Friday, April 26, 2013

The best place in the world

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

It's a big call, but I make it confidently: of all the places I've travelled - and there are many extraordinary destinations amongst them - this one is my all-time favourite. There is something very special about Cradle Mountain and the Tasmanian wilderness that always has me on Cloud Nine when I visit. There's a special vibe in the crystal clear mountain air.

One of my earliest memories as a very young child is of picnicking with my family at Waldheim, the rustic chalet built by Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian nature-lover who not only settled in this amazing wilderness, but fought to preserve it as a National Park. 

The northern entry to the park, under the twin dolomite peaks of Cradle, marks the beginning of the six-day Overland Track, one of the world's great wilderness tracks (yes, I've walked it - twice). If you don't have time for that, the three-to-four hour hike up to Marion's Lookout and back not only leads you through buttongrass plains, temperate rain forest, past waterfalls and hidden lakes, but - if you haul yourself up the rocks - brings you out onto a spectacular viewpoint. From here you can look down on Dove Lake, nestling at the foot of Cradle, and observe the mountain itself - perhaps considering a climb to the top?

I like to stay at Cradle Mountain Lodge, right on the edge of the park - cosy rooms with fires, balconies to watch the wildlife at dusk, great Tasmanian food and wine, and a yummy spa for that post-hike massage and hot tub. 

Didn't I say that it was the best place in the world?

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