly cloudy with some sun peaking through. So I wanted to get a picture of Cradle Mountain without the rain and raced to Dove Lake to take the shot. I was super happy with these pictures and was ready for the rain to come.
Much to my surprise, the rain never came that night or the next day. So Wednesday morning, I got up early and had a great breakfast at the lodge before departing for the park. Tip: If you can get into the park before the shuttle buses run (8:30 am), you’re likely to find a parking spot so you don’t have to ride the shuttle. Off I went into the park at 7:30 am and found my parking spot at Ronny Creek. The sun wasn’t out yet as the clouds were quite low and I figured by the time I finished my hike up to Marion’s Lookout, the sun would be out for a great view of Dove Lake. This was some hike… it started out very flat on a boardwalk and quickly turned into a continuous steep climb. Boardwalks are used everywhere as the ground is very soft and mushy, some are pretty high off the ground and there are no railings… watch your step.
Once I got off the boardwalk path and climbed many stories of rock steps, I entered into this enchanting rainforest with waterfalls, moss growing everywhere, with a complete canopy overhead. The only word I could think of was “enchanting” when I walked through nature’s doorway. It continued to go uphill 🙂
As I continued uphill, I finally came upon Crater Lake, half way point to Marion’s Lookout. I hadn’t seen any other hikers that morning and so I got to listen to nature that morning… very serene. The shed is a boat shed and actually very small.
Once I made it pass Crater Lake, I got to a lookout and the clouds were still very low and I couldn’t see anything in the valley. So I contemplated whether I should continue up to Marion’s Lookout… plus when I saw the path and it was even steeper, I thought this may be good enough but I my goal was Marion’s Lookout and so up I went (Jill would be proud). The marker said just another 20 minutes which I really didn’t believe. It was straight up and required chain hand railings, a bit of scrambling on all fours, and a whole lot of cardio (see Jill, I’m getting my cardio in and plenty of sweating). Below is my view of the valley, the mountain I had to climb, and the path to get me there.
I wasn’t about to settle for this view so I took a seat and stroke up a conversation with another hiker that came up shortly after I had made it… literally no more than 10 minutes later, you could see the clouds quickly blowing away and the valley revealed itself. Turns out the other hiker was a world traveler as well and was from Perth. It was nice to have a hiking buddy to go back down and share travel stories on the way.
Going down was so much easier but certainly resulted in some shaky legs later in the day for which a massage would take care of later. The weather continued to get better that day and I was able to get some good shots of the mountain and surrounding lakes. The views are just splendid no matter where you look and constantly changing based on the sunlight and precipitation. Enchanting to say the least… if the hike up to Marion’s Lookout wasn’t enough, I decided to take the “leisure” walk around Dove Lake which took 2 hours and wasn’t all that leisure after I had been going uphill all morning. Nonetheless, the circuit around Dove Lake was worth it.
After a long day of hiking which turned out to be 9 miles that day with many uphill climbs, it was time to head back to the lodge to rest and get ready for my massage. If you go to this lodge, treat yourself to the spa. You won’t be disappointed. For men, I recommend the Weekend Warrior package.
I now understand why my friends, Peter and Tricia, love coming back to Tasmania and Cradle Mountain. It’s truly magical and has it all for the person who wants to escape from it all and immerse themselves into nature.
Wombats are the best
I hadn’t seen any wombats prior to arriving to Cradle Mountain and the lodge didn’t disappoint. There were numerous animals around the lodge and my favorite was the wombat. Too bad you can’t pick them up…
Until next time…
This place had it all… including beautiful sunsets and stars galore in the open sky. I’ll be back again. Thank you Peter and Tricia!