3 Jun 2021. Marion’s Lookout, Cradle Mountain. Tasmania.
It was our first day back at Cradle Mountain (finally!) and we were determined to go for a hike regardless of the weather. It’s winter so we’re prepared for anything and hoping for snow!
When we checked-in to the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, they told us vehicles are no longer permitted to drive to Dove Lake; there is a shuttle bus from the brand new visitor centre.
So we went to investigate. A large modern building set amongst a huge car park, it was designed for the expanding numbers of tourists to the park. It seems Cradle Mountain is at risk of being a victim of its own success. But we were impressed with the new way of managing visitors.
David bought a pair of gloves and I bought a map before we headed over to the ranger and discussed our walking options and weather forecast for the coming week.
Bus pass in hand, we formed an orderly queue behind the other dude waiting for the bus.
Most of us on the bus were wearing face-masks. Except an older couple at the front, and then the lady coughed a raspy, rattling cough. Seriously?! She’s sick, out and not wearing a mask, during a pandemic. Times have changed lady!
It was getting late, we weren’t entirely sure if we’d do a big walk today, but now that we’re on the bus, we were keen to get into the mountains.
The landscape felt so familiar, like old friends, we know these mountains well. On the spur of the moment we decided to head towards Marions Lookout on the way up to Cradle Mountain’s peak, and see how far we could get with the remaining daylight hours.
From Dove Lake most of Cradle Mountain’s iconic shape was hidden in cloud cover but occasionally she revealed herself in tantalising glimpses.
Just before the boathouse, we turned away from Dove Lake passing around Lake Lilla and climbed the neat timber stairs through a forest grove to Wombat Pool.
We greeted another couple who’d stopped at the rest area. It was too soon to stop, so continued on.
It’s from here we started the steep climb along the ridge between Dove lake and Crater Lake. A cold and blustery cross wind kept us company. Occasional light showers would pepper our cheeks in the wind.
At this altitude we could see along Dove Lake valley and across to Hansens Peak.
“It’s like botanical garden” breathed Dave looking around at the lush alpine heather in the wind. We were standing on the ridge looking down to Crater Lake with it’s towering mountainous back drop.
Even in the wild weather the heath was luminous.
Standing on the ridge, the wind buffeted us and we could almost touch the clouds. It was exhilarating!
I may, or may not, have done a little jig.
After climbing for another 20 minutes, we reached a steep rocky climb just before Marion’s lookout. The wind had picked up, and the temperature had dropped.
We stood looking up at the rocky surface and started discussing which bottle of wine we should open. Dave checked the time. It’s not too soon for wine…
We turned around, our pace picking up instinctively.
Back on the boardwalk heading down, there was time to take in the view from the different direction.
A pair of pandani trees quietly watched us pass.
“I wonder how old these guys are?” I said looking at all the leaves.
Back down on Dove Lake, the light had changed with a little sunlight escaping the clouds and brightening the heath.
Looking around I was filled with energy and inspiration. This place is sublime.
It’s good to be back!