After stopping by the 2 quaint little towns, we arrived at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre around noon. It was a clear day with a temperature of about 6-7 degrees celsius. Shortly after David paid for the park entry fees (A$16.50 per 18+ year old adult daily), we drove towards the Dove Lake region, where we would begin our nature walk.
As part of the conservation efforts to preserve the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, there is strict control on the number of cars and mini-buses allowed to drive in the park. There is a shuttle bus service operated by McDermotts Coaches on behalf of the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service so visitors are strongly encouraged to use this service. When driving in the park, David had to inform the Park Ranger through a walkie-talkie regularly on where we were (using the numbered markers on the side of the narrow lane) as well as the traffic condition in front of us.
Along the way to the lake, we were welcomed by cute & chubby wombats in the wild! David advised us that we should approach them quietly in front instead of from their back as their sense of smell is better than sight. So if they smell us from the back first they may be scared and run off thinking we are “enemies”.
We were all delighted at our first encounter of Australian wildlife here in the mountains, and I was especially happy that I managed to take the shots above. I shall park more pictures below instead of writing so much for your viewing pleasure hehe.
There are a number of short walks from Dove Lake and also a longer walk around the circuit that will take about 2 hours or so. We were given the option to choose, and if there were anyone in the group who preferred the short walks, David would go along with the short walk and leave the others to do the long walk on their own. In the end, all of us decided to do the long walk so we all did it together. Check out my photos along the way. 🙂
We stopped for lunch after about 45 min, when there was a big wooden bench available for rest by the lake. It was a great feeling having lunch under the sun but not feeling hot, by the beautiful lake overlooking the mountain, not a common thing for a city girl like me haha. Too bad it started to drizzle and we had to quickly finish the food. The journey after lunch became slightly more difficult as we had to climb numerous big steps uphill and then hiked down the rocky slopes.
We completed the Dove Lake circuit track (5.7km, one way) in approximately 2.5 hours including lunch stop. I was so glad I successfully completed it, because when we were moving downhill on the rocky slopes, I was quite scared but had the encouragement and help from fellow tour mates from Taipei who kept me going. This was not the end of our adventure in the park though, as there was another short 20 min walk at Weindorfers Forest, the area around Weindorfer’s Chalet.
The rustic Weindorfer’s chalet was once home for Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian-born Australian who was the founding father of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. The forest is filled with ancient King Billy pines, celery-top pines and myrtles.
It was barely 4pm but already quite dark in the forest. As you can see from the picture above, the pine trees in the forest were all so huge! As we walked out of the forest, there was another surprise waiting for us – wallaby!
We only spotted 1 wild wallaby. It belongs to the family Macropodidae that is smaller than a kangaroo. They are found primarily in Australia and on nearby islands. Wallabies are herbivorous and the bulk of their diets is grasses and plants. They have powerful hind legs they use to bound along at high speeds and jump great distances. When wallabies are threatened by predators, or when males battle each other, they may also use these legs to deliver powerful kicks.
We were pretty lucky that it only started to pour heavily when we were done for the day at Cradle Mountain. Despite having to hike for more than 2 hours and occasionally uneven and rocky terrain, it was a great day out to experience the wild and take in the beautiful scenery! The last stop for our tour was at Ashgrove Cheese Factory where we could enjoy free tastings of the wild variety of cheese available. I bought some yummy cheese strips back home as momento. ^^
I enjoyed this tour tremendously, especially since I had friendly tour mates and a very professional and knowledgeable tour guide like David. He provided a lot of information during the tour and when we asked him anything on Launceston, or even Tasmania, he would provide the information quickly too, like a walking encyclopedia.:P I would highly recommend friends to join a tour conducted by his Coach Tours Tasmania!