There are fewer iconic images of Tasmania than the pictures of the boat shed and Cradle Mountain at Dove lake. So to relive our honeymoon just after our 50th wedding anniversary, we revisited this spot which we had seen all those years ago. To get there we drove from Launceston in the north of the state. It’s about a three hour drive if you don’t stop at the raspberry farm and the cheese factory along the way. Of course you should stop there because they offer free samples of their produce! You should also stop in Sheffield a small town along the way. They hold an annual mural competition and so painted on the walls around town and in one of the parks are around 50 murals.
Use Your Phone to Get There.
To get there in a hire car I used Apple Maps which worked well. Hiring a GPS is too expensive and if you have a smart phone it will work well. But one hint – spend around $10 and buy a magnet clip for your phone. The magnetic part clips into the air vent. The other part is a small metal plate that you put inside the phone case and provided it’s not too thick, it should enable to phone to stick to the clip on the air vent. My hire car had a USB outlet to enable me to not use the phone battery.
The accommodation at Cradle mountain was reasonably priced for a medium quality hotel and because it offered a buffet breakfast included in the room rate, we had a good start each day.
The Information Centre
The day we arrived, we checked in and headed for the information centre where you must purchase a National Parks pass. Just be careful when you go there because you will have to buy a Parks pass. A day pass costs $15 per person but a 6 week pass costs $60 for a car pass including passengers. There is a special rate however for seniors. An annual seniors pass costs just $38 and covers your car and up to 6 people and gives you a bus pass for your stay. The seniors pass is not advertised anywhere so you need to show your seniors card from your Australian state and ask for the seniors prices. If you have a similar card from overseas you will need to ask if it works too. The annual pass covers you for other parks in Tasmania as well so its well worth paying for it.
Because of the numbers of people visiting, you are only allowed to drive your car into the park before 8am or after 6pm. The rest of the time, shuttle busses take you to and from any one of three stops along the way to Dove lake.
Since it was a fine day when we arrived, we headed out on the bus and arrived around 5pm at Dove lake. That gave us half an hour to get to the Boat shed and back before the last bus out. That was easy enough and we got some great pictures that day.
The Long Walk.
The next day we set out after breakfast and took the bus to the third stop – Ronny Creek. Here there is a number of walks that head off into the hills so we chose to take the Overland track towards Crater lake. The walk started out easy enough. We walked for around 1km across a reasonably level board walk. It was very cold as we walked. Even though the temperature was around 4 degrees, the wind chill was something else! I had my snow jacket on that I purchased before I went to Canada for Christmas and I was still cool.
We took a 20 minute detour to the Waldheim chalet which was the first building built in this area. It was worth the detour time to understand the origins and history of the region.
After crossing a small bridge, we began the upward part of the track and the rain came. No one told me that crater lakes are usually on the top of a mountain! So for the next 2 hours we walked one step forward and one step up. According to my iPhone I went up 65 flights of stairs. That is 1040 steps or something. The map says the crater lake is at 1000m. So somewhere in those figures you will understand it was a long way up. Some of it was easy, some involved climbing over rocks of various sizes.
On the way up we passed a waterfall which on a hot day, would have been a refreshing break! There was a wooden chair thoughtfully provided for us to catch our breath.
Another Boat Shed.
To my surprise, there was a boat shed beside this lake too. But when we got to the lake, the path again led in an upward direction towards Marions lookout. We turned down the possibility of climbing even higher and decided to make our way down to Dove lake. However from the top of ridge, there were some great views of Dove lake and Lake Lilla.
The path down was easy enough at the start. We headed down on a wooden pathway but then had to take an uphill path for about 150m to another thoughtfully placed chair. From there however the path became a lot more difficult. As we descended we came to a rocky outcrop and the path got lost amongst the rocks. For the next 50m we struggled to find the way down but thankfully the snow poles were of some help. On the way down we began to catch glimpses of Wombat pool. This tea tree lake had the “l” removed from all the signs and it still reasonably described what you saw. Wombat poo is very distinctive since it is square.
When we eventually arrived at Dove lake, the sky was overcast and made us appreciate the fact that we had taken the opportunity to take our pictures the day before.
So when are you going to go there? Tasmania is beautiful and has a lot of diverse scenery within a relatively short distance. So add Cradle Mountain if not the rest of Tasmania to your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed!