Planning the Day
We hit the lodge breakfast (which gets high marks!) and planned our course of action for the day. The lodge offered a guided walk to Crater Lake at 1 PM but we thought that would waste a little bit of time waiting until then to do a 3 hr hike. We also had to get across the island for our next stop so we opted, after some research at the front desk, to head out on our own. The front desk offered a map and said the trails were well marked (they were). They also indicated weather tends to be better earlier in the day so that settled it for us. We were ready for our walk!
Day 2 – The Hike
After driving into the park and getting the car permit (around $22AU), we made it to the start of the trail. The trail begins with like a 20-min walk over a boardwalk set up above the grassland. The grassland was not quite just as grassland as there was plenty of water on the ground but you could not see it due to the bushy grasses. I supposed that is why they thought it would be good to install the boardwalk. The bushy grasses, due to my inability to properly describe vegatation or determine what they really are, were baptized the “Tinas” by us as they resemble Tina Turner’s hair. Later on, on our way back we determined that when the paths were covered in water and deep in mud, stepping on the Tinas at the edge of the path was the only way to make it across the pools of water and mud. Tinas became our friends!
The path then turned to a gradual climb with rock steps and wooden steps which alternated in different sections of the trail. Eventually we hit the waterfall along the path, nested deep into a very wooded and green area where you could almost not see the sky. I felt like I was in a tropical forest without being in the tropics. The sounds of water and nothing else and the smell in the air clearly “screamed” that we were not anywhere near human habitats.
Soon afterwards we saw the edge of Crater Lake. The lake did not have a blue color as the sky was somewhat overcast but the lake and the hills that surrounded it seemed majestic. We were in for a nice surprise further along…
… As We Reached Marion’s Lookout
Though we had registered at the trailhead as only planning to go to Crater Lake, we had planned to go to the lookout above the lake. Upon seeing the lake, we knew that was the right plan! We embarked on the trail that would take us to that lookout –Marion’s Lookout. Of course, that meant we were climbing even higher, almost to the peak of one of the hills/mountains (which is it??) around the lake. Eventually, the route became so steep that a chain handrail was required to be able to climb the steps to the lookout. At the lookout, the effort was rewarded many times over by the view of Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake and neighboring Dove Lake. It was very cold at the lookout but that did not matter. We got to soak in the view and snap a few pix, of course, before descending back to the trail.
We decided to return to the trailhead via Dove Lake, not Crater Lake, so we could enjoy another part of the park. It was pretty easy to alter our route as the trails were very well signed (though the front desk said to not trust the time estimates on the signs; this must be part of Tasmanian psyche as the Hobart tourism brochure carried ads telling visitors “It’ll take longer than you think” and there were similarly-themed billboards along the road!).
Do Not Feed the Animals – They Feed Themselves Quite Alright, Thank You Very Much!
Once we reached the trailhead and the parking area, we went to sign out at the hike registration book (I am glad they ask for this; if someonen gets lost, I suppose someone from the park would know if they see a hike registered in but not registered out). At the little shelter where the registration book was, we noticed a few pieces of animal excrement and had a good laugh at how wildlife chose to come into the small shelter to take a dump. Well, we were in for a pleasant surprise when we walked back out and saw a wombat calmly eating grass next to a parking spot just like the one in the picture below (not my pic). It did not care that humans were around it as it went to town on the grass! I suppose it first made a stop at the shelter before proceeding to have lunch…
After the hike, we were starving so headed back to the lodge for lunch before departing the park and the area to go all the way to Freycinet National Park on the east coast of the island (a 4-hr drive) to check out Wineglass Bay (see map in my prior entry on Tasmania).
The route we took was less scenic and a “faster” route than our way in which was fine with us. We got to drive through small towns (where I appreciated the fact that all towns seem to have public restrooms in their squares!) and see a little bit of different scenery. We bypassed Launceston, one of the main cities on the island, and entered the eastern part of the island as nighttime set in (it begins to get dark here around 430PM and before 6PM, you are in total nighttime). We could not see the beautiful landscape around us, we would see it the next day.
Finding the next lodge (Freycinet Lodge, http://www.freycinetlodge.com.au/) was not a problem as it was right inside the Freycinet National Park. This lodge seemed a step more upscale than our prior one (but it was cheaper pricewise).
And Now Time for Us to Feed Ourselves
We were very tired from the hike and looked forward to a nice dinner so after settling in and cleaning up, we headed for dinner. I had a fantastic pumpkin and rosemary soup and my main dish was a fish called Trevelle. One of the neat discoveries was this powder called “Bushdust”. Nothing to do with a U.S. political family, instead it is a mix of nuts and spices that you sprinkle on bread or soup or whatever to spice it up (spice up flavor-wise, that is).
We also made a fantastic discovery: Milton winery’s Pinot Noir (Tasmanian). It was quite full-bodied with great flavors and a good finish. A perfect ending to a great day!
(Pictures taken with Canon EOS Rebel)