Cradle Mountain - WOW.

After a few arguments with my co-pilot, I finally got on the right track out of Devonport to Cradle Mountain. After using the directions and mapping features on the iPhone, using a dedicated GPS seems like going back to DOS after using Mac OS X. Maybe it is just this unit, provided as part of my car rental, but what a clumsy user interface.

After programming in my destination, I started getting suspicious while, following the directions of the Aussie-accented female voice of my co-pilot, I passed signs directing me to exit to Cradle Mountain, and she kept telling me to go straight on.

So I pulled off to the side of the road, pulled out the map, and determined that she was taking me on a rather circuitous route along the major highways, when I could be taking a more direct, but zig-zaggy route through the beautiful Tasmanian countryside.

Kentish countryside.

Above: Kentish countryside.

So I turned around and started following the signs, and as she insisted that I turn back to the course she had chosen for me, I finally just put her in map-only mode to stop the whining.

After that it was a pleasant jaunt along the backroads, in and out of tiny towns, farmland, and a bit of rainforest.

Poppies in bloom.

Above: Poppies in bloom.

I got to the entrance of the National Park around noon, dropped my bag at the hotel, and proceeded to the Visitor Center, where I asked the recommendation of one of the rangers for a 3- or 4-hour hike. Pointing me at the map, she suggested the climb to Marion's Lookout, with various options from there to loop back or go further up into the range towards Cradle Mountain itself.

Then as I added myself to the line of 20 or so folks waiting for the shuttle bus up into the park, the driver called out that he had a seat for a "party of one", and since everybody else seemed to be part of a group - I got to jump ahead and ride shotgun up front with the driver.

Three hours later, I found myself at Marion's lookout and, inspired by the view, I decided I had enough water and energy head towards Cradle Mountain, take the Face Track, then drop down to Lake Wilks and than all the way down to Dove Lake and make my way back to the shuttle bus stop there.

The Face Track was interesting - a very narrow track along the base of a massive wall of rock, the highest part of which is cradle mountain. But the track was well marked, with a combination of stakes, stacks of rock, and paint flashes on sections of bare rock. And the views were magnificent.

Looking down on Lake Wilks and Dove Lake from the Face Track

Above: Looking down on Lake Wilks and Dove Lake from the Face Track.

The scramble down off the face to Lake Wilks, and then on to Dove Lake was just as hard on the legs as the climbing getting up there, and by the time I got to down to the elevation of Dove Lake, my legs were starting to complain. And I ran out of water about halfway around Dove Lake, but I made it back to the parking lot just in time to catch the last of the once-every-ten-minutes shuttles before they switched to the once-an-hour evening schedule.

Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background.

Above: Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background.

All in all, a great walk in beautiful country.