Cradle Mountain: it reigns
It rained. A lot. And it was perfect. The weekend was designed as a laid-back getaway, and that’s what we got at Cradle Mountain Lodge.
The Lodge sits just outside Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, an area of such awesome natural beauty and value it’s World Heritage listed.
Sun shone on the English fields of sheep and cattle on the two-and-a-bit-hours drive from Launceston, but as the altitude climbed, the clouds came over, until we were winding through misty-rainy moor and edging sheer gullies choked with eucalyptus forest.
The clouds never left for the duration of the weekend, even threatening to snow at one point. But the rain showed mercy, breaking long enough for us to not only appreciate the bounty around us, but work up an appetite: there was the half-hour Enchanted Walk, with its duckboards running beside a fast-flowing stream and taking us from open grass paddocks to moss-covered forest; and there was a wee taste of the Dove Lake track, with a side trip to “the boatshed”, down to Lake Lilla. There was even a brief rainbow on the return trek!
Our accommodation, a sprawling estate run by Peppers, was ideal for the stay: next door to our friends, spacious with an airlock to keep the dripping wet out and the warmth in, no television, a gas fire. The staff were uniformly friendly, too.
A short stroll to the lodge — it’s made out of a lot of timber — yielded close encounters with wombats and pademelons. In the no-fuss bistro, there was wood-fired pizza and other pub grub; in the restaurant, more elegant fare, including a walk-in wine cellar.
A buffet breakfast was included, and it offered a pleasing range of hot and cold tucker, and all fresh.
A lower bar, for guests only, had one of the best wood fires to dry out beside.
Our excursions included a joint win at the bistro’s short and sweet trivia night, and a little more romantic, and included in the accommodation price, a tour of the nearby Tassie Devil sanctuary, where the besieged critters are, along with two kinds of very cute quoll, available for viewing.
We dodged rain to see the cute little dudes fed pieces of wallaby, and didn’t they get stuck in. Devil screeches are something to be heard, especially in the dark and rain.
It’s great that there’s hope for the species, at least once the population suffering from lethal tumours has died out.
There was sun on the way home, of course. On the way in, we stopped at Sheffield for honey and fudge — the fudge did not make it home — but on the way out, it was a straight run back to Launceston for lunch at Blue Cafe — noms the sweet corn fritters — before flying out.
What really impressed, other than the landscape and sheer comfort of the resort, was the ease of access. A short flight from Melbourne, a short and very pleasant drive, a wilderness-embedded resort with its own walks, and the whole national park at the doorstep.
A fly, a drive, a walk, a feed, wombats (!), even an afternoon nap. Just lovely, rain or shine.