Cradle Mountain is one of the main tourist attractions in Tasmania, due to its natural beauty. It forms the northern end of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, which shares a “Twin Parks” agreement with the World Heritage listed Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve in China (中国的九寨沟). I have yet to visit the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, but I made sure that my Tasmanian holidays included a day tour to the beautiful Cradle Mountain. 🙂
I signed up for the day tour with Coach Tours Tasmania and the tour guide was David, same as the Low Head Penguin tour I went to on my first night. Pickup at hotel was about 8.45am and there were 5 other passengers going to Cradle Mountain together that day. I like the idea that it was a small tour group, easier to move about.
Enroute to Cradle Mountain, which is about 2.5 hours drive from Launceston city, we stopped by the beautiful towns of Railton and Sheffield, within the Kentish Municipality.
Railton is a very small town with a population of only 900 as of the 2006 census. According to Wikipedia, Railton was first surveyed in 1853 and a railway line through the town from Deloraine to Latrobe was completed in 1885. Early settlers, mainly farmers and timber workers, lived in slab huts. The wide main street was built to make life easier for the bullock teams making their way to the railway station. By the 1900s Railton had a flourishing timber trade with 2 sawmills. However, it is now the “Town of Topiary” as it has several topiaries around the town. Check out the lovely topiaries below:
The town was really very quiet and we only saw a cafe bakery, supermarket, gift shop and little hotel. But it looks like a charming little town where one can simply relax. The gift shop owner told us that he moved here from Melbourne many years ago to “escape” and he never thought of going back. Haha
A short drive of about 15 min later brought us to the “Town of Murals” – Sheffield. Sheffield is slightly larger than Railton with a population of about 1,400 as at the 2006 census. To revive and reinvent the town of Sheffield after the population decline in 1973 with the completion of the power scheme, it started to work on mural art. The first mural in Sheffield was unveiled in December 1986. Since then over 60 murals depicting the area’s rich history and beautiful natural scenery have been painted on walls scattered throughout the town and buildings along the roadside. The murals attract an estimated 220,000 people to the town annually.
We were given about 45 min of free time to tour the town and pack something for lunch at Cradle Mountain later. The pictures I took below are the old murals that have been around for many years. They can be identified easily because they are painted directly on the buildings. Newer murals from the annual International Mural Fest held since 2003 are painted on boards and then put up as exhibits in and around the town.
There were really a lot of beautiful murals but I didn’t have time to take pictures of all of them. I bought toasted smoked salmon sandwiches, served with chips and salad, from the Sheffield Motor Inn Cafe for A$9 and a cup of hot chocolate with marshallow for A$3.80 as I was “freezing” from the low temperature. The food was good and reasonably priced for the huge portion I got. Too bad I didn’t manage to take picture of it before eating in the mountain. 😛
Stopping by the 2 towns was a good prelude to the highlight of the day – Cradle Mountain, which I will detail in the next post. 🙂