Cradle Mountain

how not to go hiking!

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Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain

We flew back home to Sydney two days ago! Our biggest adventure and highlight in Tasmania would be our hike in Cradle Mountain National Park. At the time, it felt like a misadventure though! So let’s set the scene a little: There were 12 of us ranging from 20 months through to 64 years old. And we went to see Cradle Mountain. One cannot come to Tasmania and NOT see Cradle Mountain. The original plan was to walk Dove Lake Circuit because it was flat and therefore would be manageable with kids, a pram and a wheelie esky (a.k.a cooler bag).

Nice and flat around Dove Lake Circuit for the pram and esky. But instead, we choose the uneven track with steps and loose wet rocks
Nice and flat around Dove Lake Circuit for the pram and esky. But instead, we choose the uneven track with steps and loose wet rocks

In the group we had: – a 64 year old with gout in his left foot – a 30-something male who had pulled a hamstring during a spontaneous beach race on our first day in Tasmania – a 7 year old who had only just recovered from a 24 hour tummy bug the day before – a 20 month old asleep in a pram What was meant to be an easy walk turned into something extremely ambitious! Instead of walking the Dove Lake circuit which was a 2 hours walk around the lake (we all deemed it would take “too long”). We decided that we would walk the Lake Lilla Track to get to Ronny Creek so we could jump on the shuttle bus back to the Visitor Centre. How hard could it be, right? The map showed that it was mostly boardwalk so off we trot. Lake Lilla Track turned out NOT FLAT nor EASY nor QUICK especially if you were hiking with the four candidates listed above. We hadn’t prepared for this walk and this is when things started to get interesting!

Off we trot towards Lake Lilla
Off we trot towards Lake Lilla

Up and down the rocky pathway through the wilderness we walked with an infant asleep in the pram. Two of the men in our entourage carried the pram so Little Miss could continue to sleep, in hope that we would reach boardwalk soon. The path was narrow, and there were loose wet rocks as we hiked in single file. On and on we went, stopping occasionally to let passer-bys overtake us. We are sure they all thought we were mad! There were moments where we stopped to discuss whether to continue or to turn back as boardwalk was simply not in sight.

Narrow path where we walked carrying the pram with the sleeping infant and the esky.
Narrow path where we walked carrying the pram with the sleeping infant and the esky.
One of our "spots" wide enough for us to have a family meeting
One of our “spots” wide enough for us to have a family meeting

And always timely, we would see other hikers coming in the direction we were headed… Let’s ask them! So we did and the responses were similar: “You guys should turn back especially with the pram!” “The boardwalk is only at the very start of the hike, the rest will be rocks and water.” “There is a lot more rocks before you get to boardwalk.” “It’s pretty rough up ahead for you guys.” But did we heed their advice? Hmm… no! We pushed on because we had come so far already! There were times when we felt prematurely excited because there was boardwalk. We would celebrate and cheer, only to find that the boardwalk lasted 50 metres and we were back to gravel, uneven paths again! Were we EVER going to find civilisation?

Thinking we had hit the jackpot and that this was the boardwalk we had been searching for
Thinking we had hit the jackpot and that this was the boardwalk we had been searching for
We found the boardwalk... finally!
We found the boardwalk… finally!

Finally 2 and a half hours later, we arrived at boardwalk! Normally, it probably wouldn’t take hikers that long but with the entourage we had and our unpreparedness, it DID take us that long. Our reward for finishing was not only boardwalk but seeing wombats at the finish line! We had one wombat climb onto the boardwalk and walk right across our path.  We also saw a baby wombat and its mum.

Wombat 1 of 7
Wombat 1 of 7
Mum and Baby Wombat
Mum and Baby Wombat

Regardless of our reward at the end – let us finish by clearly stating: THIS IS NOT HOW TO HIKE! It is so crucial to be prepared, to plan your hike to know where you are going and to notify a responsible person that you are hiking in case you don’t return. It was only after we arrived back at our motel, that we realised that we hadn’t done ANY of those things. We had one 600mL bottle of water each (if that) – we were not dressed for abrupt change in weather. We didn’t really know where we were going. We hadn’t told anyone what we were doing. We had changed our original walk plans and turned it into a hike. What was meant to be only an hour or two at Cradle Mountain National Park became a 3 hour visit. We can laugh about it now, safe and sunburnt but wouldn’t have been laughing if something dire had happened out there. Call us crazy or foolish, we learnt our lesson, we won’t be going unprepared again for bush walks or hikes!

enjoy the view

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Tasmania really has it all. There is something for everyone here. History buffs would enjoy Port Arthur or Richmond where the first bridge in Australia can be found!

And for anyone who enjoys scenic holidays – Tassie will not disappoint. There are waterfalls, monoliths, mountains, bays, beaches.

On the northwest coast, in beautiful Stanley sits a volcanic monolith, the Nut. You can walk to the top or you could use the chairlift to get a view of the town. The day we were there was too windy that the chairlifts were closed – and we opted not to climb to the top so can’t really comment on the view.

The Nut
The Nut

Also in the northwest coast is Dismal Swamp. Yes, the name doesn’t sound overly cheerful but it is a very pleasant blackwood forest to visit. It is a sinkhole of blackwood trees and believed to be the only one in the world. There are two ways to get around, one is the walkway and the other is to jump down the big slippery slide that will take you to the bottom.

Towards the centre of Tasmania, there is Cradle Mountain. The area is serene and the Dove Lake perimeter walk is easy with a magnificent backdrop. Definitely NOT to be missed whilst in Tasmania.

Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain

Then on the northeast coast, the Bay of Fires – the coastal views are really incredible. Seeing the contrast in the boulders splashed with red, the white sand and the wild waves crashing ashore…. one could just spend hours walking along the coastline.

Bay of Fire
Bay of Fire

Moving south, no one should miss Wineglass Bay. The walk to the top for the view down has about 600 steps to climb, just short of 1.5 km. But that view is divine! The day we were there, we had perfect weather and our advice to all who wishes to attempt it: Start early and bring water! It was incredible how many people we saw heading up with no water and starting out at lunchtime when the sun is obviously at its peak!!

Wineglass Bay
Wineglass Bay

And finally in the southeast, around Eaglehawk Nest: there is the Tasman Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen and the Tessellated Pavement.

And to be fair, the list can go on and on. This list is by no means exhaustive. This is just a snippet. And as you can see, we haven’t even touched much of the west at all!