Friday, August 10, 2012

Winter wonderland

Stirring just before 6am, I anxiously stumbled to the front door to look outside. What greeted me was a sight so beautiful I almost cried…with relief. Gently waking the family, we excitedly looked out to see a blanket of snow at our doorstep. 

Early morning snow fall
A promise kept. 

With three smiles all a mile wide, we made our way through the falls to the lodge for breakfast.

Blizzard over Cradle Mountain
On today’s agenda was a trip into the world heritage area of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. Pass in hand, we left the visitor centre and entered the park via the National Park's shuttle bus. Taking us as far as Dove Lake, we drove through a winter wonderland, a beautiful blanket of white transforming the landscape. Bravely stepping off the warm bus we were left at Dove Lake to be amazed at the scenery…that was if we could see it. It was at that point in time that a blizzard hit. Snow driving in horizontally with a strong wind behind it leaving us somewhat underprepared for the elements. 

While the short one and I took refuge in the shelter, Dad thought better of it and walked down to the waterfront to find the historic boatshed.

Boat shed, Dove Lake

With shuttle buses leaving every 20 minutes, it was my endeavour to get on the next one with or without him!  Fortunately, a darkened figure appeared through the white out to reveal a somewhat wet and worse for wear Daddy just as the shuttle appeared.

Once aboard we started to thaw out a little, while all I could think of was Mawson and James Scott. It was about now that Paul asked the driver about the next stop. Whilst I was all for the fireplace back at the chalet, with a mulled wine in hand, he apparently had better ideas.

‘We are here to see the snow and do snow storm. Snow storm we will do.’ Dragging the family off the bus at Ronny Creek, the official start of the infamous overland track, he did at least think better of us doing that walk. Considered the holy grail of bushwalks, taking 5-7 days, walkers trek from Cradle Valley through to Lake St Clair. So popular, this walk has now become strictly regulated, with walkers limited each day and charged a premium price. Why anyone would want to do it in this weather was beyond me.

Waldheim Chalet
Instead we were to take the somewhat easier  and shorter route up the hill to Waldheim cabin (German for Forest Home). Gustav Weindorfer was an Austrian immigrant who first came to Cradle Mountain in 1910. He and his Tasmanian wife, Kate, fell in love with the area and worked hard throughout their lives lobbying successive governments to declare it a National Park, for all to enjoy. Fifty years after his death in 1932, their goal was finally realised for their beloved country.

Whilst the original chalet burnt down in 1974, it was rebuilt after much community pressure. Using similar traditional carpentry techniques, an exact replica Waldheim once again rose from the alpine landscape as testament to all that the Weindorfers represented. Though it proved a somewhat easier task than the one in 1912, when Gustav and Kate were only able to reach within 15 kilometres of their new home by horse and cart. The rest of the journey had to be made by foot and packhorse, carrying various building materials and supplies.

The somewhat protected roadway to Waldheim Chalet
The gentle walk to Waldheim

Climbing the gentle rise of the road, one was privy to just a mere glimpse of the climatic hardships that these pioneers must have endured. But deter us, it did not!

We had some snow storm to do!!

PS Sadly, no photos exist of us doing snow storm as the conditions were so camera unfriendly...but snow storm we did do!

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