The weather forecast didn’t look great.
While the sun was shining brightly in Launceston as we walked to the car, I knew that things would be different 200km to the west. The area around Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain is renowned for having highly changeable weather, and even though it was the middle of summer, and I’d had great weather on my last visit, expectations weren’t high.
Those expectations were right.
The looming clouds on the horizon grew darker as we drove, occasional patches of blue sky quickly replaced by a low grey haze. Not far from our destination the occasional spits of rain on the windscreen became heavier, first a light drizzle and then, quickly, a downpour.
Perfect hiking weather, right?
Cowering in the car while we ate a makeshift breakfast, the idea of walking for a couple of hours was rapidly becoming less appealing. Eventually, though, the deluge relented, leaving only a freezing wind behind. Clouds scudded across the sky, more rain on the way, but for now it was dry. It was time to move.
The one benefit of the cold weather was that other, more sensible people were doing other, more sensible things, leaving the track relatively empty. The walk around Dove Lake is probably the most popular in the Cradle Mountain area – it’s only two hours at most, easily accessible and relatively sheltered. On a day like this one, I had absolutely no desire to be up above the tree line.
Even this crow looked cold, standing forlornly on a bare tree branch waiting for the weather to improve.
It was slightly warmer and dryer at ground level, although not by much.
The rain had just come back with a vengeance a few minutes before taking this photo. We huddled under the inadequate shelter of a large tree until the worst of it had passed, alternately taking photos and having large drops of water splash on our heads.
The weather improved slightly as we passed the half way point – and just in time. The section of track below Cradle Mountain is much more open and exposed than the rest of it, and we would have been drenched in seconds if the rain had kept up. We still couldn’t see the top of the mountain, but at least there was no need for flippers and snorkels quite yet.
Getting back under the trees, weak sunlight filtered through the branches as we walked. Birds chirped up in the canopy, and it got warm enough to even take my jacket off. Sadly the idyllic scene didn’t last.
The rain clouds soon rolled back in, and within minutes it felt like winter once more.
We raced through the drizzle for the last part of the walk, the weather finally deciding to stay consistent for more than two minutes at once. This old hut made for some dramatic photos, but the water dripping off my nose onto the camera did spoil the ambience slightly.
There were plenty of other trails leading up from the carpark that, on a nicer day, we would almost certainly have taken. On this day, however, the only path we were taking was the one back to the car – there’s only so much cold and wet I can take before the fun stops.
Back in Launceston, of course, the sun was still shining.
Now there’s a surprise.
Thanks to Hostelbookers we stayed at Arthouse Hostel near downtown Launceston. The clue was in the name, the sprawling old building dating back to the nineteenth century and full of quirky touches. Our double room was surprisingly large, with great views of a glorious sunset both nights, and the upstairs balcony was the perfect place to laze around on the sofas and read a book while soaking up a few rays.
Because, did I happen to mention, it was sunny in Launceston?