We planned to leave Strahan at 9:00 am and drive 2 to 3 hours to Cradle Mountain with time for a walk in the afternoon. We were all ready before 9:00 am and we hit the road well before schedule. We passed by Zeehan but paused at Rosebery for coffee. We had expected there might be more there but it was a quiet Saturday morning in the mining town and the bakery where we had coffee was devoid of bread rolls. Fortunately the IGA nearby had those and the other ingredients that we needed for ham and tomato rolls for lunch and sausage and salad for dinner.
Jim and Warwick checked the local but it appeared to have no bottle shop. They had missed the early closing at Cellarbrations in Strahan and were concerned that Cradle Mountain might not be able to accommodate our needs for evening refreshment. We drove on and stopped at Tullah, which seemed smaller than Rosebery but had provision for takeaway bottles.
Not long after we had left the Murchison Highway for Cradle Mountain Road we were brought to a halt behind a line of traffic at about 11:30 am. Russell and Warwick walked up the road and returned with news of a motorcycle accident in which a rider of about our age had come unstuck when a peg on his bike hit the road as he cornered, He had his leg smashed by the roadside barrier but was conscious and awaiting evacuation by helicopter. We were initially told that might take 30 minutes but it was more than 90 minutes before the road was opened and we were able to continue to Cradle Mountain.
We were able to check in when we arrived and were lucky to have landed 3 self contained cabins in a cul de sac in the Discovery Holiday Park. We ate our lunch in one of the cabins and then headed for the park visitors centre to arrange entry. Majella had tangled with them by email previously. Per person entry was $16.50 for a day pass but we could have a vehicle pass that was good for a year for $60. The problem was that was limited to 8 occupants and we were 10. We finished with the vehicle pass and 2 extras. The park was full today so we were not able to drive up to the lake but needed to take the shuttle.
Five of us (Warwick, Russell, Norma, Majella, and I) were up for the 2 hours (or so) walk around the Dove Lake circuit below Cradle Mountain. The others were not keen on walking so far but by the time they took the 2 twenty minute walks at Dove Lake to the boat shed and Glacier Rock and the Enchanted Forest walk they probably walked just as far anyway. The shuttle took us to the car park at Dove Lake where we parted ways with an arrangement to meet at the visitors centre when we were done.
We had left Strahan under a pall of smoke from the fires that have destroyed large areas of Tasmanian forest over the past couple of months. The smoke had followed us through Zeehan, Rosebery, and Tullah and surrounded us while we waited for the accident to clear. Amazingly, perhaps miraculously according to some, it had disappeared by the time we entered the national park and, despite the forecast for a 60% chance of rain, we were treated to blue skies with scattered cloud. The conditions were near perfect for walking and photography.
Our walk around Dove Lake took us about an hour and 35 minutes, which was a bit less than the estimated 2 hours. It would have been easy to take longer to enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way but Majella thought we could have managed it more quickly if we put our minds to it. A large proportion of the track was on boardwalk and some of that was on a rubbery compound grid that Majella thought made walking particularly easy because of the give in the surface. Other parts were firm gravel path but the killer sections were steep steps going up and steps with loose gravel going down. None of it was especially difficult but care was needed to avoid slipping on loose gravel. The scenery throughout was impressive with a variety of vegetation and views of the mountain from different angles.
The shuttle we took back was full enough that it was not able to accommodate the rest of our group when they tried to board at one of the stops along the way. They caught the next shuttle and once we were all back we drove back to our lodgings for dinner. Tomorrow is a long day with an early start so nobody lingered long after dinner.