Tasmania: Cradle Mountain-Lake St.Clair

Tasman Peninsula

Tasman Peninsula

During our multi-day road trip around Tasmania, we managed to cover most of the hot spots on the island (weather permitting).  Leaving Strahan with just a few aches in our backs from car camping, we gassed up Deedee for a drive to one of the most visited sites on the island, Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair.

Oh yes, the wind was fierce!

Oh yes, the wind was fierce!

Our photo opportunity at Cradle Mountain – Though we arrived to the World Heritage Area of Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair in the midst of a snow storm, I could still make out a snowy peak jutting out of the angry storm clouds.  The park is a mecca of peaks, gorges, lakes, open valley’s, and wildlife, but we couldn’t see much through the snow blasting across our windshield.  Determined to get one blog worthy picture of Cradle Mountain, we sat in the car, eating cheese and crackers until there was a break in the clouds.  Gwenda and I jumped out of the car and snapped a few pictures just in time for a picture, but our enjoyment didn’t last long before black clouds once again covered the glorious snow covered peaks. On we drove.

A short drive later, we found the Lake St. Clair lodge which is the beginning of the Overland Track – a hiker’s ultra-hike in the heart of Tasy.  It’s a six day journey, so no – we didn’t take part in the Overland Track this time. Instead, we found a roaring fire, a picture window overlooking Lake St. Clair, and comfy, plush chairs that we took over for the remainder of the afternoon.

A welcome break in the Tasy weather

A welcome break in the Tasy weather

Managing LIfe on the Road – By the arrival of the seventh evening of sleeping in the back of Deedee, we had developed a system of borrowing blankets and comforters from various hostels and hotels, using them for the night and then returning them early the next morning. Many were only too happy to help and we had several nights of semi-warmth, cuddled up with cozy quilts or duvets. Bless those that help the lowly backpacker.

Our system worked quite well until we arrived at New Norfolk. What a crazy place! We pulled into New Norfolk with high hopes for our last stop before Hobart. Gwenda parked in the lot outside of a backpackers hostel and soon returned to the car with her arms loaded with blankets, courtesy of the cute pig-tailed lass at the front desk. We arranged our blankets, set our flashlights on our beds with our folded p.j’s, and planned our final evening out on the town.

Just WHAT does one do on a night out in Tasmania?: After a quick dinner of Thai rice that we cooked in the parking lot, we ventured off to a local play. It was called “Women of the Willows” and told the background behind many of the women that were detained in New Norfolk’s insane asylum during the 1800’s. It was entertaining, but had an odd ending, especially with the various ‘ghosts’ wandering through the shadows. By then, we were in the habit of trying to stay awake as long as possible to avoid the long nights of attempting to sleep so we set out to explore what New Norfolk offered on a Friday evening.

Note: Little towns in Tasy don’t have much to offer on weekend evenings, and we settled for a few drinks at the local pub. Lucky us – there was one with a fireplace just down the road from where Deedee was parked.  A few hours of talking with some local Rugby players sped by quickly. They were on their way to a footy disco party down the street and tried to convince us to go dancing for the night. Warding off their match-making attempts and feigning sleepiness, we hiked back to the car, quickly changed into our p.j’s,  and settled under our borrowed blankets for a night’s sleep.

And then it happened: Unfortunately, the sweet girl at reception spoke too soon and make a tiny mistake. To make a long story short, we were approached by security and flashlights at 11:00 pm., demanding the return of the sacred blankets. Obviously, the owner of the hostel didn’t agree with her employee’s kind hearted decision. At that time of night, there was no point in trying to sleep with our feather light sleeping bags so we gave up and decided to drive back to Hobart.

The night didn’t improve. Our petrol tank was on empty so we hurriedly pulled into the only open gas station in New Norfolk before getting on the highway. Just as we hopped out of the car, the station’s lights shut off and the attendant ran outside exclaiming that he had just closed for the evening. We tried to feign ignorance and apologize for being two minutes late, hoping that we could get a sympathy vote. He didn’t fall for it. Instead he wished us good luck in hopes that we wouldn’t run out of petrol on the dark, deserted highways between there and Hobart. To make matters worse, when we finally arrived back at the Pickled Frog after 40 kilometers of white knuckled, staring at the fuel indicator, praying for a miracle exasperation, reception was closed and we were left to sleep on the couches in the lobby.

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