Posted by Pall Catt in Hiking, Trails, Travel, Uncategorized on May 6, 2018
Some of our crew recently took a trip to Tasmania in Australia where they rented a campervan to explore the island’s abundant nature and get a taste of some of the trails on offer there. The first stop was Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The most popular walk in the National Park, according to tripadvisor, is the Marion’s Lookout hike, so what better place to start than there. It begins at the Ronny’s Creek carpark, and also happens to mark the start of the Overland Track, one of Australia’s most famous multi-day hiking tracks which runs for 65 kilometres to Lake St Clair and is walked by over nine thousand walkers annually.
We set out in the mid-afternoon on a cold and overcast spring day. The trail starts off with a flat boardwalk along the Ronny Creek and it wasn’t long before we saw our first wombats scampering along the grassy surrounding hillsides and feeding in the marshy valley of the creek below the boardwalk. These cuddly creatures seemed somewhat accustomed to people and allowed us to get very close to them.
Shortly after crossing over the Ronny Creek, the trail splits, and we continued along the overland track to Marion’s Lookout. The boardwalk gives way to a proper hiking trail and you start to get the sense of entering into the wilderness here as the mountainous terrain begins to envelope you. Before long, the trail enters into a lush forested area which is home to the Crater Falls. We stopped to admire the gushing water and then continued on out of the forest to emerge back onto the exposed trail flanked by shrubs that somewhat resembled the Cape fynbos, interspersed with some small trees.
A short steep kicker in the trail took our breath away in carrying us up to Crater Lake, where our breath was then taken further away. The crystal clear waters of the lake, nestled snugly in a bowl below Crater Peak to the right, Wombat Peak to the near left, and Marion’s Lookout on the far end, contrast the ruggedness of the surrounding cliffs with their sense of peace and tranquility. In better weather and with a little more time at our disposal, it would have been hard to turn down a refreshing swim at this idyllic spot.
The climbing is not done yet and after a casual amble skirting around the east of the lake, we arrived at a lookout point on the saddle between Wombat Peak and Marion’s Lookout where we admired the view and took a few photos before tackling the last steep, loose, rocky climb with elevated views over crater lake to Marion’s Lookout. This was approximately 4km from the start, having gained almost 400m in elevation. A raven greeted us as we crested and we lay down our bags and enjoyed some snacks on the rocks overlooking Dove Lake far below, and Mount Campbell across the lake. Energised by our bounce balls, and having seen very little snow in our lives, we decided to head a little further along the Overland Track to a bank of snow that remained perched on the side of one of the higher slopes looking out towards the jagged peaks of Weindorfers Tower and Little Horn, blanketed in clouds for the most part which would occasionally part for brief windows of opportunity to catch the dramatic scene.
With the afternoon having progressed, it was time to drop the snowballs and start making our way back to the campervan waiting for us at Ronny’s Creek. We opted for an alternate return route, and on the way down went east around Wombat Peak on the trail leading to Wombat Pool. It’s a steep but well-maintained trail that overlooks Dove Lake to the right. Wombat Pool itself was another beautiful scene of serenity which provided a good opportunity to give our knees a break before tackling the second half of the descent down to Lake Lilla. A junction at the bottom end of the lake, behind which the Weindorfers Tower provide a stirring backdrop offers an opportunity to continue on to the Dove Lake Circuit Trail which circumnavigates the lake, or to head back to the Ronny’s Creek Car Park. We needed to make our way back and go in search of a place to call home for the night and so we opted for the latter. From here an easy and flat 2km stroll to the carpark with a few more Wombat sightings which kept us entertained.
The full round trip was almost 10km, starting at the lowest point at 870m above sea level and peaking at 1250m above sea level. It took us a very leisurely 3 hours to complete with no shortage of chatting, photo stops and snack breaks, and makes for a very pleasant afternoon out. You get the feeling the weather can be very temperamental up there (as with most of Tasmania, in our experience) so make sure you’re appropriately equipped.
From here we were heading south with a few more hikes planned. Stay tuned to read about them.