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A Whirlwind Escapade

menu_book picture_as_pdf bookMichael Cridland Bushwalk Australia Tasmania Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP

Lindsay and Barn Bluff, 3 kilometres away and 340 metres higher

Tasmania a hiking destinationYes, an iconic destination for so many other reasons, but for me, visiting Tassie has always been about opportunities to explore its wild and rugged and remote wilderness areas.

A Whirlwind Escapade

Text and photosMichael Cridland

4 | Bushwalk April 2023

Cradle Mountain on the left with Barn Bluff on the skyline

For whatever reason every reason under the sun tripping to Tassie had been put on the back-burner for years too far away, too expensive, too busy with work and life in general.

Then, one quiet Saturday morning at home in Queensland, the tropical January heat got to me and with local bushwalking opportunities having oppressive weather forecasts, Tasmania was typed wishfully into the search engine. This is the story of the amazing, whirlwind, three-day adventure that took place when my good mate, Lindsay, and I committed to making this dream of exploring lutruwita a reality, when some five days later, on a Thursday evening, we landed in Launceston.

Brisbane to TassieDue to some minor delays touchdown into Launceston was slightly later than scheduled, but this didn’t dampen the high spirits. Lindsay works for an Australian airline, so he flew with them. I used Frequent Flyer points, so I flew with another operator. We

regrouped, grabbed our hire car and headed straight for our wonderful friends at their beautiful Fork n Farm Artisan Homestead in the Tamar Valley. There we had a quick and long-overdue catch-up, grabbed the gas canisters they’d sourced for us (so we could start the walk early the next day) and continued on. It wasn’t until almost two hours later at around midnight, having managed to dodge the plethora of amazing wildlife on the winding roads, that we arrived at our cottage at the Silver Ridge Retreat. This would prove to be a top spot as our base for the first and third nights of our long weekend, with the iconic and somewhat daunting Mount Roland towering above.

Ronny Creek to Cradle MountainAn early start saw us complete the 40 minute drive to the trailhead and arrive not long after dawn. Only a few hundred metres into our walk, we were greeted by a beaut little wombat who escorted us on the first section of what would be 36 kilometres of incredible hiking and rock scrambling. Over the next two days, I would pinch myself every few


metres, figuratively, but also once or twice, literally, as I couldn’t quite believe we’d made this happen. The timeline from conception to execution was short. It added to the surreal sense of amazement and wonder, as we ventured into this incredible wilderness.

The other element that added to the experience was the weather we’d watched it for the five days prior. It started out looking okay, then got better and better as the days went by. But of course, we knew the stories of the weather down this way being fickle, and we knew to expect the potential for four seasons across the two days. It didn’t happen. The sun glowed against amazingly superb blue skies each morning, contrasting beautifully against the scattering of high clouds. Coupled with overcast afternoons and about three drops of rain while setting up the tents at Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut on Friday afternoon, the weather gods were in our corner.

After parting ways with our wombat guide, we continued on, through a magnificent section of the track. This section meanders through a moss-covered forest, following a crystal clear mountain stream and passing an enchanting waterfall. The scene was set. We had only just started and my mind was blown by the beauty of this country!

As we reached the boat shed on Crater Lake, we realised just how still it was there was not one ripple in the lake and the looming landscape above was reflected perfectly, almost making me dizzy when I tried to focus on where the watery reflection stopped and then met the rise of the mountain above. To top it off, the sky was the most amazing blue I think I had ever seen.

From here the track climbed steeply towards Marions Lookout, where we would have the most spectacular view of Dove Lake, Hansons Peak, Cradle Mountain and a distant Barn Bluff, peeking ever so discreetly above the horizon to the south.

Climbing Cradle MountainFrom Marions it was a short but awe-inspiring walk to Kitchen Hut at the base of Cradle Mountain, where we would leave our main packs and swap them for smaller daypacks for the steep ascent. Having read stories of the local black currawong birds being extremely crafty at unzipping pockets on packs to gain access to snacks, we were careful to use our pack covers and empty the most accessible of our pack pockets. Or so we thought on our return Linds would find that, sure enough, a sneaky bird or two had obliged to empty one of the pockets he’d forgot to. This proved a great laugh

Crater Lake

6 | Bushwalk April 2023 notes and maps on webpage, GPX and PDF

This map is © and is created using data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff

Road, four-wheel drive track, walking track (treed)

Main track, side trip, alternate route

Cliff, major contour line, minor contour line (50 metre interval)

Lake, river, waterfall or creek

0 km 1 2 3 4 5 km

Start of the walk






and for the rest of the trip, whenever we saw currawongs on the prowl, I happily reminded Linds that they were obviously waiting around for their next free feed at his expense.

With our smaller packs on and being some 12 kilograms lighter, we started the climb up Cradle with great gusto. This proved to be short-lived and in no time at all our leg muscles were burning from the rock hopping and steep scrambling. I must admit though, I hadn’t done this sort of hiking for a while, and so rediscovered my love of bagging peaks like this leaping from one rock to the next, all the while being amazed by the boundless vistas in every direction. It was some of the best fun I’d had out on a track in quite a while a magnificent hike, with a gigantic obstacle course thrown in for good measure!

