Tasmania: Dove Lake Circuit, Cradle Mountain
The photos of Cradle Mountain, as depicted in travel brochures, elicited in me feelings of coldness, remoteness, and all things wild. I have imagined that one needs to track all day just to see Dove Lake, with the looming Cradle Mountains in the background.
This can’t be further from the truth.
You can practically see everything: the lake and the mountain all from the carpark. And just 10 minutes away onto the track to your right, the famed boat shed.
Still, I must confess that it was a sight to behold.
With its craggy peak rising 1545m above sea level; like one’s own shadow, you can never be too far away from Cradle Mountain, no matter where you are around Dove Lake.
I have read with some trepidation on tripadvisor, the wide spectrum of feedback on the ease or difficulty of traversing the Dove Lake circuit. Some had said it was a just a walk in the park. Others have ranted at how difficult it was. So, what was it? There was only one way to find out. Walk it myself. And my short answer is: it’s not that difficult.
It is partially wheelchair accessible but there are stretches of the tracks that have steps. So most people should not have any trouble walking the track. To put it in perspective, if you can climb 5 flights of steps without turning blue, you’re probably fit enough to do it.
That said, a number of tourists did the ‘quickie’: walk 10 minutes to the right of the carpark to see the boat shed, and, if they still have time, walk 10 minutes left of the carpark to the glacier rock. Well, my wife and I did the ‘honourable’ thing. We walked the whole circuit and lived to tell. We took a leisurely two and half hour to complete it, having plenty of photo opportunities along the way and even stopped for lunch midway. Benches and seats are scattered throughout the track and so if you feel like it, you can simply rest up a bit or just enjoy the the serenity of the surrounding. Yes, while it was really busy with tourists, there was enough space for everybody and so it wasn’t that crowded.
To give you a feel of how far it was to go around the track, just visit Pandan Reservoir along West Coast Road, Singapore – they’re about the same size – 6km.
If you do a clockwise direction along the circuit as we did, about three quarters into the track, you will come across a beautiful moss-covered temperate myrtle-beech forest known as the Ballroom Forest. Beautiful and surreal, you’ll feel as if suddenly transported to a different place.
As Cradle Mountain is designated as a national park, you are required to buy a pass at the Visitor Centre. It cost us A$16.50 per person. But if you are visiting at least another 2 national parks in Tasmania, it might make sense to purchase the Holiday Vehicle Pass for A$60 (valid for 8 weeks for 8 people) as it allows you to access all the national parks in Tasmania, including the shuttle service at Cradle Mountain. (You can of course drive your car right up to the beginning of the Dove Circuit, but if it was crowded, taking the shuttle from the visitor centre will ensure ready access).