I arrive at Cradle Mountain late on the previous evening, with grander plans ending being a walk to Kitchen Hut… I’ve managed to book one of the basic Waldheim Cabins which are inside the park, allowing me to get an early start the following morning. The evening is clear, and while taking some night shots from Lake Dove, I capture the faint glow of the Aurora Australis (southern lights). It’s the only time I’ve seen them in Tasmania.
Unfortunately, the next morning is very overcast and misty, as I set off very early by torch-light from the Ronny Creek car park. Shortly after the Overland Track boardwalk ends and I veer right onto the Horse Track, I follow a wombat who leads the way up the Overland Track, seemingly unaware of my presence (or just preferring to stick to the well-made track).
By the time I reach the plateau, there’s a combination of sleet and rain (not exactly sure which, but it’s painful when it hits your face and very cold). I reach Kitchen Hut, where I take shelter and warm up a little, while I consider my options… It’s now getting light, but visibility is very limited and there’s not much chance of a view from Barn Bluff (or Cradle Mountain, which I can’t even see from the hut).
I head back, this time taking the Overland Track.
It remains misty, with limited visibility. I can just see the other side of Lake Dove from Marion’s Lookout, below.
Descending to Crater Lake, I pass the old boat shed.
Crater Falls is more impressive than usual though from the overnight rain. It’s only a 5m drop, but surrounded by moss and lichen as it cascades down next to the path.
Photo stops aside, it’s a quick descent to the car and breakfast at Cradle Mountain lodge! It’s been a short three-hour walk (including half an hour trying to warm up in Kitchen Hut) and I’m back at Ronny Creek by 9am.
[Just over a year later, I’m more successful in my attempt, and reach Barn Bluff on a day that starts almost as overcast, but clears up in time!]
The Waldheim Cabins are the most convenient accommodation, although very basic. You can access the Overland Track directly from the cabins. It’s the only place you can stay inside the Cradle Mountain National Park, but you’ll need to book a long way in advance during peak periods. I’ve stayed a few times at the Cradle Mountain Highlanders cottages which are just outside the park, and are one of the cheaper accommodation options near the park.