8 Jun 2021. Dove Lake Circuit, Cradle Mountain. Tasmania.
“What would our twenty-something selves think of our fifty year old selves?” I wondered out loud.
We walked this track on our honeymoon, 23 years ago. It was snowing back then, and the contrast of walking through a winter wonderland a few days after our wedding (in Queensland) had been striking.
“I think they’d be proud of us, wouldn’t they?”
“We have so much more energy now” David agreed. “I never imagined, I’d run 10K regularly!”
We climbed up to the lookout on top of a large rocky outcrop called “Glacial Rock” and watched mist steal through the valley.
The track wound through a damp forest of twisted, mossy branches and revealed glimpses of the lake through the canopy.
It’s such an atmospheric place.
At the southern end of the lake, a wall of peaks loomed through the mist.
Slowing down, we tuned into the sound of the breeze in the leaves, a waterfall in the distance.
“It’s like a zen garden” I said to Dave looking around.
We paused at a picnic platform and debated stopping to paint. It was tucked into the shelter of the trees, and obscured the lake so decided to continue.
But we could hear a group of people approaching from behind who were chattering constantly as they walked. Is there anything more distracting that being in pristine wilderness and followed by the inane chatter of others. I want to listen to the rain in the trees, to birds, to come across shy animals. So we waited for them to trudge past, with their handbag, sneakers and umbrellas.
And then, we were alone with the wind.
“I remember this.” Dave said as another trail intersected with the Dove Lake circuit track. “Me and Ross came this way on our last day.” In 1992, David and his buddy Ross, walked the Overland Track together. He has fond memories of that time, and they have been bubbling to the surface lately.
“It was really steep here. We were loaded down with heavy packs and then, we had to walk all the way to the Lodge. And when we couldn’t get a room, had to walk onto the camp ground another 5k away.
We’d been looking for somewhere to stop and paint, so decided to take a look along this section of track. I was surprised at just how steep and narrow it was. I’m going to say ‘treacherous’ even. How did David and Ross negotiate this terrain fully loaded down and tired after a week of hiking? They certainly had youth on their side, and a healthy determination to finish the hike. Chuckle.
Perched on rocks at the side of steep uneven track, we pulled out our painting gear. It was drizzling but we were out of the wind. Surrounded by the luscious mess of dense tangled rainforest, we settled in to sketch.
Just as I was finishing the charcoal sketch and about to pull out my watercolours, David held up his finished painting and stared chuckling. Drizzle had turned to rain as we’d been painting. His paper was so rain splattered that the watercolour just slid off the paper as he held it aloft.
“That’ll do!” I laughed and started packing up. My sketchbook was getting soaked too. I finished the watercolour later that night in the cabin. Some might call it cheating. I shall call it, practical.
Back down at the lake we rejoining the circuit track and watched the wind and rain dance across the lake.
Where the shallow Plateau Creek drains into the lake the forest is called ‘The Ballroom’, I’m not sure why? Because the dense forest opens up?
A small platform sits on the lake shore directly facing the famous silhouette of Cradle Mountain. We watched the clouds roll across the peaks with some speed. I loved the colour of this place. In the absence of a blue sky, the lake was luminous raw sienna and yellow ochre.
Another painting opportunity! So many things to paint here!
From here the track climbed up over a saddle with a classic view of the lake and peaks directly behind us. I wished we’d been walking in the opposite direction, at this point. We’d been following the advice of the park ranger, at the visitor centre, and walked clockwise.
There were plenty of opportunities to stop and turn around to take in the view while catching our breath from the stairs.
I have a half-finished, large format painting of this view (in Sydney) that I resolved to finish. I may have promised to paint it for David’s 50th….two years ago!
Six years ago, back when I was moving into oil painting, David enthusiastically encouraged me by buying the biggest canvas he could fit in the car. It took up so much room that we hung it on the lounge room wall (blank) while I worked up the courage to tackle it. That blank canvas, generated some interesting comments from visitors. I was tempted to leave it blank.
Standing on a timber bench seat, looking over the forest down to the lake and misty mountains I decided. It was time. And I was ready. I’ll finish that painting as soon as we get home.
There was a small group of people gathered at the spot to photograph the boat shed, so we didn’t linger.
It certainly is a picturesque little building.
Years ago, visitors could hire little rowing boats to take out on the lake. They probably fished in the lake too.
“Speaking of fish…” I said to Dave who chuckled immediately knowing what I had in mind.
“Yes! If that’s what the lady wants!”
I started to run making David chuckle again. But we definitely picked up the pace, and stopped slowing down to take photographs – we had fish and chips on the mind!
Is there a better way to end a day in the mountains than with hot, crispy, salty, fish and chips. In a tavern by the fire? In Tasmania?