Coming in on Lonely Planet’s ranking scale for the world’s top travel destinations at number 32, ahead of Uluru at 33 and Kakadu National Park in 56th spot – is Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain. It is a ‘must – see’ destination when you visit Tassie and the hundreds of thousands of people who visit each year* is testimony to this ranking. No matter what time of year you go to Cradle Mountain, there is beauty to behold and amazing images to capture. In the summer you have wild flowers and sunny days with Dove lake refecting the beauty above. In autumn, you get to witness the amazing change of colour as Tasmania’s only native deciduous tree, the Fagus, turns to red and yellow.
You get snow, mist and dramatic landscapes galore. The prolific moss and lichen looks like it belongs in a coral reef with it’s myriad of colours and textures. What an amazing place to take the Real Life Classroom.
Firstly, you are not permitted to drive your vehicle any further than the information centre between 8am and 4pm. We were a little thrown by this news, but we soon learned that it is for very good reason. They now have a complimentary shuttle service that runs every 10 minutes. The drivers are all very friendly and knowledgable about the area. They present information and answer your questions on the way round the circuit. Free education! Awesome! They are also happy to stop if you want to get a photo – such as a very cute mother wombat and her joey foraging on the side of the road. This is wonderful. We really appreciated the shuttle service and when you want to return to your awesome Apollo R.V. for lunch, you just hop back on a shuttle – come and go as you please. You never have to wait long.
After a morning exploring this magnificent wilderness covered in more types of amazing mosses and plants than I ever knew existed, we headed back to the shuttle stop to go and get lunch. Aiden asked why all the rocks in the carpark were missing the white fluffy lichens and green mossy coverings that we had just seen growing on all the rocks in the national park. Good observation kiddo! This was a wonderful lesson in how the pollutants from cars over the years have been detrimental to the flora’s existence in the carpark. For the sake of this beautiful wilderness, lowering vehicle traffic in the region has definitely given the environment a chance to slowly regenerate and thrive.
That said, we also try our best to make sure that our kids show respect for the surroundings by sticking to the path ways and board walks. That way, preservation of those vast vivid green mossy carpets that grace the landscape will continue to amaze! We thought it had snowed when we arrived, but it is actually a white coral lichen. Everything in nature has a purpose and each organism relies on each other for survival. Observing the alpine environment here in Cradle Mountain was like no landscape we had ever seen before; We even saw crayfish in the puddles by the walking path. The kids thought that was awesome! They even learned about why Dove Lake is so honey coloured; it is stained from Buttongrass tannins that leech into the soil and in turn, the waterways.
We stayed at the amazing Discovery Park at Cradle Mountain. Wildlife galore! Check out one of our many furry neighbours – he is eating some kind of massive cricket in this shot. Those possums are HUGE. A family of them that would come right up to the steps of our Apollo Motorhome. Who needs TV when you have these guys to watch! This Discovery Park has one of the best camp kitchens I have ever seen! It was so welcoming, offering a massive double-sided fireplace for those atmospheric wet afternoons. We decided to go in and get cosy, with a hot coffee and make some art.
Inspired by artist Patricia Kirkaldy’s work that we saw on display in a little coffee shop in Sheffield only a few days earlier, we decided to try her technique of painting with tea and coffee. The kids love art and brought their journals and pencils, but no paint brushes. We decided to make some – primitive style! We were very careful to source materials only found on the pavement in the outdoor BBQ area. It is important that the environment isn’t disturbed. Sebastian is our tool maker and made an unreal brush using grasses, a stick and a piece of lichen. Inventive! He painted a Tassie Tiger. The two little ones painted…ehhh… more… hmmmm…MONA style. Yeah…that’s right. Very contemporary, abstract and edgy! Aiden called his “The Coffee Sneeze”….haa haaaa! So. Much. Fun!!!!
Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you on our next adventure!
Visitors chart www.parks.tas.gov.au