The Boat Shed
It was a beautiful morning, about 25°C (77°F), hardly any breeze, the sun was shining and not a cloud could be seen for miles: Perfect riding weather.
I donned a pair of Kevlar flavoured jeans, threw my leather jacket over a T-Shirt and headed of with The Pillion for the short ride up to Dove Lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain.
One of the most iconic natural attractions on the Tasmanian landscape.
From Devonport, it’s maybe 90km (55 mi) through a series of small towns. Barrington, Sheffeild and with a slight detour along the way, the Village Of Lower Crackpot.
The route takes in some beautiful country, through rolling hills and open farmland, and the roads aren’t too challenging. So it’s easy to motor along at the speed limit and not get into too much trouble.
We Went That-A-Way
We didn’t go that way…
Instead, we headed west along the north coast to Burnie, where we chucked a left and headed south out along the Hellyer Gorge Road.
Now that is a challenging piece of black top.
With steep rock walls on one side and long drop offs on the other, you really need to take care riding along that stretch of road. Especially when you consider that many of the corners remain wet all day because they are always in shade from the canopy of the surrounding forest.
Most corners have a sprinkling of leaf litter right in your cornering line too, which you need to be wary of… Oh, and road kill…. lots of road kill.
Did I mention that by the time we got to the Hellyer Gorge State Reserve the temperature had dropped to 4°C (39°F) and it was raining cats and dogs?
Now lets stop for a sec and work that out…
100km/h at 4°C the wind chill would be…hmm carry the one, times by… about -4.8°C or 23.3°F.
…OK so I cheated and used this site.
So, there I was with a pair of Kevlar lined jeans, T-shirt, no liner in the jacket and summer gloves. To top it off, I was a tad damp.
Fortunately, we’d packed our wet weather gear. The only problem I had, was that I couldn’t get my fingers to work.
So there I was cuddling Bluey, caressing her beautiful lines and whispering sweet noth…
Who am I kidding. I was freezing with a capital “F” and I was trying to thaw my hands out on her engine!
Dove River Conservation Area
After we put on the wet weather gear, we continued on our way, turning on to the Murchison Highway and later the Belvoir Road where we battled strong cross winds before reaching the entrance gate to the Dove River Conservation Area 26km (16 mi) later.
We arrived at the gate at around 11:00, and from there we followed the roadway for the short trip up to the visitors centre.
After dismounting and stowing our helmets and gloves in the panniers, which incidentally we did in record time, we sprinted to the visitors centre to get out of the wind and cold. There we were welcomed into the caressing warmth of the centrally heated visitors centre.
The hot meal and coffee went down pretty well too.
We must have spent 45 minutes in the visitors centre before we ventured outside again. There was no sprinting this time. Instead we sauntered along a covered walkway down to the waiting shuttle bus which took us down to Dove Lake a few kilometres away.
Were we feeling the cold?
Just a bit.
Remember, we live in the subtropics of South East Queensland where if it does get down to those sorts of temperatures it doesn’t last long.
Cradle Mountain lies at the northern end of the Lake St Clair National Park, and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is also the start of the Overland Track, one of Australia’s finest alpine walks.
The overland track is a 65 km (40 mi), six-day trek that passes through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and takes in some (I’m told) spectacular natural scenery.
However, if you are lazy like me, you’ll be happy to know there is a shorter walk of about 6km (3-1/2 mi) that goes around Dove Lake and passes right under Cradle Mountain.
It takes about 2 hours and is pretty easy, with most of the track being well graded: Some parts even have dedicated board walks. There are some sections that can be a bit slippery though.
For the most part it’s an easy walk with only one hill that some might find a bit steep.
Located on the north-western bank of the lake is a boat-shed that was built in 1940 by the first ranger to the area.
Constructed using locally sourced King Billy Pine, the shingle roof and rough-sawn wooden wall cladding really caught my eye and cast me back to a time when nothing had to comply with occupational health and safety and red tape.
In 1983 there was some restoration work done on the boat-shed, but it still hold true to its heritage and is as close to it’s original design and construction.
It remains unused now, and has done since about 1960 when all boating activity ceased. Today the boat-shed stands as a reminder what once was.
The Return Leg
Despite the rain and cold, and even though there was cloud cover at Dove Lake when we arrived, the rain broke around 13:00, and by 13:30 the sun had started to peek through the cloud.
As it turned out, this was one of the few days you could actually see Cradle Mountain from the banks of the lake because its is usually in heavy cloud.
By the time we were ready to head back to Devonport, the roads had mostly dried out and we didn’t need our wet weather gear, but we kept it on for warmth just in case.
We did eventually pass through the towns I mentioned earlier but we didn’t stop, Instead we came back a few days later and had a look around.
…And What Of The Pillion?
You might be wondering how The Pillion fared with the cold and wet on the ride up to Cradle Mountain.
Well, lets just say she had a liner in her jacket, plus she was wearing a hoody and she tucked herself in behind me to ward off some of the wind and rain.
She was still a little cold, but at least she could move her fingers when we stopped.
Cheers ’til next time.
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