Friday, September 03, 2010

Dove Lake Circuit

From my old blog, 17th June 2006...

It’s the tail end of June school holidays in Tassie and I have had the past couple of weeks off work.  The break has been dominated by all manner of family activities with barely a day to spare.

With so much to do in the two weeks, I knew opportunities to head bush would be limited.  Therefore, with not much happening on the first weekend, it was time to plan a family trip into the mountains.

The weather forecast for Sunday and Monday was terrific.  One cool, crisp, still, clear sunny day followed by another.  The Cradle Mountain area was chosen for our family foray and a 2 bedroom, 8 bunk cabin behind Waldheim Chalet was duly booked.

After a pit stop at Railton, we bypassed Sheffield and continuing cautiously through the icy hairpin bends of the Cethana Gorge.  Next stop was my in-law’s ‘shack’ at Moina.

The ‘shack’ sits on a 5 acre clearing beside Lake Gairdner, which is formed by the Wilmot Dam at the confluence of the Iris and Lea Rivers.  On this particular morning, the frost was very heavy and sheets of ice had formed around the lakes shore.

Back on the road, we had a quick stop at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to pick up our key and then it was on to Dove Lake for our walk.

The walk starts by crossing the lake outlet where the Dove River is born.  The dramatic Glacier Rock is a worthwhile detour but care must be taken to keep children under a tight rein so they don’t get too close to the edge.
Along the eastern side of the lake, 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter jostled for the lead while our one year old son sang happily from his perch on my back.

Less than an hour’s walk brought us to a lunch platform situated amidst giant button-grass tussocks right below the part of Cradle Mountain known as Weindorfers Tower.
After lunch, the track changes as it sidles some cliffs with water lapping below the walkway.  The spectacular ballroom forest is a feature of the western shore where ancient species of alpine plants seem to cling impossibly to the steep slopes of the Cradle Plateau.  Once again, it was less than an hour of walking that returned us to the car park.

A short drive led us around to our accommodation.  It soon became apparent that a permanent electricity supply had been connected since our last visit.  A new walking track linking the Visitor Centre with Cradle Valley provided an opportunity a couple of years ago to bring services such as power, sewerage and communications into the park.

Once settled in our cabin, we strolled around the nature walk through Weindorfers Forest dominated by huge old Pencil and King William Pines.
Waldheim Chalet at Cradle Valley

Next day, we packed up and returned to the Visitor Centre where we walked around what the children call the ‘Wheelchair Walk.’  A 500 metre long ramp/boardwalk leads through several types of alpine plant community before arriving at a lookout beside Pencil Pine Falls.
The prehistoric looking plants at the back of this frosty scene are Richea Pandanifolia or Pandanis to us normal folk.  They are also called Giant Heath and are the world's largest heath plant.
From the Cradle Mountain area, we decided to return home via Burnie on the North West Coast.  The new road (about 15 years old) heads over the Black Bluff Range where we took advantage of the cloudless skies and walked to a lookout just a short distance uphill from the highest point on the road.  At the lookout, a plaque lists the major mountains and their distances.

Our final outdoor stroll was a brief visit to the ghost town of Guilford.  In the past, this was a busy spot at the junction of the Emu Bay Railway from Burnie to Mount Bischoff (Waratah) and its southern extensions to Rosebery and Zeehan.

One of the great things about bushwalking in Tassie is the wide range of bushwalks available.  The wilderness that provided such a challenge to early explorers is still largely intact and opportunities abound for the hard-core walker.  However, as this weekend illustrated, there is plenty of walking suitable for those with more tame ambitions such as families with small children.

No comments: