When in Australia, do what the Australians do (Day 170)
What a long, yet fabulous trip to Cradle Mountain - 9 hours drive, but hey - When in Australia, so what the Australians do!
When we lived back in England, I can’t imagine us one day taking the day off work, getting up early and driving all the way from Oundle to Dumfries or Torquay, walking around a large lake and then driving home again. Of course, we wouldn’t. However, Australians wouldn’t think twice about doing something like that. Since being here, I’ve been in touch with Dean who runs the 3P Australian FB group. He very kindly invited us to “pop down and see me, I live 5 hours from Sydney”. Pop down? 5 hours?
Well, Tim and I are obviously becoming Australian – this morning we got up early and headed off to Cradle Mountain to walk around Dove Lake and then back again. 4.5 hours there, 4.5 hours back. Are we mad?
We stopped off at JJs Bakery in Longford for something to eat; a nice fairly basic place. We noticed that included in the full breakfast was Kranksi. What on earth is that? I tried to find it on google. No such luck. Eventually, a lovely young waitress came to serve us and we asked what it was. Turns out it should have read Kransky. I wonder if it was a Helle’s Cheese Kransky which won the “Supreme Sausage” Award at the Great New Zealand Sausage Competition, Hang on a minute – wrong country!
We picked up some lunch and off for the next half of the drive. Tim is brilliant. He does all the driving. I’m not sure why we haven’t discussed it. Driving doesn’t bother me, I used to drive all over Britain when I was training.
During the journey, I thought I’d use the time to do some writing for #GrownUpTravellers. I’d just finished writing some text for the “Before Ya Go” page, looked up and could see that the mobile phone map was rerouting – argh – we missed a turning. Do we carry on the detour or turn back. We decided on the latter, wasted 20 minutes. The good thing is that we take this kind of setback in our stride these days. Tim has always been good at that, I probably would have blamed him I’m embarrassed to say. Just no need for that now. All a load of unnecessary drama.
We needed to get some more petrol so veered off to Sheffield. It’s so funny how many UK names we see. Just today we have passed signs for Richmond, Chigwell, Epping Forest, Tunbridge and Swansea! Now, where are we? The Sheffield over here, a rural town, is famous for its murals which trace the history of the area including stories of various local characters from the past.
A short while after leaving Sheffield, there in front of us was an ominous looking Mountain with sheer cliffs looming high into the sky. We stopped a few times to take some photos. As we were driving nearer, the satnav said that we still had an hour to go. Further investigation, it turned out that this was Mount Roland, not Cradle Mountain as we had expected – Doh!
Gradually the terrain changed from open fields to a forest of gum trees. The roads became steeper with quite a few hairpin bends as we climbed up into the mountain range. Eventually we came to Cradle Mountain Road. The surrounding area was rather forlorn, there were quite a number of dead trees dotted around, trees looking like skeletons, stripped down to the core. I was intrigued. Why?
This condition is known as rural tree decline or dieback and is the result of a number of problems such as drought, poor land management, ever-growing number of possums stripping the leaves and insect devastation. It seems hard to imagine that this area has been experiencing many years of drought (see later). Such a shame. However I must stay that we did see that many saplings have been planted in some areas, we think these were eucalyptus trees.
We finally arrived with the rain joining us. There was a barrier across the road with notices about having a pass. I had read details of the walk we were about to embark on, yet no mention of barriers or passes. We found the information desk. Due to this now being a heritage site, they are reducing the number of cars to the area and also charging for the upkeep of it. We paid for our passes and, as time was ticking on and the shuttle buses only were in action unto 4:30 pm, we decided to use our car. Back to the barrier, which allowed us through to the car park of the Dove Lake Circuit walk.
When we arrived, the heavens opened. Both Tim and I were adamant that we were going to do this walk, come rain or shine. It was raining so hard that within minutes we were like drowned rats. Our trousers were wet to the skin, or was it bone? For some reason, I thought the whole experience was hysterical and for the first 10 minutes of our walk was crying with laughter. I wasn’t too sure what I was laughing at, but just couldn’t stop! Eventually, I calmed down. Despite the rain, the walk was wonderful. We were so lucky that we decided to go clockwise (the book said anticlockwise) as we were sheltered by the woodland that was covering the side of the mountain. Gradually as this petered out, the rain stopped. By the time we had walked round to the other side of the lake, the low cloud had lifted and the blue sky started to appear.
The view was incredible, we were walking beneath the towering spires of the Cradle Mountain. At one time I said to Tim “Have you got the point?” meaning – had he taken a photo of the spire, to which he replied, “What’s the point?” How we laughed. It did have cloud covering the top at the time. Mmm doesn’t sound so funny in black and white.
At the southern end of the Lake, we entered an area called the Ballroom Forest. It was magical with ancient myrtle beech trees covered with lichen with a mossy floor. We both so enjoy walking through woody areas, and this was extra special with the mountain in the background and the sound of the waves in the lake, splashing on the shoreline. Of course, it was special – it is included in the Lonely Planet’s top 500 of the world – Tick!
We arrived back at the car in record time – 2 hours (the book said 3 hours, however, we weren’t hanging around much). Back in the car and Tim managed to drive back through the winding roads to the main Highway 1 before it got dark. Perfect. And what a perfect, yet crazy day – I think we will sleep well tonight…zzz