Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tasmania, the hidden jewel of Australia 2011/08/01-15 day 3

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The drive to our exciting 6 day hike!!! A 100-ish km (including side trips) hike of rugged mountains, alpine gardens, waterfalls, temperate rainforests, lakes & tarns, and unique wildlife!!!!

Picked up Jono from Launceston town, and straight we head down to Cradle mountain national park.
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Frozen morning dews…

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halfway, Mole creek town…

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Finally we reached the cradle mountain national park, got to get ourselves the tasmania national park pass, read whether there’s any new notice regarding the trail etc.



Cradle mountain national park on the northern end is join with Lake st clair national park on the southern end. Together they form cradle mountain-lake st.clair national park which were united in the 1930s. Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer first visited Cradle Mountain in 1910 and really liked it. He purchased some land and built by 1912 a chalet for guests. Then, he work tirelessly for a decade to have the area declared a national park "for the people for all time". His dream was realised in 1922, and today a quarter of all visitors to the state travel here to share his vision.

This big national park is now part of Tasmanian wilderness World heritage area. And this park is very famous for its overland track that is basically 80km from one end to the end without including all the side trails.

In 2005, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service introduced a booking system and fee for use of the Overland Track over peak periods. Initially the fee was 100 Australian dollars, but this was raised to 150 Australian dollars in 2007. The money that is collected is used to finance the park ranger organisation, track maintenance, building of new facilities and rental of helicopter transport to remove waste from the toilets at the huts in the park. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_Mountain-Lake_St_Clair_National_Park). Now it’s even more i think, lol. It’s just too famous, that more money is needed for proper maintenance of the track and protect the national park.

The good thing of doing this overland track in winter is that you don’t have to pay the track fee because the track is not maintained during winter, nor are they any ranger walking up and down the track. Furthermore, they are really very few people that do it in the winter compared to hundreds during summer till autumn which are the peak seasons. (Don't do it in winter if you are alone unless you are experienced)

Besides, best of all, you can have the whole wilderness of the park pretty much to yourself and the huts are free to use without the need to compete for spaces, rush, smell, listening to snoring, etc. Also one can do the track both ways from north to south or vice versa in winter and spring, but only north to south during peak seasons.
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Getting ourselves ready, repack our stuff again, doing last minute decisions, leave the car, then hop on the cradle mountain bus to get to our starting point. Alex being our experienced hiker will be doing this overland track the 3rd time this time, but 1st time in winter.

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Here you go, this is where the bus dropped us, ronny creek car park. Instantly i saw the famous carrawong bird that pretty much looks like a crow but bigger, and sharper long beak!!! Famous carrawong eh?? They are so used to humans these days that they find food and steal food from backpacks left unguarded. They even know where and how to open a zip!!!!! I heard many people has this unfortunate event.

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And so here we are at the official starting point of the overland track!!! (one can start way further up, but most people normally starts from here or from dove lake further up). Because we wanted to do the whole overland track from end to end, we decided to start here.

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The start of the track is pretty flat, nice and easy with board walks to cater for varieties of visitors to enjoy the area. Many people here did day walks as far as up to the cradle mountain and back. click for enlarge view


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Wombats just right at the start of the track!!! A mother and a young pup!!!

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The 1st small tarn with frozen ice sheets i saw!!! Looking back after a while, hmmm……

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The hike/walk starts to be a bit more rugged and difficult, but the view changed dramatically too from flatland button grass to more alpine trees and from here onwards, the horizon opens up to the rugged mountains of different mountain ranges. SImply breathtaking!!!

Something you hardly see in tropical countries is lakes on mountains!!! The view of water and mountain and blue clouds just blows me away!!!

The pic on top was Jono enjoying the crater lake near the boatshed, having our light snacks!!! Again one can sit there for a whole day!!!!

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Heading up to Marion lookout, the biggest height elevation along the whole main overland track which is about 300m across 4km.

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Looking back again, one of the thing i ALWAYS like to do!!! We were almost halfway up to marion lookout point, and what you see in the pic above at the far right is the ronny creek starting point. I always noticed that many just kept on going up, yet sometimes the view midway going up are one of the most amazing rather than on the highest point because of the vantage point you are standing at. Different vantage point allows you to see different things.

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The 1st Ta Dah!!!! Crater lake!!! Amazingly deep blue!!!!!

Crater Lake itself, despite its name, is not a crater. It was formed by the action of ice during previous ice ages. In autumn, the steep slopes that surround this beautiful lake are ablaze with the glorious colours of fagus, a type of Tasmania local deciduous tree. The dark colour of the water, like so many lakes and streams throughout western Tasmania, is the result of tanins leached from buttongrass and tea tree vegetation http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=1365.

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Higher up you can see Dove lake on the other side!!!! 2nd Ta Dah!!!

Unfortunately i wasn’t able to capture the whole lake, it’s just so breath taking!!!! One can start the overland track from Dove lake which is another favourite starting point due to the mirroring of cradle mountain on Dove lake!!! Which is pretty much you see on postcards!!! Though it shorten the track a bit, but it’s reasonably much TOUGHER to start from there due the steep climb up to marion lookout point. Alex decided that for a start, we go easy but longer.

