Mountain National Park
Mountain is one of the true beauty spots of Tasmania and a must for
anyone touring the northern part of the island. The tranquility and
beauty of the area gives you a real sense of wilderness.
is part of the larger Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair National
Park, which is itself within the amazing Tasmania
Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is home to the start of the
magnificent 6-day Overland Track (along with several short walks),
has vegeatation ranging from grasslands to rainforest, interesting
glacial geology with truly beautiful vistas and is a haven for wildlife.
However, if your reason for visiting is purely wildlife viewing/photography
then there are better locations in Tasmania.
lies at a lattitude of 41 degrees south and Dove Lake is 950 metres
above sea level. The weather is typically Alpine with strong seasonality.
Winter snow is common and summer sleet is not unheard of. Winter temperatures
average (min to max degrees C) are 0 to 5, summer avearages are 5
to 16. Rainfall is twice as high in the winter months and there is
a better than average chance that it will rain on any given day. For
the full list of averages visit the Bureau
Of Meterology website.
time to go is definitely winter, more clear days, frosty mornings,
log fires at night.
to stay. There is a reasonable range of accommodation in
the area, just google 'accommodation cradle mountain'. The Cradle
Mountain Lodge is right on the edge of the park and is very classy,
with prices to match. However, even if you don't stay there it's certainly
worth visiting for evening food. I've tried several places in the
valley and they have all been fine. There are no camping sites inside
the park but Discovery Holiday Parks have camping, as well as cabins and caravan sites, 5 kms
from the park entrance.
Your longest lenses for the wildlife, but also something shorter for
close enconters with wombats and macropods. For the vast majority
of images I use my 100-400 lens, with the 28-200 being used mainly
for landscape stuff. However, opportunities to get close to some of
the wildlife do occur and so having a wider lens would be handy.
Tripod and monopod
Plenty of memory
capacity or film.
to stay. I think you will pretty much exhaust opportunities
in about 4 days (unless you are travelling further than just the area
around Cradle Mountain) but a return visit at another time of year
would certainly be worthwhile.
to take. Good wet weather gear, boots, gaiters (yes, there
are leeches out there)
are plentiful throughout the park. Walk on any of the boardwalks
and you are likely to spot the tell tale sign of the cube-shaped dung.
A visit to any of these places at dusk or dawn is probably going to
lead to wombat sightings (they are nocturnal and crepuscular), but you
will need to visit the meadows below Waldheim Cabins for 'guaranteed'
Tasmania has three macropod species, the Forester (or Eastern
Grey), Bennett's (or red-necked) wallaby, and the Tasmanian (or rufous
bellied) pademelon. The latter two species are common around Cradle
Mountain and should be pretty easy to see. Again, evening and night-time
are the best times, but on cooler days they can often be seen around
the meadows near Waldheim cabins and around the Lodge.
This is s great place to see the Tasmanian form of the short-beaked
echidna, whose fur is so long that it almost covers the spines. The
more wooded areas are best, such as one of the paths leading from the
lodge, or on the wlak from Waldheim to Dove Lake. Just keep listening
for the rustling of leaves and then stand still, and before you know
it the little chap will be waddling over to you, unaware of your presence.
There are plenty of places around the area to see platypuses,
just be sure to be looking at first or last light. The short boardwalk
around the stream next to Cradle Mountain Lodge is good, as is Dove
Lake itself. At the lodge you should be able to get quite close, but
it is likely to be pretty dark. At the lake look out for the distinctive
circular ripples. However, don't expect to get close here as these animals
are extremely sensitive to vibrations and will hear your approach from
a long way off. If you walk to the edge of the rock outcrop on the eastern
side of the lake you get good views right across the lake and I have
seen several platypuses down below on the eastern shore.
and other carnivores. Cradle Mountain National Park has now
reported cases of devil
facial tumour disease and so the future of the wild population
here is uncertain. However, it is still possible to see devils anywhere
in the park, but it is far from guaranteed. Try spotlighting along
the link road to the park or along the last couple of kms before the
lake. For guaranteed sightings you will need to visit devils@cradle,
just before the Lodge, or venture further out to Trowuna at Mole Creek.
The same applies
to quolls. Both the large Spot-tailed and the Eastern are present
but seeing one in the wild is extremely unlikely on a short trip.
copyright Gerry Pearce
The area in and around Cradle Mountain has approximately 78
species of birds, half of which are passerines. Look out for the endemic
Green Rosella, the beautiful Scarlet Robin and the Swamp Harrier. Click
here for a full list of the birds
of Cradle Mountain.