Falling for the mountain

Some places get under your skin.

They draw you in and then draw you back.

Over time a connection forms. The adventures and memories build and suddenly it means something. With each visit you unlock more secrets; but your eyes are also opened to how much there is still to explore.

There are several places around the world that do this to me…Paris, Edinburgh, Melbourne. They gnaw at my wanderlust to varying degrees and I will always find reasons to return. I will never be ‘done’ with any of them.

Over the last year a new destination has reeled me in.

I’ve spent most of my life living about 90 minutes from Cradle Mountain. Although until about a year ago I would have said it was more like two hours, or two and a half. I wasn’t sure because I visited so rarely.

Last November I went to Cradle for the first time in years. Something clicked that day. As usually happens with these kinds of things, I can’t put my finger on what. Perhaps the combination of appreciating just how spectacular it is, and realising it was on my doorstep.

Since then, my visits to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park have become almost monthly. If my partner and I have a day off together, and the weather is good, Cradle is usually on our minds.

We’ve climbed the summit in summer, photographed the fagus in autumn, played in the snow in winter and enjoyed several helicopter flights over the park. Cradle has become my happy place. I get itchy feet when I haven’t been up for a while and my map of day walks in the area never gets put away. It’s always on my dresser or sitting on the kitchen table, ready to  inspire my next day on the trails.

Despite the regular visits, I haven’t written much about it here. There are some adventures – such as the Overland Track – which I simply haven’t had time to finish writing up, but mostly I haven’t felt ready to share this place just yet. I’m always chasing new experiences at Cradle, so I’ve been hesitant to write something because after the next trip I’ll probably have a new favourite hiking trail or find an ever better view. Every visit makes me realise how much more there is to do and see, so I keep thinking “oh I’ll write about it once I know more”. I never feel like I had the full story.

The problem with that plan is there is just so much to explore that I’ll end up never telling you about any of it.

As a way of introducing this beautiful place I’m sharing my favourite photos taken at Cradle Mountain.

There are the usual iconic and recognisable shots – such as those over Dove Lake and, of course, that boat shed. A snap of Cradle dusted in snow is a must if you visit in winter. But some of my favourite photos have been sights I didn’t know lay at the end of hours of walking. They make a long day on the trails absolutely worth it. Twisted Lakes, I’m talking to you! Oh and there’s wombats. I have a ridiculous number of photographs of wombats (I’ve resisted and shared only two here).

It took a while to cull the thousand or so photos I’ve taken at Cradle Mountain and although I tried, I couldn’t get it under 30. But you’re about to see what all the fuss is about.

Dove Lake, Boat Shed at sunrise, Cradle MountainSunrise at the boat shed

Twisted Lakes, Cradle Mountain

Twisted Lakes

Crater Falls, Cradle Mountain

Crater Falls

Cradle Mountain in snow

Hansons Peak, Cradle Mountain

Hansons Peak

Lake Windermere, Cradle Mountain

Lake Windermere – reached on day two on the Overland Track.

Rainforest Walk, Cradle Mountain

On the Rainforest Walk.

Crater Lake, Cradle Mountain

Crater Lake

Echidna, Cradle Mountain

This echidna found lunch on the side of the track…and wasn’t moving for anyone.

Cradle over Twisted Lakes, Cradle Mountain

Fagus, Cradle Mountain

The turning of the fagus. Read more here.

Cradle Mountain National Park from above

Looking south into the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, from the air.

Overland Track, Cradle Mountain

The first metres of The Overland Track.

Icy track, Cradle Mountain

The Boat Shed, Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain

Summit, Cradle Mountain

Looking down from the summit of Cradle Mountain.

Wildflowers on Dove Lake Circuit Walk, Cradle Mountain

Wombat over Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain

Rainforest Walk at Cradle Mountain

Horse Track from Crater Peak, Cradle Mountain

The Horse Track.

Fagus near Crater Lake, Cradle Mountain

Hansons Lake

Looking over Hansons Lake.

Cradle Mountain from the east

Wallaby, Cradle Mountain

Track, Cradle Mountain

Crater Lake from Crater Peak, Cradle Mountain

Lunch at Crater Peak.

Barn Bluff, Cradle Mountain

Barn Bluff as seen from the summit of Cradle Mountain.

Cradle Mountain face

Snow markers line the way to Cradle Mountain.

Crater Lake from Marions Lookout, Cradle Mountain

Crater Lake.

Wombat, Cradle Mountain

A WOMBAT! (In a future post I’ll share the best place to find them at Cradle.)

Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain in snow

So perhaps I’ve gone overboard with the photos – but seriously, it was hard enough to reduce my “shortlist” (of 80) this far. This place is just too incredible!

 Which is your favourite?

4 comments

  1. Emma

    Oh my goodness, what gorgeous pictures of a gorgeous place. Makes me want to go there on our very next trip (a long way from Washington State, USA!) I would have loved to look at many more than the mere 30 pics. Thanks! I’ll be following your blog with great interest.

  2. I’d love to know how long it took to get to each (well some) of these amazing locations from the nearest parking spot – Like the view to see Hansons Lake, Crater Lake, Crater Falls and Twisted Lakes – which I think is my favourite!
    Apart from the wonderful wombats of course… but I saw you say I’d have to patient to hear the best spot for seeing them!

    • Megan
      Author

      The great thing about walking at Cradle Mountain is you can see a lot without walking far. Crater Falls and Crater Lake are less than an hour from one of the shuttle stops. It took me about two hours to get to Twisted Lakes, but that’s because I went the long way. It would usually be about 90 minutes, or even less. Not a lot of effort for some amazing views!

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