We woke up at the crack of dawn to a misty morning. Because of overcrowding, unavailability and some extremely rude receptionists at the campground on the cusp of the national park, we chose to rough it alongside the Iris River on Cradle Mountain Road.
The Vale of Belvoir
This is the last natural grassland of its kind and is recognised as one of the most important places for nature conservation in Australia, but we thought it was a bit strange that cattle were grazing on it. It seems the Vale has a history of cattle grazing, and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy has teamed up with the University of Tasmania to research the effect of grazing on the Vale – with the assumption that grazing has helped to maintain the grassland.
There’s a great lookout on the way in to the National Park that allows you to see the Vale in all its glory. It was here that we learnt that the last sightings of the Tasmanian tiger were made in the forests around Cradle Mountain.
The land that adjoins with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area around Cradle Mountain was purchased by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy back in 2008 and is under conservation supported by the Australian Government.
Dove Lake is a corrie lake, which means that the lake is in an amphitheatre-like valley that was formed by glacial erosion. It shimmers under the shadow of Cradle Mountain and is the starting point for many walks around this beautiful part of the world.
On the north-western shores of the lake is an old timber boatshed that was built in the 1940s by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain.
Lake Rodway Track
As much as we would have loved to climb to the top of Cradle Mountain, we simply didn’t have the time so we compromised and climbed the Lake Rodway track to Hansen Peak. It was a tough incline but it gave us great views of Dove Lake and Lake Hansen while we ate our breakfast to rest and re-energise.
The track levelled out as we approached the intersection of Lake Rodway Track and Face Track. We found an emergency shelter and a few pretty pools before starting another ascent up the north side of the Little Horn (1,355m).
Lake Willis Track
We were just under the Weindorfers Tower (1,459m) when we got to the turn off to Lake Willis Track. Our legs had started to shake so we had an energy bar each to prepare us for the descent to Dove Lake.
The track was really steep and there were chain rails installed in the really tricky bits. The path levelled out along Lake Willis before descending further past a waterfall where Lake Willis feeds into Dove Lake. The foliage changed from harsh, stark and rocky to moist and mossy forest.
Dove Lake Circuit
Once we were on the Dove Lake Circuit, the path turned into a boardwalk and we entered the Ballroom Forest, a section of the track that was surrounded by bright green, moss-covered trees.
We finished our 6km trek in 3 hours 13 minutes and were glad to peel our soggy socks off our wrinkly feet.