Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain National Park

Resuming our tour of Tasmania’s wild and beautiful places after a break, here’s our walk around Dove Lake, under the ramparts of Cradle Mountain (map).

Tasmania is not very big, especially to Queenslanders like us, but Cradle Mountain is as hard to get to as Strahan, and for similar reasons: it’s at the end of several hours’ drive into wild country whether you start from Hobart or Launceston. Launceston is the closer of the two but the trip still takes a couple of hours – down the highway towards Burnie, then through Sheffield, past Mt Roland and up into the northern edge of the highlands. It’s worth the effort.

The entry-point to the park is a big new visitor centre with a carpark to match. Free shuttle buses run from it all day to Dove Lake, the end of their run, with stops at accommodation, walking tracks and the ranger centre.

We fitted the Dove Lake walk and two shorter walks (Enchanted and Waldheim) into the two long half-days we had there. Another day would have been nice, but I’ve already said that about several other places we saw, so I guess we really needed a longer holiday.

Dove Lake

The Dove Lake circuit is deservedly popular, being long enough to count as a ‘real’ walk but short enough to do in a day and without specialised gear. It begins at the southern end of the lake near Dove River, the lake’s outlet.  We turned left when we got to that point, so our walk follows the eastern shore towards the mountain before returning along the western shore, passing the famous boat shed near the end of the circuit. It’s an easy walk on good gravel paths and boardwalks but long enough to take three hours or more.

We visited in early December and enjoyed a wonderful display of flowering shrubs but not much wildlife; a black currawong joined us when we stopped for lunch, and we saw wombat droppings but that’s about all. The forecast was for a top of 9 degrees (but “feels like 2”) with showers, and that’s what we got – sunshine, light showers, and wind gusts kicking up water-devils on the lake. (Well, they would be dust-devils in dry paddocks, so why not?)

I couldn’t bring myself to reduce image sizes too much but I didn’t want the page to load too slowly, so click on any image and, if you like, scroll through to see them at full size in the lightbox.

Introduction and index to Tasmanian blog posts 2020-21.

People in Australia before the Europeans arrived

In the middle of last year I compiled Where Did We Come From?,  a  sequence of articles and links about the evolution of our own species from the time we diverged from other apes up to the last few tens of thousands of years.

The last few articles in that sequence focused on Australia, and later additions crept ever closer to our own time. In the interests of making all the material more manageable, this post is its Australian content with some further additions. As before, it is arranged chronologically.

Continue reading “People in Australia before the Europeans arrived”

Au revoir, ReefHQ

reef HQ building noticeReef HQ Aquarium is about to close for a year for an extensive rebuilding project.

The whole structure is thirty years old and is looking tired; quite apart from that, its surrounding have changed: a building which was a great use of the site when it was shared by the Magnetic Island ferry terminal and the Omnimax theatre is now awkward, almost dysfunctional. The big reef and predator tanks will stay where they are, for obvious reasons, but everything else will move. It will take at least a year, and it starts in February.

Continue reading “Au revoir, ReefHQ”

Mother love underground

We often think of mother love as being a particularly human, or at least mammalian, attribute but it reaches all the the way down the evolutionary tree to the insect world, and to species we usually think of as dangerous, scary or just plain nasty. Perhaps we are usually wrong?

These reflections were prompted by my discovery on January 4 of a centipede mother-to-be curled protectively around her eggs  in a cavity under a log. She is not very big, as centipedes go – perhaps 40 mm long.

centipede with eggs
Discovered on January 4

Continue reading “Mother love underground”

Colly Campbell – The Capricorn Sky

book coverThe Capricorn Sky

Colly Campbell (author page)

Stringybark, 2020

There’s a lot to like in The Capricorn Sky but unfortunately there’s more than a little to dislike, too. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

It’s Campbell’s first novel (nothing wrong with that) and it’s self-published. The book’s unpolished design (fonts, text spacing, margins, etc) sends up the first warning signals and suggests immediately that it has missed out on the benefit of experienced editorial eyes and hands. Furthermore, Campbell has chosen to write in an invented future English in which hyphenated words are replaced by camelCase, “qu” by “qw” (qwite, qwiet, etc), and there are other neologisms and re-spellings. He probably intended that it would help place the action where it’s set, at the end of this century. It’s a tactic which can work well in the hands of an experienced writer (Burgess’s Clockwork Orange and Hoban’s Riddley Walker come to mind) but this reader, for one, found it merely distracting.

And that’s a pity, because Campbell has set a good story in a worryingly plausible future North Queensland.

Continue reading “Colly Campbell – The Capricorn Sky”