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Monday, May 19, 2008

Welcome to Tassie!

After a relaxing few days on the Murray River we had a great time with Dazz’s relatives in the Bendigo area (and far too many late nights!!!) Saturday the 10th of May was the day we really hoped and prayed our car wouldn’t break down… and it didn’t:) We only had one missed turn in Melbourne, but the GPS rescued us nicely and we were lined up for the ferry.

Neither of us could quite believe we were actually, really on our way to Tasmania. The travel sick tablets worked great and the Ocean View Recliner provided a great night sleep for her (but not much ocean view in the dark). He can’t sleep sitting up, and went back downstairs to watch TV. She found him asleep on one of the TV couches in the morning.

And then we were there. A beautiful calm morning in Devonport with the sun popping in and out of clouds to provide some great photos.

We spent the first two nights at Lake Barrington. Tuesday morning was stunning and cloudless so we dropped our van off at a camp spot at Lake Gairdner and went down to Cradle Mountain for the afternoon.

The clouds had come in a bit, but it was still stunning. We walked around Dove Lake and Dazz began his Cradle Mountain photo collection…

The next day was a bit drizzly so we spent the day inside the van and chatting to the other bloke camped there. He had a game license and had shot two ducks the day before, so gave us what was left for our lunch. Camp oven wild duck with home-made tomato sauce sandwiches… sounds posh doesn’t it!

We headed north (this time only 20km) to another free spot, thinking that we would try to get back up to a national park on the coast over the next few days, but the weather changed our plans. Thursday morning Dazz got up and there were no clouds. ‘Let’s go!’ he pronounced, and the lunch maker stumbled out of bed, figuring out what could be done in the car and what had to be done before we left…

We arrived back at Cradle Mountain and there was still not a cloud in the sky. The photographer of the house set up to take the obligatory reflection shots and then we headed for the hills. Marion’s Lookout is about 300 metres above Cradle Valley and was a beautiful lunch spot, overlooking Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. The sky was still clear, so we decided to have a go at the summit of Cradle Mountain itself.

We took off at a fast pace, knowing we would have to keep on our toes to get to the top and back before dark.

As we started up the foot of the mountain she yelled at the photographer not to keep stopping to wait for her, because he might have a better chance of getting to the top to get some good photos. So, he took off. As she got to the rockier bit she noticed the poles marking the track went right, but he had gone straight up the mountain like a goat… She yelled. Oooops. ‘Are you coming back this way?’ ‘No, I’ll just keep going up here and see if it joins up. You go around.’

She wasn’t going around, and losing sight of him. It was steep and there was shale, making it slippery in spots, so she was going to keep following him in case he got into trouble. Up and up he went. Up and up she went. Finally he yelled for her to wait there. He was just about at the top, but the crevices between rocks were getting bigger and it was becoming more dangerous. He left his pack and camera bag in a cave and scaled the last little bit to see if it joined the main track. It didn’t. The view was spectacular, but he didn’t want to try to get back up with the camera bag.

So down we went – surprisingly easily. And then across, this time following the poles, and then up again. And up. And up. And up. The rocks got bigger and so did the crevices. Again, she stopped. Her legs weren’t quite long enough or feet steady enough to get much further. We didn’t seem to be far from the top, so he was going just a bit further, this time with the camera. The ‘top’ wasn’t really the top… it went down and up again… at least there were some cracks to take pictures through…

By this time we had gone a bit past our ‘turn around time’, so decided we really needed to get going. The breeze had got a bit cooler and the distant cloud had come just a little bit closer. A few rocks down and it got a bit more difficult. We took our packs off and dropped them down to the rock below and then lowered ourselves down. As he was lowering himself down he grimaced and yelped out in pain. Cramps. Front and back of his thigh, at the same time.

He rubbed it out a bit and hopped and limped and grimaced and gently lowered himself down over the rocks. A drink and some chips and a good deal of perseverance got him off the mountain. He just needed to ‘walk it out’ on the flat. So we walked and walked and walked. Of course, he couldn’t resist a few more photos either… Pain is always eased by a good photo or two.
We’re not mountain climbers. Looking at the photos from the top gave us vertigo that night! Would we do the summit again to try to get to the actual top? No way! What a stupid, dangerous thing to attempt! Are we glad we did it? You bet:)

We’re hooked on the area though, and are already planning the other day walks we want to do up there… of course, we’ll have to wait for another perfect weather day!

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