Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Snow and Wombats, Tasmania, Australia

I had read so much about the beautiful Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania, so I was really excited to be staying at the Cradle Mountain Lodge for a long weekend.  The Lodge is about a 2-hour drive from Launceston and handily located at the entrance to the Cradle Mountain National Park.

The weather conditions there are famously unpredictable, and I was a bit worried about the chance of snow at that time of year. I had emailed the lodge in advance to ask if I needed chains, and they responded no.  The lodge is  only at 820m so there isn’t usually a lot of snow, and if it did snow then the roads would be plowed. Famous last words!

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain Lodge when I arrived

I was looking forward to lots of walking and exploring in the National Park during the days, and winding down with red wine, a good book, or a movie on my laptop in the evening however things did not quite go to plan. However some things definitely went right.  Not long after I arrived at the lodge as I was pottering about in my cabin, I glanced out the window and only a few metres from my window spied a family of wombats!  This was really exciting, as it was my first sighting of a wombat in the wild in Australia. Mother and baby were slowly meandering around outside my window, munching on tussock, completely oblivious to me jumping up and down with excitement. It turned out those wombats really liked that little area outside my window, which was just perfect as I really liked watching them. Then, just for variety, a pademelon bounced past a couple of times. I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

A wombat, outside my room.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

A shy little pademelon

I was really keen to get in to the Park and do some walking. The weather had turned and started to snow, so I booked in for the “Park Explorer” offered by the lodge in the 4WD as opposed to driving in my hire car. It was hosted by a guide from the lodge and covered off the most well-known sites at Cradle Mountain.  Unfortunately however the snow picked up a bit, and five minutes into our Park Explorer tour later that afternoon we had to turn around as the roads were closed. The lodge had also cancelled all their other activities, including the walk to Marion’s lookout, because of the snow, which was really disappointing.

I soon realised that the only walks I was going to be able to do were the short walks around the Lodge.  They are all very well maintained and signposted, with boardwalks lined with chicken wire to stop you slipping. However on my third day the snow got heavier, and soon the boardwalk was nowhere to be seen, it was white as far as the eye could see. The snow was falling thick and fast and I wondered about the wisdom of setting off into the snow following only other footsteps that might well disappear, but I forged ahead, and I’m glad I did. The thirty minute walk to the waterfalls was an easy walk through the rainforest and spectacularly beautiful.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

A pademelon I spied on my walk

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

This was the theme for the entire weekend, as the weather got progressively worse.  Once morning I woke to a very thick blanket of snow, and walking from my cabin to the main lodge the snow was nearly knee deep.  I was bundled up warm in plenty of layers – thermals, wool tops, fleece jacket, puffer jacket, two beanies, gloves and woolly socks, morphing into a wombat (or a womble?!) myself. I had to content myself with morning walks through the enchanted forest close to the lodge. As I was walking I startled a number of pademelons, plus saw plenty of evidence of other animals with their footprints in the snow.

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

The weather got worse and the snow got thicker, and on the day I was supposed to leave, the roads were completely closed, even to 4WD cars.  I had an unexpected extra night at the lodge, along with a number of other stranded guests.  Being stranded at an upmarket lodge on the doorstep of a beautiful national park sounds a lot better than it actually is!  There is literally nothing to do, and that included visiting the park! The next day the forecast was slightly better. It was still snowing but it was definitely a bit warmer. It became clear that it was now or never in terms of escape. I decided to leave my car at the lodge, and I hitched a ride with a lovely family from Melbourne who were going to have a go at driving to Launceston.

There was a small convoy of us who were making a bid for freedom. My adopted family also only had a 2WD so it was pretty hairy at times. At one stage we were sliding backwards and sideways and then got completely stuck and weren’t moving at all. We all got out and pushed for a while until the car got going again and then met the car up the hill where it was relatively safe to stop.   But then we were away. The worst had passed and we were on our way to Launceston at last.

So my trip to Cradle Mountain was somewhat mixed. I finally saw some wombats and they definitely didn’t disappoint. However thanks to the biggest snowfall in Tasmania in 30 years (it even snowed on the beach in Hobart) I stayed at the entrance to the National Park but never made it to the park as it was closed.  On the bright side though, now I have an excuse to return!

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

The snow starts….

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