Sunday, 24 April 2016

Cradle Mountain, ANZAC weekend

After our epic Walls of Jerusalem trip last year, ML was a little envious. However since she's not really the camping type I suggested Cradle Mountain this year instead. And so I booked the Spirit for ANZAC weekend, which is traditionally the time for peak Fagus.
It was pouring when we left Melbourne on Thursday night, and co-ordinating kids, self and wife (in the pouring rain) proved a challenge. They've done the ship up since last year, and the food and service was great. We had smooth seas and arrived to fine weather in Devonport, and a spectacular Tassy dawn on the drive to Cradle which was very pretty.
After checking in, we immediately got walking and managed to knock off several of the more local hiking loops including the Dove Canyon Gorge where we bumped into some canyoners who were all looking fairly cyanosed. The rainforest was bursting with autumn fungi of every shape and colour, and the King Billys and Pencil Pines were amazing as always. Lunch at the Chalet and then checked out the quolls and devils.

I woke early the next day and set off for some trail running on several of the bigger local loops. It was obviously going to be a cracking day, and I got some amazing views of the Cradle massif. There was lots of wildlife still about. 

After breaky we drove to Ronny Creek and set off on the overland track, branching up to Crater Lake. It was soon obvious that we'd struck Peak Fagus. It was very beautiful, with many trees in full traffic-light colours, and some very Zen-garden moments.

Crater Lake itself was just too beautiful. It seemed otherworldly, or at least otherlandish, maybe a scene from Canada or Japan rather than our own back yard. And there were tourists from every corner of the planet out to see it.

The views from Marions were speccy. Then we climbed down to Dove Lake itself and did an anti-clockwise circuit, stopping at Truganini Beach for lunch and a brief swim in some very cold water.

Next day we had a sluggish start owing to the interesting traffic congestion tactics deployed by Parks Tasmania, which whilst probably necessary, are challenging. Having given up on driving past the boom gates, each shuttle bus coming from the visitor centre seemed to only have room for one or two people, which is difficult with kids. There is talk of building a gondola, which is probably a sensible option. Anyway, it was another glorious day, and we started climbing up the Lake Rodway Track to Hansons Peak, and then around past Lake Hanson and Twisted Lakes which were still and very pretty. Our goal was to try and get the kids to summit Cradle Mountain, however by the time we'd got to Kitchen Hut it was obvious that we wouldn't have enough time if we wanted to get back to catch the bus. So ML took the kids back along the trail to descent down to Lake Wilks for a late lunch whilst I had a quick sprint up to the summit. I put my head down and just followed the crampon scratches and made a random col in 10 minutes, only to realise it was the col south of the false peak south of Cradle. I had to climb around a Dolerite jungle gym to get to the proper col marked with poles, and then on up to the true summit and some great veiws, before a quick sprint back down to join the fam. Not sure I would have been happy taking the kids up there anyway - there were wives and girlfriends freaking out everywhere. Scoped out some ski lines, but you'd need a lot of snow.
From Lake Wilks, the girls and I pretty much ran the whole way back. They're right into their trail running now and it wont be long before they put me to shame.

We got some lovely afternoon light waiting in the mile-long queue for the bus, and then again once back at the lodge. The food at the lodge is fantastic.

We scored a 4th magnificent day on ANZAC day, and whilst I would have liked to have attended the dawn service on offer, we were all too knackered and slept through our alarms. We had breaky, checked out, and then walked up the Cradle Valley walk to Ronney Creek, and then up to see the old Weindorfer Chalet and the forest. What a life that guy led!
Then back to the car and Devonport to jump on the ferry.
Cradle Mountain is indeed a National Monument, and has certainly proven one of our best ever family getaways!

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