Previous Post: From Deloraine To Gowrie Park Via Sheffield
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I got up to blue skies at Gowrie Park’s Wilderness Village and headed for the kitchen area for breakfast. The sliced whole wheat bread and peanut butter and fruit juice from the previous day’s visit to the IGA in Sheffield were followed by a mug of instant coffee. After I dropped off the key at the reception desk, it was time to get rolling.
As the elevation chart above shows, the gentle uphill on first setting out was followed by an exhilarating but short descent down to the River Forth. In the satellite view below you can see the switchback making its way down to the River Forth; you can also see the bridge that crosses the river.
What you can’t see is the amount of energy I expended moving myself and the loaded bike (36 kg. or 80 lbs. in total!) up a seemingly never-ending series of switchbacks! Definitely the most difficult climb – a sustained one hour – since I had left Hobart!
The one good thing was that there was very little traffic on the road. I had thought that given that Highway C136 goes right by Cradle Mountain it would be busier; perhaps the fact that it was a Tuesday morning in autumn with schools back in session explain the lack of traffic.
When I got to the junction of C136 with C132 I stopped at the Cradle Forest Inn for my reward – a second cup of coffee. It would have made an alternative stop to Gowrie Park, albeit at $140. a night instead of the $10. for my unpowered tent site! I enjoyed the ambiance and chilled for a bit before getting back to the job at hand – getting to Cradle Mountain and the Discovery Parks property.
For some reason I thought the climbing was done when I got to the junction and had my little break. Not quite! Still another 300 meters to gain – and lose and then take back again. Back on the road again here is what was on the menu for the next 1 1/2 hours –
For the last 12 km of the ride the terrain was basically flat and the road took me across a treeless plateau. It looked like there had been a fire in the area in the past decade or so. Again, without really trying, I was getting lots of pics with no vehicles in them!
I got to the side road that takes you from C132 up to Dove Lake at about 1 p.m. A last bit of uphill and I turned in at the Discovery Parks entrance for the reception office. (It is 3 kilometers in from the highway.) Dove lake is another 8 kilometers or so further along the road.) I had pre-booked two nights’ accommodation months ago bacon Toronto. The satellite view below sets the scene –
I was quite impressed with the place – great facilities – showers, gigantic cooking and eating areas,washrooms – everything worked and was well-maintained. The only thing that didn’t work was the wi-fi. You realize what an addiction it has become when you sit there with fellow internet junkies in front of the reception office – the only hot spot on the property – and try to get a hit – um, that should read “try to get online”! it is annoying when a place advertises wi-fi and then does not deliver!
Immediately across from the Discovery Park property is the Welcome Center where you’ll find a Park store with maps and last minute supplies for hikers doing day and multi-day hikes in the park. You also buy your park pass here. Connected to it is a restaurant.
Out back in the parking lot are shuttle buses that leave from here for Dove Lake and other stops along the way. The actual park boundary is two kilometers down the road from the Visitors Center.
The shuttle service is meant to encourage to park their vehicles – especially their campers – and make use of the buses and thus cut down on traffic congestion. It has apparently cut down traffic by about a third. At Dove Lake there is a parking lot that private vehicles can drive to but it is often full in the prime time summer season.
It was a bit late to be setting off for Dove Lake by the time I got myself set up at my tent spot so I decided to leave it for the next morning. I planned to spend the day off the saddle and in my hiking boots walking the trail around Dove lake and maybe to the top of Cradle Mountain itself.
The next morning I would get my own version of the iconic shot of the boat house on Dove Lake with Cradle Mountain in the background!