I still intend to post photos from Mt Field NP and the Tasman Peninsula to complete my collection of Tasmanian excursions. When I do, I will back-date them to keep them with the Cradle Mountain post.
I haven’t been altogether idle in the three weeks since my last post here. In fact, I have spent more time than usual working on my site – but the Words & Images blog and the Music section rather than Green Path.
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.
We stopped in Zeehan on our way from Cradle Mountain to Strahan, and passed through Queenstown on our way from Strahan back to Hobart.
The two towns have similar histories, having prospered – boomed, in fact – because of mining in the late nineteenth century but dwindled during the twentieth. In this they resemble Charters Towers and Ravenswood in the Townsville hinterland, and all four towns have public buildings out of all proportion to their current population.
A North-South line through Hobart and Launceston divides Tasmania fairly accurately into the settled East and the wild West. The West is wetter and far more mountainous, and much of it is wilderness (and long may it remain so!). Macquarie Harbour opens onto the middle of the West coast and was one of the most isolated outposts of the early colony. Its main township, Strahan, did well enough from fishing and timber-getting to survive but is still a tiny spot of humanity in a world of mountains, water and trees.
Strahan is now a pretty little town strung along the northern coast of Macquarie Harbour. Fishing and timber are still important but tourism, exemplified by day-long harbour tours on big catamarans, has become a major activity.
Cygnet is a pretty little town south-west of Hobart (map). It’s on a sheltered bay so it’s a yachting town as well as a farming town. It welcomes tourists, of course, and I know it as the home of a very good post-Christmas folk festival (still going ahead this summer although in a much reduced format).