I had a few false starts in getting to Tasmania. But luckily chances kept coming up for me. Finally, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend there. Now with only two days to explore one part of this beautiful and adventure packed state I had to chose wisely. I decided to chose an area where I could feel like I had done everything I wanted to do over the duration of my stay. I also wanted to give Jake’s new hiking shoes a workout.
I decided on Cradle Mountain.
Now there is certainly enough hiking trails and natural beauty to keep you captivated in Cradle Mountain National Park for more than two days, but I found that with a 3 year old in tow we were able to complete all the age appropriate trails in the park in 2 days (and one 24 hour park pass).
The month was July. The air had a fresh chill. There were small patches of snow on the ground. Little snowmen made appearances all along the different hiking trails. The weather was fantastic for hiking. The chill was just enough to keep you at a comfortable temperature as you hiked. We didn’t dress in anything too technical; just long pants, a fleece, a light jacket, hat and gloves.
Day 1 was a little bit overcast. We decided to chose two shorter forest walks and leave the more open Dove Lake circuit until the next day when hopefully skies would clear. There were four walk options which were covered and easy for little legs, but one was closed due to track erosion. It made our decision making easier and we decided to start with the Enchanted Walk (20 minute circuit) which connected to the King Billy Walk (30 minute circuit) and then finish with the Pencil Pines Rain forest Walk (10 minute circuit) which ended at the interpretation centre.
The Enchanted Walk was a great walk to start our adventure. The easy boardwalk took us through a variety of landscapes and featured little nooks and tunnels were children could play and learn about the environment around them. Early on in the track we had a very close encounter with the local environment. We looked behind us on the boardwalk to find that a fat little wallaby was meandering along behind us on the boardwalk. We stopped to watch him as we wandered around, scratched his back on a tree log, before disappearing down into his burrow.
The King Billy Walk was slightly more strenuous with more sections of stairs and inclines, but overall was a very easy walk. This walk is in the rain forest and highlights include some of the massive and ancient rain forest trees.
The last walk, the Pencil Pines Rain forest walk is a very short walk. There is a look out where you can see the Pencil Pines Falls and the walk terminates at the interpretation centre.
The next day was saved for bluer skies and a longer walk. Only a certain number of vehicles are allowed into the national park at any one time, so if you don’t want to end up queuing, you are best off parking your vehicle at the information centre and taking the free shuttle. We rode the shuttle all the way to the end of the line – Dove Lake.
The Dove Lake circuit is a 2 – 3 hour circuit around, you guess it, Dove Lake. This 6km walk is Cradle Mountain National Parks most popular walk and also features in the 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania book. The circuit is made up of boardwalk, gravel trails and sections of steps. It’s relatively easy and can be completed by any fitness level. There are several spots along the circuit with benches and rest areas if you need a break. Jake marched the entire 6 km circuit without complaining or being asked to be picked up once. Of course it helped that we have a rule, “when you are wearing your hiking shoes, its against the law to get carried.” So far it works well. We also kit him out with his own little backpack that equipped with a child size hydration bladder.
There are a couple other easy grade hikes in the park, but if you complete the ones that I did you will get a good amount of variety.
My first taste of Tasmania was addictive. We saw so many unique creatures, and Jake really proved himself by walking a combined 10 km’s without getting picked up once. It looks like Cradle Mountain will be the start of our family hiking adventures.