We had spent a little time in Launceston when we first arrived in Tassie, finding it to be a pretty city, with some great old buildings. We called in again on our way up to the north-west coast and made a point to go to Cataract Gorge, having missed visiting here the first time round.
Cataract Gorge is just outside of the city and a great place to spend a day. There are a number of walking trails, a suspension bridge, the world’s longest single span chairlift, swimming pool (empty during our visit), eateries, Interpretation Centre and lets not forget to mention beautiful gardens, along with other great views.
Although the kids were keen to go on the chairlift (I wasn’t) we couldn’t really justify the $48 price for a one way trip. Instead we were happy to soak up the same views on foot. We spotted a few peacocks, the kids pretended to swim in the empty pool and we all walked over the bridge. The grounds were immaculate with some of the cleanest barbecues we have ever seen! This would be a great place to bring a picnic, especially when the pool is operating.
If you visit here, go and have a look at the photos of when the gorge has been flooded – amazing!
For the next few nights we based ourselves at the small, friendly town of Chudleigh. We were charged $10 a night to park in the showgrounds and that included power! There were public toilets about 30 metres away which were open 24 hours and very well maintained. There a small number of places to visit in town including Chudleigh Roses, Silk (all about silk manufacture and products) and The Honey Farm. Camping fees are paid at the local shop, which also serves take away food and hot coffee.
Once again we were very pleased to have the powered site as it was a little chilly in Chudleigh!
From Chudleigh our main goals were to visit Cradle Mountain and also the town of Sheffield, known for its murals. Additionally, we had to visit the ‘Big Tassie Devil’ at nearby Mole Creek. It was on one of our drives around this area that we stumbled across a sign for Tulampanga or Alum Cliffs. As it was only a 30 minute walk to the cliff lookout we decided to go and have a squiz. We weren’t really sure what to expect. There were a few interpretive signs along the way and the forest alongside the path was fairly dense. We were totally stunned to reach the lookout and see these huge, stunning cliffs perched above the Mersey River. It would be so easy to drive through this area and not even know the cliffs exist.
We rose early one morning and ventured off to Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. We made our way to the Visitor Centre and climbed into a shuttle bus that runs to Dove Lake. As we had a National Parks Pass there was no charge for the bus. There were a number of stops along the way but we decided to head straight to Dove Lake, which is the closest one to Cradle Mountain itself. It is possible to drive your own car out there but the number of private vehicles that can enter each day are restricted.
The park is very well-managed with plenty of walks/hikes available. All walkers are required to register their names, the time that they leave, what walk they are undertaking and also the time of their return. Paul headed off to the shelter to check the walks available and to sign us in. He selected the Lake Dove Circuit, a walk of 1000m – which seemed quite reasonable to the rest of us.
Off we set. It was quite chilly and our first stop was to check out Glacier Rock. We read how the striations were formed during the last Ice Age, when debris inside a glacier had gouged the quartzite as it passed over it.
Science lesson for the day.
We continued along the walk, stopping at many vantage points to take photos of the mountain. Unfortunately there was some low-lying cloud during our visit and one half of the mountain remained obscured. It was still majestic nonetheless and yet another destination that I can’t believe we have actually been to.
The boardwalk is very well maintained and the views indescribable but the walk started to feel like it was taking a very long time. We had been walking for an hour and we weren’t even half way round the lake yet! Not to worry. We trudged on taking in the views, with only a few “are we there yets?”
I may or may not have had a giggle (ok, really loud snorting kind of laugh) when, after about two and a half hours we eventually completed the walk and signed the book to say we had arrived, only to then notice that the 1000m Paul had read about was in fact the highest altitude reached on the walk!
The circuit is actually 5.7 km long!!
Blog fodder – he makes it so easy!
We waited for the next shuttle bus to take us back to the car (we had decided that one walk was enough for today) and I managed to embarrass the whole family when a great big fat wombat ambled across the road in front of the bus. I love wombats and had resigned myself to the fact that I was probably not going to see one in the wild. I jumped up and down on my seat and there may have been some clapping and squealing.
The kids still refuse to talk about it!
From here we headed towards Sheffield. This town boasts over 60 murals which have been on painted walls in various locations around the town. The murals depict the history and showcase some of the beautiful scenery of the area. They really are remarkable. Each year there is a Mural Fest competition where artists are invited to produce a mural based on a poem (also produced through a competition). These murals are displayed in an outdoor gallery and the most recent poem was based on the theme of ‘food bowl’. The murals themselves were obviously produced by some talented artists but we found that a large number of them were a bit ‘dark’, making statements about the negative impacts of man on the environment etc. Obviously art invites debate and I am an expert in neither, it just felt that after marvelling at some of the murals throughout town we ended up standing in a sad little corner and some of the gloss was rubbed off.
Before getting to Sheffield we had heard about the murals but didn’t know that this lovely town also sits in the foothills of Mount Roland. This mountain reaches a dizzying height of 1233 metres above sea level (nose bleed anyone?) and provides a really stunning backdrop to the town. If you are up to the challenge there are apparently a couple of tracks that you can take to reach the summit.
In a number of shop windows throughout the town there were a few articles about the possible installation of a cable car up to Mt Roland.