Take three in Tasmania… a weekend in Cradle Mountain.  Everytime we go to Tasmania, I’m convinced it is the most beautiful place on Earth. Not even the rain on a day-long 12 km hike can dissuade me of this conviction (really truly).

Day 1

We spent Day 1 on the Dove Lake Circuit Track; 6-7 kms around the diameter of Dove Lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain on a gloriously sunny day. We had way too much fun clowning around and enjoying the sun-filled vistas.

(photo op)

(claire at cradle)

(ranger steve)

(the view from the lake)

(D&d sitting in a tree….)

After the afternoon hike, we had a nighttime animal adventure — a visit to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary for a night feeding and bus-tour around the Cradle Mountain National Park for nocturnal animal spotting!  

For those of you unfamiliar with the Tasmanian Devil, it is the world’s largest remaining (i.e., not-yet-extinct) carnivorous marsupial.  It feeds on carrion (carcasses of other animals), has a ghoulish shriek (hence, its name) and bears absolutely no resemblance to the Looney Tunes character (seriously, where do they come up with those gimmicks?). 

(he looks like Bentley chewing on a bone. only Bentley doesn’t eat wallaby carrion)

In fact, Devils are incredibly adorable, a fact I can attest to having observed them now up close and personal.  Sadly, they are endangered due to a threatened habitat (go away people!) and a facial tumor disease that has spread through the species, which is highly contagious and leads to death within months.  Sources disagree, but some indicate that they will be extinct within the next 20 years and efforts to revive the species by breeding in captivity are underway in Tasmania and on mainland Australia.  

(I am spotted quoll, and I see you!)

Though Tassie Devils have the reputation as the fiercest Australian animal, these tiny spotted quolls, are the ones I’d be afraid to meet in the woods.  There are two native species (these smaller, squirrel sized guys and a larger possum-sized species), which are also carnivorous marsupials. But unlike Devils, which feed on the dead, quolls hunt and have “a taste for blood” according to our knowledgeable guide.  They will incapacitate their prey by jumping down to attack from trees, severing the spinal cord and ripping out the throat til they get their fill… 

(so tiny, yet so scary!)

Day 2:

On Day 2, we set out for the Cradle Mountain Summit, a 12-km loop up Hanson’s Peak (the highest point we would summit at appx 1,100m), around the Cradle Mountain plateau, over Marion’ s Way and around Wombat Lake, with an incremental total elevation gain of only 300m, but a LOT of up and down along the way.  

Though the morning was “fine” (as they say in these parts), the afternoon quickly soured into fog, then sideways pelting rain and gusting winds.  Given the weather conditions, and the white wash fog reducing visibility to a few feet in front of our faces on the plateau, we opted against the summit. 

(twisted tree on the way of Hanson’s Peak)

(tree (fungus) on tree)

(the view up towards the summit)

(sigh, there’s always next time…)

 

(No really, we’re having a good time… promise!)

  

(moss on the Cradle Mountain plateau, which tells you something about the rainfall…)

(packed to the rafters in the lunch hut on the plateau)

(dad flying a kite on Marion’s Way)

(imagine Cradle Mountain just behind that massive whiteout fog cloud)

(gum trees near Wombat Lake)

(and were back to blue skies, just in time to finish the hike!)

All in all it was still a satisfying hike in spite of (or perhaps because of) the rain and a good practice for the NZ temperature and terrain ahead of us.  

Day 3:

On Monday, we headed out from Cradle Mountain National Park to Mole Creek, for a visit to its famous caves, and back to Devonport, to catch the overnight ferry back to Melbourne. The Mole Creek caves host the largest gathering of glowworms open to the public in all of Australia, a brilliant shimmering nightlight of “stars” that was quite impressive. 

(marakoopa cave)

(limestone daggers)

After an afternoon of cave dwelling, we set off for Devonport to board the Spirit of Tasmania back to the mainland.  Pictures of our trip on the ferry back to Melbourne (including Melbourne CBD at sunrise) are on the photos page.

(the coastal town of Devonport)

(Spirit of Tasmania)

 

(from twilight to sunlight…)

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