Day 2: RETURN TO CRADLE VALLEY
After Julie did some last minute internetting in the waking hours of the morning, we finally checked out of the Comfort Inn Sunrise Devonport and left at 7:15am for Preston Falls.
By 8am, we were at the signed pullout for the falls. It was a good sign that we could hear the lightly clapping sounds of the plunging waterfall and that hastened our pace as we took the short walk to its overlook.
Unfortunately, the harsh light of the morning put the impressive waterfall half in shadow and it made for terrible photographs. This curbed our enthusiasm put yet another waterfall on the redo list for a future trip to Oz.
The 25m or so waterfall plunged over an open alcove. I’m sure if there was safe access to the bottom, you could easily go behind this waterfall. It was also at this time that I learned that one of the legs of my tripod was malfunctioning as the leg could consistently fall off and be detached from the rest of the tripod.
Great, what else could go wrong, I wondered.
At 8:25am, we returned to the car and proceeded to drive into the charming seaside town of Burnie (getting there at 9:15am). There, we visited the visitor center and also spent some time at the city park, where we visited Oldaker Falls.
The urban park was easy to get to and again we could totally see how locals with kids could take a stroll here and have a picnic or some family outing. The watercourse downstream from the falls was actually contained by retaining walls that ensured the stream channeled towards the ocean eventually without washing away anything else in the park.
Once at the falls, we could see purple flowers blooming along the hills banking the waterfall. The skies were cloudless and the weather was quite warm. But the falls still had decent flow and this made for a pleasurable (albeit a bit contrived with the city park feel) visit.
Next up, we drove towards Guide Falls but not before picking up a meat pie for lunch on the way out. We would eventually get to the car park for the falls at 11:16am but not before being delayed a few times due to road work on the way.
The two-tiered waterfall was in a well-developed park with several overlooks as well as a walking path leading to its base. The harsh sun threatened to make the shadows mess up our photo opportunities. But for the most part, the shadows were tolerable at this time. There was even a partial rainbow faintly floating in the falls’ mist.
The falls itself had pretty decent flow, but we could totally imagine how much more impressive the falls would be in more normal flow. Still, it was pretty nonetheless and we had spent quite a bit of time photographing and just enjoying it.
As we left the falls at 11:50am, I decided we should just head straight to the sleepy town of Waratah to see the Waratah Falls. The original plan was to do a fairly involved detour to see Dip Falls, but I wasn’t very optimistic about going through that much trouble with the probability that the falls was not guaranteed to be flowing satisfactorily.
And to our surprise, the Waratah Falls had very good flow. However, after learning about MacKenzie Falls in Victoria, I reckoned that this waterfall was helped by the water-regulating waterwheel which ultimately fed the falls. The lake further upstream was further evidence of this man-intervened falls. Still, in a bit of ironic twist, it was this intervention that would allow us to see this pretty wishbone-shaped waterfall despite the drought.
There was also a well-situated gazeebo here as well, but we had finished the meat pies much earlier in the afternoon and fancied picnicking in the gazeebo with a lunch. Even still, the blooming wildflowers around the area added much to the charm of the scene.
When we pried ourselves away from Waratah Falls, we drove back into Cradle Valley (once again delayed several times by road work) and eventually checked into the Cradle Mountain Lodge at 1:52pm.
We allowed ourselves to splurge a bit for this day and considering the ups and downs we had on our Tassie experience, I had to admit that Julie made the right call on this one.
After dropping off our heavy luggage, we proceeded to spend the rest of the arvo getting to know Cradle Valley better through some hikes. But we were on a time constraint as Julie made a booking to dine in their facilities at 6pm.
The first hike we did was right across the main road from the lodge. It was a short boardwalk towards both Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls. Both falls were quite small, but of the two, I’d say Pencil Pine Falls was surprisingly satisfying. We tried not to get in the way of some folks filming a local kids show on our way to Knyvet Falls.
Next, we paid the day-use permit fee at the visitor center and then proceeded to drive towards the Ronny Creek Trailhead where we would do a walk towards Crater Falls (on the way to Crater Lake).
The walk was on boardwalk through tussock grasslands very reminiscent of the volcanic plains found in New Zealand’s Central Plateau. Eventually, the track would start to climb into a more forested area where the small Crater Falls could be seen.
Since we were on a time constraint for dinner, we opted not to continue the walk to Crater Lake and extend the walk for another hour. We reckoned we wanted to be at Dove Lake at the end of the main road for a little bit before we would have to return to Cradle Mountain Lodge.
And so after regaining the car at Ronny Creek at 4:55pm, we would arrive at Dove Lake at 5:02pm. With the softening afternoon sun in the cloudless sky lighting up the face of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake considerably calmer than yesterday, the conditions were right for taking a bunch of photos.
Taking full advantage of the pleasant conditions (I had read that Cradle Mountain is usually almost always covered in clouds), we took plenty of photos and once again allowed ourselves to bask in the serene beauty of this World Heritage Area.
We dutifully returned to the Cradle Mountain Lodge in time for dinner but not before seeing a beaver-like wombat roaming the premises without a care to our presence.
At the restaurant, we sat in a very sunny seat that happened to be next to a very calm tiny lake with reflections. When we took our orders and awaited the food, Julie utilized this time to snap a few photos.
The somewhat fine dining establishment served up interesting renditions of seafood and local meats, which were quite good. We passed on the desserts as I wanted to return to Dove Lake to try to photograph Cradle Mountain at sunset.
And after we left the dinner area, we returned to Dove Lake at around 7:30pm. By now, the sun had set in an oblique angle to the Cradle Mountain itself so it left the face half in shadow. Dove Lake was almost completely in shadow by now.
Oh well, at least we tried and know that now; plus we got great photos from a couple of hours earlier.
And so ended a very relaxing day in our second go-around of Cradle Valley. Taking full advantage of the spacious and rustic ambience of the room, Julie and I had no trouble falling asleep and replenishing our energies for tomorrow’s adventure in West Tassie.
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