(December 29, 2020 – written by Nancy)
What to do when it rains on your only free day in world heritage Cradle Mountain National Park?
Well, you just get on with it. The hikes take on a different feel in the rain and mist. And while missing out on seeing views of Cradle Mountain with blue skies is a little disappointing there is still a lot to see in the park. We were up early with the plan to get the first bus at 8:10 up into the park to do the Dove Lake circuit, which provides great views of Cradle Mountain, on a clear day. It looked quite foggy when we first got up, and by the time we were on the bus for the 20 minute ride up into the park the windshield wipers were running steadily. It wasn’t heavy rain, but enough to call rain.
There were only a few other people on the bus, so at least that part of the plan worked out. It meant that we didn’t run into too many people on the trail that takes you around Dove Lake. The rain meant rain jackets and rain pants went on before we started out, and we were happy to have them as it was pretty wet after being out there for a bit. The problem wasn’t so much the rain as it was the low lying clouds/mist/fog that was obscuring the mountain tops. We were hopeful that it might blow through in the time we were walking around the lake, but unfortunately we were not so lucky. A couple of times we saw the slightest bit of the outline of Cradle Mountain but the clouds never fully lifted enough for even a picture.
The walk was still a good one though, and we took our time to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. It is quite a beautiful setting and the path along the lake is well done to cater for the many people that must visit. There are lots of scenic viewpoints where you can take in the lake, the granite rocks and forests that surround the lake and (in clear weather), the famous Cradle Mountain. By the time we got back up to the starting point the buses were dropping off lots of people (they run every 10 minutes or so from the visitor’s center). So, despite the weather it was a good call to go early so we could enjoy the place in peace. There were quite a few people who weren’t really dressed for the weather – either they weren’t planning to go far or they were going to be very wet by the time they got back!
We spent a relaxing afternoon in our warm cabin looking at our plans for the upcoming few days, trying to figure out how we might get down the west coast of Tasmania without getting pummelled by rain and wind. I think we’ll just have to take our chances, as there are not a lot of options in some spots to get much shelter from the elements. Fingers crossed no big storms blow in!
The skies seemed to clear around 4 or so, Dave took a chance and hopped on another bus up to Dove Lake to see if he could get a view of Cradle Mountain. I decided to keep watch on the cabin – the bus ride up there is a bit twisty-turny and one of those rides per day is enough for me.
Tomorrow we start making our way up to the northwest coast of Tassie. We are not sure where we’ll make it to – we have a mid-way location scoped out in a rest area but we may make it a bit longer day and ride all the way up to Wynyard, about 110k from here.
Postscript – Dave is back now and he was successful in getting some photos of Cradle Mountain.