Hobart, Port Arthur, Mt. Wellington, Cradle Mountain
World Trip Two
Thursday, May 14 2009: Melbourne-Hobart, Australia
A little bit of England.
It was a travel day most of the day. We drove from South Yarra to the Melbourne
Airport then flew south to Hobart in Tasmania. The
weather forecast was predicting rain, but we did not see it when we arrived, just
clouds and wind. We drove our rental car to Hobart and located our accommodation
in a converted Wool Store.
Then we made a short walk of the old historic part of town. Hobart's old town is
very reminiscent of Mother England, with its Victorians, and terrace homes. But
what a fantastic ambiance it created as we walked the tiny streets under the
overcast sky and next to the quicksilver bay. It is fall in the southern
hemisphere. The golden colors of the leaves on and around the trees added to the
atmosphere. We particularly enjoyed visiting Battery Point which overlooks a bay
filled by the Pacific Ocean. The thought of the next stop being Antarctica made
me remember my visit to the frozen continent.
Friday, May 15 2009: Port Arthur, Australia
The fire destroyed remains of the prison at Port Arthur.
On our drive to Port Arthur we saw the most amazing rainbow. The weather was
blowing through quite fast and some of it was rain. The
rain moving past us landed in patches all about. I think this caused the strong, and very beautiful rainbows
we saw about us.
We kept taking the wrong turns as we tried to leave Hobart; we missed our turn twice
in a row. Eventually we got it right and were on our way. The road was windy but
as there was not much traffic; once we left the city area we made good time.
Graves on the Island of the Dead.
The virus I had picked up in Melbourne had taken hold of me this morning. The
only symptoms I had were tiredness and some soreness of my throat. It
was not enough to stop me from visiting the infamous Port Arthur Penal Colony.
Once there, we made the walking tour of the grounds and took a boat tour to The
Island of the Dead, which is a small nearby island used as the colonies"
graveyard. On paper this all seems quite gruesome but in fact the place is a
natural wonderland with a very colorful history to say the least. Just to add to
its history on April 28 1996, a madman shot dead 35 tourist and others. Even
though the place is full of natural beauty it seems to be forever stained by
Saturday, May 16 2009: Mt. Wellington, Australia
Snowy Mt Wellington.
We looked out of the window and saw Mount Wellington covered in snow. I
think we are certifiably insane as immediately upon sighting this frozen
landscape we decided to head to the mountain for a hike.
A giant grabby gum tree.
Clouds, rain, sunshine and rainbows appeared and disappeared above us as we
headed up towards the snow. When we arrived at the parking lot for our hike it was covered in
snow, and snow was falling thickly around us. At the last moment we changed our
minds about climbing up further towards the summit in such unpredictable weather
conditions. Instead, we headed down below the snow level and set out in the
pouring rain along a trail lower down the mountain. Amazingly, we stayed dry,
and it seemed the thick, dark forest sheltered us from the worst weather. It
continued to vary second by second as we walked; gusts of wind followed by rain
clouds, then blue sky, then pelting rain.
Mt. Wellington is covered in trails. I fantasized about staying there for weeks
and hiking daily in the ancient forest filled with eucalypts and ferns. I had
read there's a tree in Tasmania That's 3,000 years old. It seems unbelievable.
Yet, standing in that ancient forest among enormous trees spilling over granite
boulders I could easily accept the age of such a tree.
Another enchanted forest.
It's great to be able to step into wilderness and then leave in the comfort of a
warm car. Ours seemed particularly wonderful and warm as we headed towards the
bay and Wrest Point, the first casino opened in Australia. We
arrived there to witness the Tasmanian Sci-fi convention filled with Darth
Vaders and Supermen and a multitude of otherworldly beings perusing booths in
On our way in I got bitten on the leg by an unidentified Australian critter. I
tried to dismiss from my mind that this country has the top 10 most poisonous
critters in the world, but could not help feeling slightly anxious as my leg
continued to bleed from a single deep puncture. It's now several hours later and I am still functioning well
and hungry for delicious Tasmanian seafood for dinner, so I think I will
Sunday, May 17 2009: Hobart-Cradle Mountain, Australia
Lush forests, a lake, and snow covered highlands.
We had nothing but good weather as we made our drive from Hobart to Cradle
Mountain. It was a long drive but it took us through some magnificent
forests are not as lush as New Zealand forests, but much more lush than Victoria's.
A lonely dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
The Tasmanian hinterland is dry, but nowhere near as dry as Victoria's drought
The road climbed slowly all day until we reached an inland plateau where we
encountered snow on the ground. It looked like it had snowed here just the day
before, probably at the same time it snowed on Mt. Wellington back in Hobart. We
passed a vast lake and then the paved road became a dirt track for several
kilometers. We continued on at times without seeing any signs of civilization for
hours. Eventually, the road became paved again and began to lower us from the
highlands much faster than we had climbed. The landscape changed from low and
sparsely treed to heavily forested.
After a lovely Thai meal at lunch we continued through farm lands and a road
that once again made a slow accent. Farmlands were soon replaced by sparsely
treed forests with many dead trees standing like lonely gray monoliths, or
perhaps tombstones. It turned out that early foresting activities in the area
had caused the water table to rise up and this killed more trees after the
logging was over. Still, the now partly dead forest seemed to point our way to the
highlands of Cradle Mountain just beyond.
Wally the wombat.
We arrived at the lodge and were soon checked in with daylight to spare. We
found our way to the information office and then wandered onto a short hike. It
was very cold and we wearing all of our cold weather gear that we have slowly
collected during our time in the southern hemisphere.
Julia leapt backwards on
the boardwalk trail and grabbed my arm exclaiming "Is that a Tasy Devil!"
