We drove from Launceston to Cradle Mountain, stopping for a short while to see the wonderful murals in the town of Sheffield. We arrived at the Cradle Mountain Hotel by lunchtime and then headed straight out to the Cradle Mountain National Park for a planned walk around Dove Lake.
At the park headquarters, we had to take a bus out to the end of the road where many of the trails started. We planned to do the circular 6km trek around Dove Lake which would take about 2-3 hours. The weather was very changeable and during the course of our walk, we experienced sunshine, rain, sleet, and even snow!!
The aptly named Glacier Rock bears testimony to the action of glaciers in this region during the past Ice Age. Look carefully at the surface of Glacier Rock and you will see striations that run parallel to the length of Dove Lake. These were caused by rocky debris within the glacier that moved down from the slopes of Cradle Mountain gouging out the basin that would later contain the waters of Lake Dove. As the glacier passed over the hard quartzite of Glacier Rock, the debris left behind the scratches.
However, the walk was spectacular, with well laid out on boardwalks around the perimeter of Dove Lake and provided some great views of the towering spires of Cradle Mountain. There were always views of the lake and also some great waterfalls on the way around.
The vegetation was lush and at one point towards the southern end of Lake Dove, we entered a magnificent cool temperate forest known as the Ballroom Forest. Ancient myrtle-beech trees festooned in moss tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral.
The often-photographed boatshed that stands on the northwestern shores of Lake Dove was built in 1940 by the first Ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell. The shed was built largely of King Billy pine. Although some restoration work was completed in 1983, the shed remains substantially unaltered from its original form
Although the boatshed is now vacant, boating was popular on the lake up until the 1960s. Indeed, during the 1920s Gustav Weindorfer used a very basic and somewhat perilous raft comprised of two pine logs connected by a pailing deck. He later used a more substantial punt to ferry passengers around the lake. In 1938, the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board purchased three Huon pine boats, which remained in service until the 1960s. It was for these that the Lake Dove and the similar but smaller boatshed at Crater Lake were built.
We then stayed one night at the Cradle Mountain Hotel where we had a wonderful dinner. The next morning we took a brief walk around the hotel gardens before heading west to Strahan.
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