On Saturday morning, 20th November 2021, Kristy and I drove to the Ranger Station in Cradle Mountain NP. After finishing the PCT just a few weeks earlier at beginning November, we continued our hike from here. It was Kristy’s second multiday hike, and this time it was only one night. The first section was fairly easy, as we followed the Dove River along the Cradle Valley Boardwalk to Ronny Creek. It was a lovely sunny Saturday morning, and we enjoyed the relaxed walk.
After Ronny Creek we made a shortcut to Connells Avenue towards the Waldheim Chalet. It’s a replica of Gustav Weindorfer’s hut which he originally built in 1912, but was destroyed in the 1970’s. It was the first hut high up in the mountains, and he was the first publican to supply visitors with food, shelter and stories. (Nowadays you need to bring your own food and stories, and sometimes even shelter as Tasmanian huts get hardly maintained, except on the Overland Track). Shortly before the Waldheim Chalet, there’s a hikers hut, but nowadays also only for day use only.
After we paid the old Waldheim Chalet a visit, we actually started on the Overland Track. For the first section you don’t need a permit. We hiked up all the way to Marions Lookout, which is the steepest section of the whole Overland Track. On the way we passed Crater Falls and then afterwards Crater Lake. At Marions Lookout we met a bunch of desperate Overland Hikers. Some were equipped with the newest shiny gear, just fresh from the hiking gear shop you trust. One of the Professionals even had the glorious idea to lid his kettle and prepare one of his dehydrated meals. Well, great idea man, just 3h after your start and still 6 days to go. Anyway, Marions Lookout provides a great view over Dove Lake towards Hansons Peak. And a few minutes later you see the full panorama of Cradle Mountain and even Barn Bluff behind.
We stopped at Kitchen Hut for lunch, and left our big backpacks there. From here we went to the summit in about 1:30h. The weather was perfect. Just a few clouds in the sky, and still a full 360° view. We saw to the North our approach, and to the south the other big mountains, and as well Barn Bluff very close, with Fury Gorge just to it’s right. The confluence of the Fury River with the Vale River is just before the mouth into Lake Mackintosh. The upper part to reach the summit is quite a bit of boulder hopping, and also for the way down we took about 1:30h.
We grabbed our big backpacks and then continued on the Overland track on the Western Slopes of Cradle Mountain, until we reached the turn off to the Lake Rodway Track behind Bensons Peak. I already knew this track from my hike two months earlier. It took us maybe another hour until we arrived at Scott-Kilvert Hut, as Kristy was already exhausted and her knee wasn’t in the best shape. But we were just right in time before sunset. We were alone at the hut. If there’s no school class, then it’s really a hidden gem. It was a long day, it took us about 10h for the 19km. Maybe we should have started at Ronny Creek, and walk out along the boardwalk. Well in hindsight you’re always smarter.
The next morning we continued hiking along the Lake Rodway track. We passed Flynns Tarn on the Eastern Side of Cradle Mountain, and then took the Cradle Mountain Face Track back to Kitchen Hut. From here we had nice views to Dove Lake and also Lake Wilks, which lays above the former. After the Kitchen Hut we followed the Horse Track back to Ronnys Creek. It’s an easy walk, you just need to cross a few small creeks. The Crater Peak Lookout provides a nice 180° view over Dove Lake, Crate Lake and Cradle Mountain before you descent back to Ronnys Creek. We passed The Scout Hut on the way down, and even overtook a family who must stayed there. They were not very talkactive…appeared like a stressful weekend for them. On the Overland Track boardwalk we finally saw several Wombats. Sure, it took forever for Kristy until she took all her photos of them, but we were also not in a hurry, as the day was quite short.
We took the shuttle bus from Ronny Creek back to the Ranger Station. We didn’t know, if the bus driver would ask us for the National Park entrance ticket, but he didn’t. Because, if you order your annual Tasmanian National Park entrance ticket online, you would basically get two tickets. One for your car and and one for you to carry on. I only got one, because I bought it directly in the tourist information in Hobart, and as I didn’t had a fixed address, there was no chance they would’ve been able to send me an additional one. So anyway, this all went smooth and we safely arrived back at our car in the afternoon. After we got back to the car at the ranger station, we went to the Cradle Mountain lodge to have have a final drink at the lodge in front of the open fire with some other tourists. When we drove there, two dudes parked on the disabled parking space. I couldn’t resist and asked loudly, which kind of disability they would have. I didn’t get a response, except that they closed the car door. Australians don’t like it, when you point out to them, that they don’t do the right thing.
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