Day 5: Cradle Mountain to Launceston, Tasmania (22nd April 2008)

(...swish, swosh, swish, swosh...) Bloody hell, who WAS THAT rummaging through the bags at freaking 5 or 6 am in the morning??! Turned out to be Kate and I seriously have no idea what she was doing - we all knew she was an early riser (even earlier than me) but going in and out of the room and going through her bags several times, that really irritated me. And after several attempts of hunting for whatever she was looking for, she turned on the lights! I just couldn't sleep after that. Sure hope I have enough energy to climb Cradle Mountain today...

After breakfast, we checked out of our accommodation and headed to the mountains. Some photos taken before we took off (our accommodation and a black pepper berry plant):

Stopped at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre briefly and John gave us 2 minutes to check out Pencil Pine Falls nearby - run, people, run! Photos of the 10m waterfall:

There had been sightings of a platypus at Ronny Creek the week before by previous visitors so of course we had to make a stop and try our luck:

Still no sighting of any platypus...but it sure is cold out here!

There are many walks you can do here at Cradle Mountain. The mountain is 1545m high and is one of the favourite features in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, surrounded by native beech, rainforest, alpine heath lands and button grass. John recommended we take a track up Hansons Peak or take an easy walk around Dove Lake, both with a return time of approximately 3 hours. Everyone (including John despite his recent knee surgery) went for option 1 except for Kate (and honestly, I think she made the right choice and perhaps I should have followed her) - the track up to Hansons Peak was truly a challenge. Rocky paths and steps, even steep slopes which you had to get on all four to haul yourself to the next boulder. Wratty and Louise were way ahead of me! Didn't help much that I had short legs - wait up!!

Finally, I'm at the 1,121m summit of Hansons Peak and wow, the view here is AMAZING! Though I don't think I would like to climb this peak again - that last section was a bit too much to handle. Way too steep that we had to hold on to the steel poles pinned into the rubble. I'm not looking forward heading back that way but we don't have much choice. It was the easiest and shortest way back. Oh well, wish me luck! Photos taken during our hike:

Despite the challenge faced during my climb, I actually felt really good. It was a sense of achievement being able to accomplish something difficult :) I can DO IT!

Stopped for lunch at Cradle Mountain Cafe - hmm, sausage roll and ice-cream ain't good lunch...yuck...I'm so bad to myself...

No sure whose suggestion it was to head back to the mountain to this famous photo spot so at 2pm, we headed back where we were earlier. Took the 15 minute Lake Lilla Walk to the photo spot and sure enough, it was well worth it :) Photos taken:

Time for us to get back onto the bus and head to Launceston with plenty of distractions along the way! First stop, Ashgrove Cheese Factory to sample the numerous varieties of cheese, including the exotic Wild Wasabi (I like!) and Lavender cheese (hmm, tastebud can't quite make sense of the taste). Lots of old people around though. Guess it was some tour group or something. Photos taken at Ashgrove Cheese Factory:

Another brief stop was at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. Hmm, nothing too interesting, just everything raspberry sold in the cafe. Well, it got interesting when my eyes went up the board and asked aloud what Lust Dust was. A few of us got a sampling of the Lust Dust (which was like sprinkled raspberry flavoured candy). Hmm, John will have to watch us from his back mirror to see if me, Wratty, Kate and Louise were feeling 'lusty'...hehe...Photos taken at the cafe (have to photo the Lust Dust of course!):

At 5pm, we piled onto the bus and headed for the drive to Launceston. John had us all laughing in stitches listening to his selection of local country music. Oh, I laughed so hard! I'm really having a great time on this trip :)

Around 6pm, we arrived in Launceston and was dropped off at Balmoral on York. Nice place - we've gone upmarket again :) I shared the room with Louise tonight and we had the whole family room to ourselves. Plus, breakfast was included - how great is that! John wasn't staying with us but headed home instead (he lives in Launceston).

A quick shower later, the gang (minus Kate) got together at the motel lobby and headed into town for dinner and drinks. Niek and Ilse were still getting ready so Wratty, Louise and I got a drink at the bar downstairs while we waited. Wratty was so naughty - he told the waitress that the first drink was free as part of our stay. The poor waitress was quite confused and had to go through documents, verifying it with another staff member. Oh Wratty, look what you've done!

The 5 of us headed into town in search for a place for dinner and ended up in Izakaya Japanese restaurant in Yorktown Square. Hmm, I love Japanese food! My Asahi beer and unagi (BBQ eel) set meal for AUD31 was so yummy!! And can you believe that Niek and Isle both can handle chopsticks better than me? Their 3 week tour in China taught them well :)

After dinner, we headed to the pub near our accommodation, O'Keefe's Hotel bar for drinks. It was rather quite in town and about 11pm, the bar was closed. We walked around town in search for another bar. It was so quiet and everything was closed. Gee, this is worse than in Wellington (and I already think Wellington lacks nightlife)...Oh well, guess we should call it a night then...NOT! Louise and I found that the drinks in the minibar in our rooms worked out cheaper than sold at the bar (strangely enough) and rung up the others to join us for drinks in our room. We chatted and laughed at our travel stories till about 1am! Photos taken tonight:

I have the word 'brilliant' repeating in my head for the last few days - it seemed to be the word of the week for Niek in most of his sentences. Brilliant!


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