North Coast to Cradle Mountian National Park
Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
29Trip End Apr 15, 2013
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We left our apartment in Port Sorell fairly early in the morning. We were kind of disappointed in our accommodation here in Port Sorell. Doreen (and I) had thought that a town with such a name would have hotels or cottages near the shore. We got into town and started looking and found the Shearwater Resort on the main street. Then as we looked for something closer to the shore, we ran into retirement or holiday communities. We finally gave up and went for the Shearwater and got our apartment with view of highway and parking lot.
This morning, we double-checked the refrigerator to make sure nothing was left. We checked the clothes rack to make sure no clothes were left after washing them. It was at our Queechy Cottage that I forgot the special Wicked Cheese that I had bought at the Salamanca Market.
These villas and apartments that Doreen and I have gotten lately are interesting
So today we have a cabin or cottage - tonight we have two bedrooms but we have to move tomorrow and will get a big bed and some bunk beds. They had a promotion so we got a discount and a free membership in the Discovery Club so we can get a discount on one of their other accommodations. I think we got scared because the first place we visited here at the entrance to the national park only had a very expensive accommodation because the cabins were set up for more people. There are some fancier places - the lodges - but we didn't even try them. Oh, back to the beginning of our day.
From Port Sorell we ran into a bit of difficulty trying to make our way out of town. First we tried going west - the direction we were headed - along the coast and ran into cul de sacs
I wanted to find Makers' Workshop, the craft center I had seen advertised and we bumped into it as we walked along the boardwalk in Burnie to find the tourist information center. The info center was inside the largish mental and glass building on the shore. We had a bit of a crisis since our parking meter - way at the other end of the boardwalk - was running out of money and we had just gotten to the craft center. Doreen kindly went and brought the car to the craft center lot while I checked out what was going on. There was a painter, paper maker and jewelry maker there exhibiting their work and doing little demos. Somehow I only managed to talk to the papermaker and the jeweler. I saw the latter make a glass bead and the former showed me paper made out of denim. He showed me a watermark in the paper - a wallaby - and told me that it was made the old-fashioned way by putting a wire on the paper while it was drying. The paper texture was quite smooth on one side and the paper seemed denser and quite strong. I found a few things to buy there including a brie to replace the much lamented lost Wicked cheese.
After Makers' Workshop, we were headed Southwest to Cradle Mountain. Again we had a bit of a problem trying to get out of town. We had gotten an area map from the info center with tourist attractions identified: two gardens, a whiskey distillery, an emu farm and a waterfall. Doreen wasn't keen on any but the Guide Falls gorge. I thought the gorge sounded good - and could pass on the others although, as I told her, I could always go to a garden
But we finally got there and checked out Guide Gorge Falls. It was a nice little walk to the falls next to a stream (the Guide River I guess) with some great big rocks and some interesting erosion patterns. We thought the rocks might be basalt or some igneous rock because of the columnar formation. When we got to the falls, we saw water running over a rock face covered with moss - it was really pretty and had a little rainbow at the bottom. Across from the water fall, the facing rock face had more of the same columnar pattern and the stream bed was partly covered by what looked a lot like cobblestones from the erosion of the rocks in vertical columns.
From here, we continued on the road we merged with - B18 - until we reached the Murchison Highway. We had been going through a landscape of rolling hills with farms. Some fields looked like golf courses with grass neatly manicured by the local sheep. We passed a large field with a vegetable crop. I first thought it was potatoes since we had just passed the Spud Man roadside market but Doreen thought they looked like cabbage or broccoli - I think she was right. Farther on we began to get into tree plantations and wood harvesting
Not long afterward, we made the turn toward the northern entrance of Cradle Mountain National Park. We stopped at Black Bluff Recreation Area overlooking the Vale of Belvoir where we could see Cradle Mountain in the distance past the moorland valley. The vegetation here was more heath-like with tufts of sedge-like clumps of grass. Later I heard someone refer to button grass so I need to look up whether that is what it is. It is buttongrass. We met some people from Darwin and Doreen will get a free cup of coffee if she visits the hardware store where one of them works.
We made it to Cradle Mountain National Park by around 3:30 pm and booked our room. After settling in, we went back to the Park Visitor Center to try to get some information about walks and things to do here. We had decided on two nights and doing some of the short walks and maybe one or more of the middle length walks. There are all kinds of things going on with shuttle buses, passes for this and that, gates closing and it was hard to make it all out. We did get some info before the interpretive center closed and then we went back to the park center and I managed to get a book on local plants
It was still light and relatively early and I was feeling ambitious so I suggested we go for a walk. We did drive over to the interpretive center to save time and did one of the short walks - the Enchanted Walk ... and it really was! The vegetation is quite striking here. It started off with more of those tuffs - of a peculiar somewhat yellowish green. Then there were smaller mounds of a dark green leafy plant. The leaves were shaped something like geranium leaves but much stiffer. I would have sworn that I took photos of the signs with names on them. Farther on, as the boardwalk followed the stream, we came to different plants - a small mounded evergreen, a plant that resembled a palm of some sort but Doreen thought might be another variety of cycad (turns out to be pandani - a form of heath), more different kinds of heath-like plants, lots of lichen-encrusted dead tree branches and a tree with small white flowers that Doreen thought might be a variety of tea tree. Some of the plants were very aromatic with an herbal fragrance. On top of this abundance of plant treats, there was the visual treat of the stream running through a very dark, mossy and rocky bed with dead branches and its reflecting water. AND on top of that, Doreen spotted a small wallaby or pademelon (a small wallaby-like marsupial) right next to the trail. Since it was dark and the animal kept moving when I took its photo, almost all the photos didn't come out, but it was still thrilling.
We got back and had our camp dinner of canned tuna mixed with beans - mine had red capsicum and three beans and Doreen had a different variety