After our brief albeit fulfilling visit to Freycinet National Park and the East Coast of Tasmania, it was time to head inland to our second destination, Cradle Mountain National Park. The journey was four hours long, although this time we remembered to buy goodies from the supermarket in Bicheno the previous night and to also make cheese sandwiches for lunch to eat in the car. Sure enough, we passed no towns for at least three hours. Our view was mostly of vast, flat farm land.
The first town we passed was Railton, the self-assessed Town of Topiary. Exhilarated as we were to be there, Alex unfairly insisted we were to keep going to make it to our destination sooner. Unfortunately as we didn’t stop I was unable to secure any photographs of the amazing topiaries on offer in Railton. Railton also bought up an interesting conversation in our little car. Alex asked, “If you could choose to have any one topiary, which would you choose?” This was a really tough question to answer as there are just so many incredible options to choose from.
The second town we passed was Sheffield which was more promising and with a wider array of shops and cafes. Obviously trying to surpass its neighbour, Sheffield is a town-of-something too. Sheffield: Town of Murals. Again, I do not have photos of any Sheffieldian murals, but let your imagination run wild.
After the three hours of sparse countryside, the scenery began to change. In the distance we could see rough, jagged mountains, no doubt covered in snow in the winter (and it turned out, rather regularly in the springtime too). As we commenced the incline up the mountain we were suddenly surrounded by forest. Winding through the mountain for some time, we eventually arrived at our middle-of-nowhere lodge. The temperature had severely dropped and the sky became grey and misty.
As we entered our cabin we were greeted with a toasty gas fireplace and a lovely view of the woodland beyond our balcony. A true rainforest cottage.
We were informed of several hikes surrounding our accommodation. Although not in Cradle Mountain National Park itself, there was plenty to do. We decided to go on a hike to a nearby waterfall. The walk was slightly muddy and much to my horror, I attracted two baby leeches. Nevertheless, the waterfall was lovely and serene and it was a nice way to spend our afternoon after a long drive.
On our return to our lodging we saw what looked like a giant rat skittle away upon our approach. “What was that?” we asked each other. I insisted it was a water rat of some kind. Turned out it was a pademelon, and that the area was rampant with them. I had never heard of these creatures. Much like wallabies, they have a kangaroo-like appearance but are much smaller and more rat-like.
We spent the night feasting by the fireplace in the restaurant at our lodging. After dinner, the scraps from the kitchen were tossed outside for the nightly pademelon feeding, where we got to see several of the little darlings munching away. Our favourite part was the sound of their nibbling. Very cute.
The next day, we headed out to Cradle Mountain National Park. The weather was unusually magnificent. Later in the week the temperature was to be maximum 8 to 10°C, with snow expected on the peaks. Our day in Cradle Mountain was 18°C and sunny. Very pleased with this.
We arrived at the tourist centre to be told that the park’s car park was full, and that we were to catch a free bus to the national park. This was actually a blessing, because the road from the tourist centre to the park was ridiculously narrow and windy. On the way we saw a few wild wombats.
There were several hikes to do at Cradle Mountain. We decided on the Dove Lake Circuit Walk. Dove Lake is one of the main attractions of Cradle Mountain. It is nestled by the tall peaks of the mountain and is more vast in size than appearances let on. The circuit walk took us about two and a half hours, and was rather lovely.
As our accommodation was in the middle of nowhere and the restaurant only had one vegetarian item on the menu, we decided to head off back to Sheffield (the town of murals, recall?) to eat an extraordinarily late lunch of delicious hamburgers, and to pick up something for dinner. As our room only had a kettle, our options for dinner were limited so we decided on powdered soup and potato chips. Dinner of champions. We spent the night raiding the lodge’s board game closet and I proceeded to show Alex my awesome Scattegories skills.