Cradle Mountain magic

Photo credits: Judith Ramage. Cradle Mountain in summer
Photo credits: Judith Ramage. Cradle Mountain in summer
NICK HODGES

Cradle Mountain National Park, in Tasmania, is a favourite place of mine which I visit on a regular basis, and always in winter. Snow isn’t guaranteed but if I go in the colder months I’m generally lucky.  There’s nothing better than being wrapped up against the cold while undertaking a long walk in the mountains with the wind whistling through the King Billy pines and the snow crunching beneath my boots. And then to conclude the day in a cosy cabin with my tired body roasting in front of a log fire.  

I know the wildlife well and it adds to the visit.  Each time I’m keen to renew my acquaintance with the local creatures – a reunion with old friends of sorts.

Several of the bird species are reminiscent of, but different from, those we see in Sydney. Indeed, over a dozen species, (including the easily-seen black currawong, with its grating call, and the yellow wattlebird with drooping yellow skin on each side of its face), are found only in Tasmania, and nowhere else in the world.

Two  species of wallaby are almost always present on the grassy area around the cabin: the Tasmanian pademelon, a small creature with a thin tail, and Bennett’s wallaby, about a third bigger.  Both have gentle, attractive features.

Wombats are common; quolls, echidnas and Tasmanian devils are harder to see but patience is often rewarded.  And in the lake outside the cabin there lives a platypus which provides entertainment when you’re eating your breakfast.

It’s often thought that parrots are warm climate birds. Wrong! Sometimes when I’m on a walk, with the temperature around zero and icy pinpricks of rain are stinging my face, a couple of green rosellas will speed past.

On one occasion I climbed Barn Bluff, a challenging peak.  I left my rucksack, including my lunch, half way up – I didn’t need it for the final pull to the summit.

On the way down I was looking forward to my sandwiches, but a pair of forest ravens, big, black, crow-like birds had beaten me to it.  My bag was undone and my lunch was now theirs.  But if you have to go hungry then it’s easier in such a lovely place.

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