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3rd Ta dah!!!! The view of Cradle mountain with dove lake!!!

Trust me, the view was magnificent!!! The small peak on the left hand side is Little horn while the big towering spires on the right is cradle mountain!!!

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Lunch and a break on marion lookout point!!! A must, hahah. There are actually many trails along this area near the cradle mountain headquarters, there’s actually the crater lake circuit, dove lake circuit, and there are many other side tracks that branch out from the main overland track like lake rodway track, horse track many of what you see with your eyes has tracks leading to it!!! Isn’t that great!!! BUT YOU NEED HEAPS of time, haha. Too many things to see, too little time……many of these tracks allows one to have a different view of the cradle mountain or the lakes.

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Continuing our journey…below the cradle mountain!!! Stunning views!!!

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Pic: Alex in a small figure along the endless track compared to the huge cradle mountain!!! Also rain clouds are slowly coming over :(

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This is what i mean, water, mountains, skies!!!  Those small pool of water are call tarns, a small glacier form mountain lake.

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Slippery paths, because of frozen patches of ice sheets!!! Nearly fell on some of it.

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Another water, mountain, skies combination!!!! click for enlarge view


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Cradle mountain cover with clouds :(

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Everything here looks near but are actually FAR with your heavy load!!!

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Approaching kitchen hut!!!! Yeah!!! that’s not a place to zzz in, but it’s actually an emergency hut because the weather on this highland is amazingly unique in a way that you can EXPERIENCE few SEASONS here in a single DAY if you are lucky, haha – rain, summer, snow, ice, low clouds can be expected!!!! And this kitchen hut would provide a shelter from the snow or storms at the elevation of 1300m.

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The kitchen hut is very unique in that it’s small and is double storey with 2 doors, haha. One is allowed to overnight here unless emergency.

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Left our backpacks in the kitchen hut and head up for the summit of cradle mountain, 1545m!!! Damn clouds, sigh!!!

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This kind of view is DEFINITELY WORHT it!!!! click for enlarge view


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The hike up is not surprisingly easy because of the rocky dolerites, to make the matter worse, it’s the slippery of the rocks sometimes that i have to hike up slower. Knowing that I have my left knee problem hence i followed slower, don’t wana put too much pressure on my left knee. Alex as usual, climb like it’s a flat road.

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The higher up, the more clouds :(

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But one can still make up the unique landscape that make up this mountain, the dolerites!!!!! The hike doesn’t end where you think it’s a peak, you have to go up and down to the other peak, hehe. And SUPRISINGLY, there’s icy snow leftover on the other side which is less exposed to the sun.

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Hope you can appreciate the climb, haha. The icy snow makes it harder.

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The view at the saddle between the 2 peaks!!! Mysterious hehe!!!

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The cradle mountain top plateau!!! I’m the last to the summit, haha. Oh well,….Both me and Jono couldn’t see anything, but Alex said at one point he can see kinda make out the figure of barn bluff further down south west. The view on top is supposed to be a 360 degree view across the whole area.

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We didn’t stay up long since the clouds just won’t go.

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Back to kitchen hut to grab our backpacks. On the way up the cradle mountain summit, we saw a group of Singaporeans with a tour guide going down, poor tour guide, it’s getting cold with the clouds, and it’s actually drizzling, but the group he brought was slow (of course, safety 1st ma), but the tour guide seems getting more and more impatient. On the way down, we passed them again, and it was raining, Alex was a bit worried bout them since they were making slow progress, we waited for them at kitchen hut in case they need any help and the weather was coming in. Alex went up to search for them after getting impatient to offer help, all of them has nothing except a small backpack and it’s still a fair way to go back to the starting point. The lesson is: DOn’t underestimate!!! Since the tour guide got impatient and angrier, he didn’t take up any offer by Alex, so we left them to continue our hike in rain.

It’s getting dark fast, and we were only midway to our 1st hut – Watervalley hut, about another 5km away. The track got harder as after the cradle mountain point, it’s pretty much a bushwalker’s track with some slim boardwalks along protected muddy parts (in the past, there weren’t any, but as the park got more and more famous,more and more people walk the track, and created big bog holes, which eventually got bigger and bigger until it requires attention. That’s when all these introduced peak season walking fee is used to maintain the tracks). Not many photos from here onwards, as it’s dark with the clouds on top and rain, it’s just too hard to snap any photos, and we just wanted to push it to the hut for our dinner, hehe. Head torch is really an essential here, the track terrain changed all along the way.

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Finally, we got to the WATERVALLEY hut!!!! Wet and bit soggy, yet satisfied!!! Amazing day with our first dinner by Jono, packets of instant rice, haha with Asian sambal sauce to add a spicy taste to it. We all love spicy, haha. The best of all was, we pretty much HAVE THE WHOLE HUT to us except for the unknown asian girl!!! And Jono got the fuel stove working!!!! Instantly the hut heated up and we could dried our soggy socks and boots!!!  Simply amazing 1st day!!!!

6 comments:

  1. I miss the mountain.. hiking there before.. really amazing..

    ReplyDelete