A (small) guide to Cradle Mountain

I like the idea of hiking. In my mind it’s romanticised with the dew-drop coated flora and sun soaked skies that glimmer hazy blue. The notion of ‘alone’ and personal panoramas of endless, wild mountains dote the minds eye.

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It is all these thing in reality; conditions given, with the added distasteful’s of 5:30am wakeup calls, demanding uphill ascents (which admittedly do wonders for the legs), and sweat drenched crowns that attract the chilly mountain breezes when you reach that elusive plateau. It’s in no sense glamorous and my endless task of finding the perfect black hiking boot proves fruitless within the scope of various shades of brown after brown that seems to be the standard.

Having grown up on one of the worlds remote islands, far too south to even hint at tropical yet slightly too north to claim glacier clad wonder,  unique and stunning nature is something of a given. Having roamed the world the refreshing air, the space and open skies, the mountains and the rivers of Tasmania draw me back continuously. It’s a place where the essence is calm.

Of course, with Tasmania as my backyard, the endless wonder to explore I still suffer that terrible curse of taking it for granted as daily life becomes the constant, and the radius of exploration shortens dramatically.

So there I found myself, bleary eyed and with a old friend on somewhat of a rescue mission (in which I am completely useless) in one of Tasmania’s most special treasures. As you wind the narrow roads, and pass through our gloriously humble country towns the scenery shifts, the trees grow taller, the farmland switches for the prehistoric looking button grass and the rivers ebb and flow with a glass-like reflection. The drive is as much of the adventure and a true indication that you are in for a real treat.

The overland track is one of Tasmania’s biggest exports; 6 days of hiking within pure wild. The primary Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake being the poster child that most are content with viewing from the minimum exertion carpark before quickly continuing on with their island escape. It’s a terrible shame, as the entailing trails provide so much more than the standard quick glimpse that’s indicative of checkbox tourism today. Guilty myself of still not walking the Overland I can say that day one, if you were to partake is a bloody ripper. With the steep ascent to Marion’s lookout passing through lowlands, rainforest, hugging lakes and a rocky scamper it’s a demanding yet relatively quick climb for views that are commanding of a far tougher journey. Continue on along the overland track and you’ll be quickly seduced into the idea of partaking in that 6-day trail. Various scatterings of snow glow brilliant white against the mossy plateau, the Cradle rising grimacingly to your left. The Kitchen Hut soon encountered shows how tough the condition can get (albeit rarely) with both a lower entrance door and upper entrance door complete with snow shovel for when the brutal Tasmanian winter really rears its head.

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Continue to find pristine pools as clear as glass stretching out infinitely over mountain edges, jagged and brilliantly white knuckles of the unique dolerite rock punching into the sky and bare gumtrees teetering on mountain side, clinging at inconceivable angles, twisted by the roaring winds that rip through the valley.

1416186It’s a mesmerising landscape that catches my breath and carves secret smiles into my face when I grab moments of that ‘completely alone’ feeling. As much as love the idea of this island remaining the secret that I share with the lucky few that call this place home, it seems the secret is being whispered, and understandably so. So I hope that you can treasure this touch of paradise as do I, and I’ll keep my real secret places secret, because I do adore alone. x

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