Julia's eyesight is far superior to mine, so try as I might I was unable to see
the critter. "No, no! Right in front of you!" she continued as she saw my vacant
gaze and straining eyes. Then I saw it, a few feet before me, it was a small
brown wallaby eating something from under a log. Great find considering we had
just taken a short stroll minutes from the information office. We continued and
were greeted by a kookaburra laughing at us in the background; another stroke of
luck. On we went and then just as we were about to complete the short stroll
Julia spotted a wombat eating something intently in an open area. By jingo, what
an amazing stroll this was! To finish off Julia spotted two more wallabies on
our way back to the lodge. Thank Darwin for these amazing animals.
Cradle Mt. Video
Monday, May 18 2009: Cradle Mountain Summit, Australia
The mirror of Crater Lake.
Today consisted of a most amazing hike to near the summit of Cradle Mountain and
back. The sky was big, unclouded, and bright blue all day long. In
fact it was the best weather we"d had in Australia since we arrived. The first
part of the hike took us from the Waldheim car park to Crater Lake.
We walked along boardwalks through low marshlands covered with unidentified
domed plants. Then we came upon a river and waterfall where the scene changed to
rainforest. After a short but steep climb we arrived at the Crater Lake boat
shed, which is a very ancient shingled building, set in the most picturesque
landscape. A mirror-like lake was held in the center of rugged vertical granite
cliffs. A glacier carved wonderland. From here we climbed slowly to the rim of
the crater, and then finally scrambled up the last 200 meters to Marion's
Lookout. The view from here was extensive and gave us vistas of Crater Lake,
Lake Lila, Lake Dove, and Cradle Mountain.
Just below the summit of Cradle Mountain.
We continued on the Overland Track through a vast plateau of, snow, ice, and
water covered peat. The going was
slow as traction was always a problem. The walk let us down slowly until we
arrived at the Kitchen Hut, a well placed shelter from the normally extreme
weather. After exploring the hut we continued up to the summit of Cradle
The view from Crater Peak.
Our walking poles were very helpful for the first half of this walk but became
useless on the second half. This was because the second half was rock
scrambling, and finally low grade rock climbing all the way to the summit. We
got to within a 100 meters of the summit but gave up our attempt. During the
rest of the rock scrambling and climbing the grade had not been too steep; if we
had fallen on this part of the climb we would have been hurt but not killed.
However, on the last 100 meters the grade became so steep that if we had slipped
we would have been killed by the sudden stop at the end of a very long fall.
Keep in mind that the rocks were covered with ice and snow so this added to the
difficulty. We were both disappointed about turning back, but when we turned
around and saw the view our disappointment turned to glee. We
took two photos, one looking up at what stopped us, and one looking down below
us. We had a long way to go back down from our high perch.
Eventually we descended from Cradle Mountain and returned via Horse Track; a
different route than we had taken in the morning. This route had us climb a
steep snow covered peat hill for quite some time. The going was slow again
because of the lack of traction. The track leveled out and with one short climb
we arrived at Crater Peak. From here we stood at the highest point overlooking
Crater Lake. The view was splendid. Now we continued on Horse Track down, and
down, and down over very rough trails. We descended from the peat fields,
through rain forest, and finally back on the open marshlands. Just a little more
walking over boardwalks and we were back at our car at Waldheim car park. What
an amazing walk. From 9:00am until 4:00pm, over 15 miles, through some of the
most technical walking we had ever done; but boy was it worth it.
Cradle Mt. Summit Hike
Tuesday, May 19 2009: Dove Lake, Australia
The illusive Cradle Mountain summit.
We made another 15 mile hike today. But this time it was mainly on boardwalks
and mostly on level ground; no rock climbing. We walked out of the lodge to the
information office and picked up the trail there to Dove Lake. The walk took us
through some very beautiful frost covered marshlands, past rivers, and
we arrived at Ronny Creek car park and were greeted by two Australian native
We continued onto the Overland Trail across the marshy expanse once again, but
this time we turned at the Cradle Valley boardwalk and headed to Dove Lake. This
boardwalk was in very bad shape and was almost impassable in spots. But we
pushed on and made it to Lake Lila. This was a small but stunning lake. From
here we continued to Dove Lake and the Boat Shed where we stopped for lunch.
What a tranquil place to eat your cheese sandwich. After lunch we made the walk
around Lake Dove which was rough in places but mostly well maintained boardwalk.
The views on this part of the walk were priceless. We could see Cradle Mountain
from many differing viewpoints and finally said goodbye to it for this trip; but
we will be back as this place is worth a second look. At the Dove Lake car park
we walked down the access road back to Ronny Creek. From here we returned to the
lodge via the boardwalk and route we had taken in the morning. Along the way, as
the sun got lower, we spotted two wombats and two wallabies. Truly, this was a
Dove Lake Video
Wednesday, May 20 2009: Cradle Mountain-Hobart, Australia
Not the pub we ate lunch in.
We drove all day from Cradle Mountain to Hobart through some magnificent,
frosts, and rugged countryside. However,
we drove on the longest stretch of bendy roads both Julia and I have ever
encountered. The hairpin bends seemed to be endless and at least went on for
We stopped at Queenstown for lunch which is a very rustic old mining town, and
has been a mining town since they discovered copper there hundreds of years ago.
We ate a fresh cooked meat pie and it was very good. After lunch we continued on
for a total of eight hours of driving, much of it on bendy and narrow roads. We
were sure glad to drop off our car and check into our hotel at the Hobart
Airport. Tasmania is a very special place and, just as with New Zealand, you
must put it on your list of places to see.
Miles Flown: 9,297
Miles Hiked: 145
Miles Skied: 2
Miles Driven: 3,806
Miles Sailed: 89