Our Drive to Cradle Mountain

It seems that a very short distance will expose you to completely different environments in Tasmania. Yesterday, we travelled a little over 120 kilometres to get from Devonport to Cradle Mountain and found ourselves in completey worlds

Along the way, we passed through several little towns that have invented some feature, other, that will help them stand out as being visit worthy.

Latrobe, on the Mersey River had a building that you would be unlikely to see anywhere else. It’s the Axeman’s Hall of Fame. Wood cuting is a very competitive sport with the champion being able to cut through a thick wooden log (or tree) in the fastest time using an axe. Tasmania, with its expansive forests, has a long history of this sport, as do some forest towns in other states, but here it has been a strong sport for generations.

The town of Railton prides itself on its topiary. Trees in the main street are carved into twisted spirals and thoughout the town there are topiary figures on a range of different subjects. The one that stood out to me were these four topiary figures at the war memorial. It looked just as if they were wearing their camouflaged uniforms.

The town of Sheffield really has nothing going for it other than around sixty murals that are painted on buildings around the town. They first appeared back in 1985 and the aim was to develop a significant tourist attraction which would be “an outdoor art gallery of heroic proportions, depicting the pioneering history of the district and its people”. They are one of the success stories of any country town trying to attract tourists.

The imposing Mount Roland dominates the landscape to the south of Sheffield. It lies 8 km south of the town and rises to 1234 metres. There are a number of well marked bushwalks which are all suitable for a day of pleasant exercise. 

After leaving the coastal plains around Sheffield, the road becomes steep and windy as ii proceeds through forest and down through the Mersey River Valley It croisses the river at Cethana. Here, the ubiquitous Tasmanian Hydro Authority has one of its many dams and power stattions that suppies the state with electricity.

After crossing the river, the road ascends to an area of high latitude moorland on which Cradle Mountain is located. Near the road junction to the ‘Cradle’ there is some evidence of climate change with dieback in some of the trees . This has bneen happening for some decades and is part of the natural environment. Closer to Cradle Mountain, we could see evidence of the renowned Button Grass which I remember from my first eight-day hike across the Overland Track just after I returned from Vietnam. There were no boardwalks in those days and bushalkers slogged though mud, sometimes up to their knees, between these clumps of grass. I was young and fit in those days.

Although we are staying at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, we have decided not to vist the mountain itself. Jill’s mobility makes that diffficult and you can no longer drive down to Dove Lake at the foot of the mountain. Nowdays you must use one of the National Park’s shuttle buses (and pay for the ride). I visited this place only eighteen months ago so I am haapy to just take in some of the nearby attractions and enjoy the environment again.

Along Pencil Pine Creek there is some pretty scenery and the creek is surrounded by a mossy Myrtle Beech forest There is an easy boardwalk along the creek and it makes for a very pleasant walk. Pencil Pine Falls are very nice example of some of the waterfalls along the way.

Near the entrance to the National Park, is the Devils@Cradle Conservation Park. They are a unique Tasmanian conservation sanctuary concentrating primarily on the Tasmanian Devil. The sanctuary is also home to the closely related Spotted-tail and Eastern quolls. Tasmania’s three largest carnivorous marsupials are all now threatened in one way or another in the wild. Visitors to the sanctuary can view these animals up close as they wanderi around the sanctuary grounds.

2 thoughts on “Our Drive to Cradle Mountain

  1. Thanks Bruce, you have wetted our appetites to visit Tassie again. We love the place.

  2. How good it is that you take the time to visit these out of the way and unheralded little towns, thanks for sharing this relaxed and enjoyable trip with us, loving it!

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