Enjoying the spoils of the view from the summit was next-level amazing! It felt like standing on top of the world and we were lucky enough to have it to ourselves!

Cradle Mountain to Scott Kilvert Memorial HutOnce the peak was in the bag, the incredible views soaked up, and some pics and videos were taken to commemorate and remember the feat, we climbed down to regather our main packs. Lindsay’s pack was slightly lighter now, thanks to the currawongs. We chose the Face Track which had beaut views of Dove Lake to the north and the northern

aspect of Cradle’s Little Horn and Weindorfers Tower looming directly above us for the length of the traverse.

The section of the trail following the Face Track and on to Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut was through some superb country and passed many picturesque lakes and tarns at the base of Cradle Mountain’s eastern flank. We were pumped to be approaching our digs for the night while often pausing to look up at Cradle’s peaks to remember the view from the top and smile at the accomplishment of making it to the peak under beaut blue skies.

Making it to Scott Kilvert was a great feeling it meant we could settle in and relax for the afternoon, while setting up the tents, checking out the hut and exploring the beauty of the surrounding area. Situated on the shores of Lake Rodway, the hut is a tribute to teacher Ewen Scott and one of his students, David Kilvert, who both tragically died when weather conditions deteriorated during a multi-day school hike in 1965. The hut provides shelter, or hikers can camp on the tent platforms while using the hut and facilities to add a touch of warmth and “luxury” to their adventures.

Choosing to use one of the four platforms for our tents, we enjoyed meeting some other hikers and shared stories of the track over sundowners and dinner while darkness descended on our magical little patch of the multiverse. It had been a big day.

Michael on the summit of Cradle with Barn Bluff in the centre distance

8 | Bushwalk April 2023

Bagging Barn BluffThankfully, we slept well and rose early to pack the tents and leave our main packs in the hut (out of the way of any curious currawongs).

The steep walk out of the Lake Rodway valley was thick with iconic Tasmanian wilderness. Moss-covered terrain, amazingly colourful wildflowers and views back towards the lake and the mountains beyond, had our bleary, early-morning eyes adjusting and widened in no time at all. It was a decent distance to

the top before we would spy Barn Bluff on the horizon, but the country was incredibly beautiful, so we took it all in and enjoyed the anticipation of reaching the top of this section, to arrive at Cradle Mountain’s southern base.

From this vantage point we spied our goal for the day the distinct mammoth that is Barn Bluff, at 1,559 metres above sea level. Still some 4 kilometres away, it was as daunting as ever, jutting from the earth like a mammoth Statesperson of the wilderness, overseeing and overshadowing all and sundry below.

Lake Rodway dawn

Wildflowers at Cradle Cirque


Barn Bluff talus with Cradle in the distance

The track to the base of Barn Bluff starts as a narrow wooden boardwalk to protect the fragile alpine environment. Once at the base, with the legs now well and truly warmed up, the steep climb began and the cardio really started to get tested. As the vegetation among the rocks gave way to rocks upon more rocks, the climb became a scramble from one sideways pillar to the next.

This was similar to Cradle Mountain’s climb, and we were in our element, loving every minute of the ascent. The sun was rising higher in the sky, gleaming between Barn Bluff’s iconic pillars of rock, with an amazing blue sky and the perfect smattering of beautiful, contrasting white cloud to complete a picture perfect summit view again, all to ourselves. The summit was the definition of serene. One of the quietest spots I think I have ever been. We soaked it in, while watching the clouds off to the north-east build and darken ever so slightly.

Back to the Trackhead via Hansons PeakWe started descending Barn Bluff knowing we had quite a day ahead of us about 15 kilometres further, on top of the 6 kilometres already under our belts. With only our daypacks to contend with until we returned to

our main packs at Scott Kilvert, we made the most of the easier walking the main thing slowing our progress being the rocks on Barn Bluff and magnificent views as we descended towards Lake Rodway.

With the main packs donned and the peaks of Cradle and Barn Bluff bagged and behind us, we left the hut to hike out to the trackhead and complete the two-day loop. This last section was long. It may have been all in the mind, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the earlier hiking. The legs were spent and although the views from Hansons Peak were glorious and the terrain overlooking Dove Lake was superb, we were nonetheless heading back towards civilisation. The tourists at the northern end of Dove Lake near the carpark and bus drop-off point did nothing to lift the spirits either. And then, I caught myself and reminded myself of where we were, where we had just been and quickly returned to the precious present moment to smile and regain that sense of achievement for what we had accomplished over the last two days. I slowed the pace just a little, as it was pretty exciting to get back to the car and a cold drink and soak up the last section of trail back to Ronny Creek. We finished as we started, with three wombats escorting us back to the trackhead.

10 | Bushwalk April 2023


What a whirlwind!We spent Saturday night back at our Silver Ridge Retreat cottage, enjoying a scrumptious take-away feed and a few quiet celebratory drinks reminiscing our epic adventure. Sunday was a self-drive tour of the incredibly scenic north coast in our little rental car, before finding some pub grub and old world

culture back towards Launceston and nearby to the airport to make our Sunday night flights home.

What a whirlwind weekend, full of amazing memories! The tiny part of the Tasmanian wilderness we explored is absolutely magical. Tassie delivered and I can’t wait to return to explore further!

Barn Bluff