Gunning Cradle Mountain – Overland Track, Tasmania, Australia
Gunning Cradle Mountain
While holidaying in Tasmania for two weeks, travelling by car all around the “Apple Isle”, we (my wife, 17 month old son and I) arrived mid-morning at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre.
After paying for the national park pass and doing all the touristy things, we drove up to the Dove Lake car park, for a bit of a look. The weather and view were breathtaking. Dove Lake’s water was so crystal clear and in its background the rugged Cradle Mountain and its peaks, towering over the lake.
The visitor maps suggested a variety of walks, all varying in length and difficulty level.
As my wife and son didn’t feel up to walking a great distance, they returned to the visitor centre for a bit of a scout around, while I decided to do the suggested eight hour walk to the summit and back.
After a brief discussion with “the boss”, taking a water bottle, some chocolate, my faithful camera and signing in the walker’s register (at 12:09pm), I took a quick snap shot of the scenery, and set off.
Leaving Dove Lake car park (940 meters above sea level), I headed along the walking track via the boat shed and continued a mere 300 meters, where the steep Marion Lookout track branched off to the right.
Striding out at a good pace, enjoying the scenery and sunshine, I nearly stepped on what I thought was a copperhead snake, that was also enjoying the day sunbaking. It quickly slid out of the way for cover. After considering myself lucky, not having stepped onto the snake, or worse, I continued up the track.
Cradle Mountain, seen from Marion Lookout
The walking track up to Marion lookout, from Lake Dove, soon joined with the overland track and turning left, I reached Marion lookout (1223m). Looking south, the towering cradle peaks inspired a quick photo and, after a brief rest and a sip of water, I continued on to follow the overland track towards Kitchen Hut crossing the plateau in a SSW direction.
Along the way, to my right lay Kathleen’s Pool, to my left, below, the Ballroom Forest, and after crossing plateau creek, the overland track was soon intersected by another track, the horse track, joining from the right. Not long after, I passed Kitchen Hut (an emergency shelter at ca.1240m), and following a brief inspection, continued on.
The overland track soon intersects (at about 1260m), with the face track leading off to the east, from which the summit track branches off shortly after, in a southeasterly direction.
Cradle Mountain summit and Benson’s Peak in background
The climb to the peak is only about 1000 meters in distance but leads through the rugged terrain and climbs to the summit along the west face of Cradle Mountain. After a fair bit of sweating, finally, the summit at 1:47pm (1545 meters).
The 360 degree views were breathtaking and after some refreshment I set out to capture some of the scenery on film. Luck was on my side, a fellow hiker was more than happy to photograph me with my camera against the backdrop of Benson’s Peak (1368m) in the distance.
Lake Wilks (front left), Dove Lake and Honeymoon Island
Having taken in the views, I climbed back down the same way, along the summit track to meet face track that I followed east. Passing to my right the Weindorfers Tower (1459m), and to the left, below, the small Lake Wilks, with Dove Lake and the Honeymoon Island in the background, I stopped to capture it on film.
Soon after, I had the option to turn left, to follow the steep and very rugged descent to the Ballroom Forest. However, I continued on the face track towards Rangers hut (another emergency shelter at 1100m), passing Little Horn (1355m) to my right.
At Rangers hut (now 2:57pm), face track meets the more or less north/south running Lake Rodway track, and after yet another brief inspection of the hut, I continued north towards Hanson’s Peak. Along the way, to the right lay Twisted Lakes, a series of small lakes on the plateau, before reaching Hanson’s Peak (1185m), at 3:20pm. Looking back towards Cradle Mountain the views demanded yet another photo.
Little Horn, seen from Hanson’s Peak
The track continued north, down Hanson’s Peak bypassing Lake Hanson to the right, and Mt. Campbell (1248m) in the distance to the northeast. Descending further, I soon passed Truganini Point and Picnic Cove below.
Last but not least, after crossing Dove River Bridge, I signed into the walker’s registration at 3:52pm. With a huge grin on my face and a story to tell, my already waiting wife and son greeted me.
From my start at Dove Lake car park (at 12:09pm), till my safe return (at 3:52pm), I figured that the round trip that took me 3 hours 43 minutes. The hike was supposed to take 8 hours, so could only be called “gunning Cradle Mountain”.