Day 11 Tuesday 26 September Cradle Mountain

We woke this morning to a white winter wonderland as it had snowed overnight – everything looked magical. Katharine, Steve & the boys called in to our cabin and then we all went to breakfast together at the Lodge.
After breakfast, we got organised and drove down to Dove Lake, which is a very popular visitor attraction and is circled by a six-kilometre track, some of which is a boardwalk. Dove Lake was formed by glaciation and the area has lots of Tasmanian Beech, snow Gums, tussock grasses and pencil pines. Steve put Henry into the pram as we thought that most of the track would be boardwalk, however we soon discovered that there were lots of steps and the track we walked on was mainly dirt/gravel and many stone steps and only a short section of boardwalk.
As we followed the track and boardwalk around the lake, it snowed lightly on us – how amazing!. We soon came to the Boatshed, which was built, using King Billy pine, in 1940 by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell. The Boatshed is currently vacant, but boating was popular on the lake up to the 1960s. There were a lot of people coming and going at the Boatshed but after waiting a while and with some degree of patience, we managed to get some beautiful photos of Dove Lake, the Boatshed and Cradle Mountain shrouded in cloud and mist, without any people in the photos! What a magic place!
After walking back to the car in the rain and snow, we stopped in at Gustav Weindorfer’s house Waldheim Chalet was originally built between 1912 and the early 1920s. It was largely the vision of Gustav and Kate Weindorfer that led to the construction of the chalet and the creation of the national park. The Chalet, which they named Waldheim meaning “forest home”, provides visitors with an insight into the Cradle Mountain area and the people who played a role in the establishment of the national park.
From there, we drove up to the Visitor’s Centre and had a look at the various displays and items for sale before having lunch in the Cradle Mountain Café. After lunch, we dropped Steve and the boys back at their cabin so the boys could have a sleep/rest and Katharine and us went to the Discovery Centre where they had a small convenience store so that we could get some fruit (which they didn’t have) and some biscuits to replenish our supplies. We also had a wander around the Peppers Lodge grounds.
While the boys were having their afternoon rest, we returned to our cabin to read for a while. Richard went out onto the verandah to take some more photos and saw that there was a wombat just outside Katharine & Steve’s cabin, so he went up quietly and managed to get within a metre of the wombat to get some good photos. When Patrick rang our cabin to say that Henry was awake and would we like to go and have afternoon tea with them, we told them about the wombat and Patrick and Henry and the two of us went outside to take more photos and discovered that there were two wombats.
After afternoon tea, we all went on a couple of the suggested walks. The first one took us down the Pencil Pine track to the Pencil Pine Waterfall, which was very powerful and very loud and very beautiful. As we walked along the boardwalk through the forest, there were many types of beautiful lichen growing on the trees and along the ground in different shades of vivid green through to brown. There was also patches of snow still remaining from last night’s fall but most of the rest of the snow in the area, including around our cabin, had melted.
We also did the Enchanted Nature Walk – this short trail took us on a boardwalk through the forest and we walked underneath a canopy of gnarled myrtle-beech trees and towering pencil pines and we were able to stop and look at the soft mosses that were all over the trees and also on the forest floor. As we walked along, we could hear the sound of the mountain stream, Pencil Pine Creek, and we could smell the fragrance of the foliage. We came across three interpretive tunnels that Patrick & Henry explored – they had displays that explained the flora and fauna of the area and encouraged the young ones to look out for different plants and animals. We kept our eyes peeled for wombats, but we didn’t see any on the trail but we did see some pademelons. This walk brought us over a bridge across the Pencil Pine Creek and we came out beside the Lodge. We were back in time to have showers and be ready for our 5.30 booking at the Highland Restaurant. Sandy took her phone out of the rice and very gingerly turned it on and was very surprised and very grateful when it came to life!! We had a lovely meal in the restaurant with its big open fire-place and the boys charmed the waitress and the other staff members. Steve took the boys back to their cabin to settle them for the night while we finished our drinks. The two us went up to Katharine & Steve’s cabin for a cuppa and a chat after the boys were asleep. We were pleased that we only had a short walk back to our cabin as the outside temperature had dropped to -1°.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our short stay in Cradle Mountain – the remoteness of the mountains with the twisted, lichen-covered trees and the mountain streams and the beautiful Dove Lake and our unexpected white winter wonderland this morning were all that we had hoped it would be and more!

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