North Coast to Cradle Mountian National Park

Trip Start Feb 26, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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What I did
Guide Gorge Falls
Burnie Craftworks
Enchanted Walk - Cradle Mountain National Park

Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Thursday, March 7, 2013

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.  We are getting used to having our own rooms, but usually one of us has a better room - the parent room - and the other, the kids room, usually the one with the bunk beds, but the rooms are usually OK.  We have been getting kitchenettes with refrigerators and usually something to cook or heat food up with.  We haven't used that facility but have made use of the refrigerators.  This morning I put ice cubes in a plastic bag to put in our cool bag but the water leaked out somehow and made things wet in there.

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.  Then Doreen decided to retrace our route into town and we managed to escape.  Once on the highway, we made our way to Devonport, got gas, some coffee and breakfast of sorts - carrot cake and apple crumb cake.  This may not have been Devonport - not sure anymore.

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.  We headed for Old Surrey Road, the route that had all the attractions with the gorge and waterfall last.  Somehow it wasn't possible to get on that road and we ended up back at the craft center and were able to take an alternative route onto the Mooreville Road that merged with Surrey just before the turnoff to the gorge (and emu farm).  The alternative roads put us on edge since it seemed as if it took a very long time to get there that way (on the map, it looked quite short) and there really weren't landmarks or ways to recognize that we were on the right path. 

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.  A train went by with several open wagons - maybe timber - maybe not.   Doreen said some of the planted trees were blue gum - the little trees had largish leaves of a bluish color.  There were also bigger trees with greener leaves - I am not sure whether these were mature blue gum or some other trees.  We saw some clear cut fields and stacks of tree parts that were left over after the clear-cutting and dumped so that a new batch of trees could be planted in the cut field.  We stopped at a little info center that had some information on the local timber industry.

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.  We also have a guide on some of the waIks....I forgot who bought that....I think Doreen said I did.  Yes, I remember now - I did.  The second center closed on us at 5 pm and we went back to our cabin or cottage and each had a beer.

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.  At some point I sorted through all the acquired tourist pamphlets to separate out the ones we might use here and in the future from the ones I want to save or discard.  Then to the nightly chore of uploading photos and blogging....without the use of any wi-fi or internet.  There is internet here - probably not free (as elsewhere) but no wifi.  So I guess it will be a few more days before I get to send any emails.  I could have gotten wi-fi at the crafts center but wasn't organized enough to take advantage of it.  Now that I have used the netbook without plugging it in and am down to 51% of the battery life, I will stop and plug it in for the night.  It is 9:45 pm.

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