WILDCARE Cradle Mountain Volunteers

The highlands of Tasmania are unique and Cradle Mountain in particular holds a very special place in the hearts and memories of almost everyone who has been there. My first time to this magical place was the first of our annual family trips to Waldheim in the mid 1960s. A trip to Cradle Mountain always was and still is a highlight of every year.

In 2018 I jumped at the opportunity to spend a week at this wonderful place with Wildcare as a volunteer. I joined in again for the Spring 2019 Wildcare program and again, thoroughly enjoyed the week. As would be expected, we experienced Cradle in all of its moods, from heavy rain followed by clear sunny sky, to zero night time temperatures and warm calm spring days.
Our week started out with a group of four hiking to camp at Lake Rodway for two nights as a base for our work. Our tasks were to clear overgrown vegetation from walking tracks and to install wire mesh on the boardwalks. In the bushwalking shop a week before, I didn’t actually think that I’d be carrying rolls of wire mesh and nail guns in that new backpack.

Wokring on Scott kilvert Boardwalk-Cradle Mountain

The tasks can be tedious and physical but any discomfort is more than offset by the glorious surroundings. The vista of alpine peaks and mountain tarns guarded by pencil pines, the natural perfume of the lemon thyme plant, the distinctive call of the currawong or the ever present trickle of water tumbling down the rocky slopes and the changing sky soothe the senses while out on the track.
During the first night the roar of an early morning downpour on our tents reminded us of the rapid weather changes when out in the high places.

The sunshine of the second day dried our tents out however when more heavy rain was forecast, we altered our plans, packed up camp and took an evening walk back up to the Rangers Hut near Hanson’s Peak.    Rangers Hutm Cradle Mountain

Days four and five were spent in sunshine, clearing and marking along the Dove River Canyon and Pencil Pine tracks. We made the most of the opportunity of the good weather and a few free hours of daylight and had a lovely late afternoon walk up Mt Kate. There are fine views from the summit over Cradle Valley, Barn Bluff and the west coast mountains. This little bonus hike clocked up our distance walked that day to almost 17km so everyone slept well that night.

Any visit to the Cradle Mountain area gives one a great experience in a truly magnificent natural environment and a Wildcare week is a great way to enjoy the place while helping to maintain this beautiful park.
Bill Field.