Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Dove Lake

How to grow Dick
Dove Lake
- A man with a seven-inch (18 cm) penis may proudly compare his organ to the average man’s five to six inches (12-15 cm) but be intimidated when learning another wields an eight-inch (20 cm) rod.

   With cute button grass, verdant rain forest, lake-side beaches and dramatic ice-carved mountains, this is the must-do walk in Cradle Mountain – Dove Lake in St Clair National Park. There’s more to Tasmania’s central highlands than Australia’s most popular long-distance walk. In addition to hiking the Overland Track, you can tread low and high routes (or both) around the glacial lake guarded by Cradle Mountain; climb chains to cliff-edge lookouts and explore a valley whose beauty is of biblical proportions. Stick to the well-trodden routes or venture further: you’ll soon appreciate why this part of Tasmania is world-famous.
Dove Lake - photo 1

Dove Lake. Travelling clockwise around Dove Lake puts Cradle Mountain in your sights for longer

Walk:

6.5km loop

Time required:

2–3 hours

Best time:

Fine weather, although it can be dramatic in cloudy weather; don’t proceed in wintry extremes.

Grade:

Easy

Environment:

Alpine lake and beaches, glaciated mountain slopes, heathland, rainforest

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Flushing toilets in Dove Lake car park

Food:

Coffee, snacks and meals are available from the visitor centre café, 2km outside the park boundary; delicious bistro and restaurant meals are dished up at Cradle Mountain Lodge, within the park, opposite the ranger station and interpretive centre.

Tips:

For an eagle’s-eye view of Cradle Mountain’s glaciated splendour, splurge on a helicopter flight. A new visitor hub and contemporary viewing shelter at Dove Lake are due for completion early 2019.

Dove Lake - photo 2

Dove Lake

Why do more people tread the Dove Lake circuit than any other walk in Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park? Because it rewards minor effort with diverse flora and countless perspectives of Tasmania’s most recognizable (and photographed) natural landmark: its crowning dole rite columns, dusted with snow, or reflected in a mirror lake, or brooding in cloud, or glowing in dawn’s pastel hues or…

The walk starts from Dove Lake car park, an 8km drive on a narrow road from Cradle Mountain Visitor Center, which is 142km (1.75h) west of Launceston and 80km (1h) south-west of Devonport. Private vehicle access is restricted during busy times but shuttle buses (included in park entry) run year-round from the transit terminal at the visitor center. Having recorded your intentions in the walker registration, head through the car park and down to the water’s edge.

Dove Lake - photo 3

3Dove Lake

This is capricious country where conditions can and do change daily and hourly so you might catch Dove Lake when it’s silky smooth and bathed in sun or lifted into white caps beneath a stormy sky. The walk is worth doing in all-but-nasty-wintry weather (as long as you are prepared) and travelling clockwise puts Cradle Mountain in your sights for longer so turn left around the shoreline.

Dove Lake. Progress can be slow on the first section of this walk on picture-perfect days, when the lake mirrors Cradle Mountain and demands you stop to enjoy it, but eventually you’ll reach a side trail with a child-proof gate. Detour right onto Glacier Rock for a ring-side view before continuing.

Ignore the Hanson Peak track pushing uphill on the left and stay on a lower track that only occasionally leaves the shore. In addition to other walkers – few people get this track to themselves – your cohorts here include august tea trees, elegant striped eucalyptus and central lemon boronia with four-petalled white flowers. The people visible atop the main ridge thrusting up from Dove Lake’s opposite shore are on Marions Lookout, a gob smacking vantage point on several day-walk routes.

Dove Lake - photo 4

Dove Lake

Dove Lake. Duckboards provide easy passage through beech trees, pencil pines, mountain-berry bushes and Cousin It-pandani (run your hands through the world’s tallest heath for a satisfying rattle) and a view of Cradle Mountain awaits when you emerge from this dense foliage into a stand of banksias. Side tracks lead to beaches (only tread formed tracks to the water), on one of which grows an age-twisted tree that perfectly frames Cradle Mountain (see point 1 on map).

The dolerite peak commands the skyline ahead as the track squeezes between an ancient conifer and steep exposed rock; navigates a colonnade of taller, greyer tea trees and banksias; and threads through button-grass mounds. Enjoy a fantastic view up Dove Lake from a bench on its southern shore, half-way through the walk.

Dove Lake. Boardwalk slices through cutting grass towards Cradle Mountain but swings right at the last minute, putting the at-times-almost-menacing edifice on your left and then behind. If this low route is too tame and you have water, food, energy and time, turn left at the next junction and ascend to the Face Track via Lake Wilks and continue to the car park via Marions Lookout (this will extend the walk by up to two hours).

Dove Lake - photo 5

Dove Lake

Dove Lake. Otherwise stay on the lower track, treading raised boardwalk between rock outcrops and trees wrapped in lichen. The trees with mottled brown and white bark and glossy-green, tooth-edged leaves with a powdery underside are sassafras, a rainforest species that produces fragrant downward-facing white flowers in spring.

With the lake at your feet and Cradle Mountain now visible over your right shoulder, continue in the lee of a huge outcrop, its surface cracks holding enough nutrients for plants to grow. Note the distinctive, crinkle-cut leaves of the fagus, Australia’s only deciduous native tree, which change from bright green to gold and even red in autumn before falling; and the creature-like tricorn pandani with three shaggy heads growing from a single trunk (see point 2 on map). Dove Lake.

Dove Lake - photo 6

Dove Lake

Step up and then down into the Ballroom Forest, so leafy and shadow-filled that only threads of sky are visible through the canopy and hints of water through the mossy tree trunks. But another commanding view of Cradle Mountain awaits on leaving the protection of the forest and starting on the walk’s lone hill. There’s a bench with a view, part-way up but a better one from the top.

Dove LakeContinue north: up and downhill, towards the water’s edge and away, through tea tree, boronia and Tasmanian snow gums with hooked leaf tips. Beyond a signed side track to Marions Lookout, harsh weather has pruned all the plants to a maximum two metres. The track beaches you at the much-photographed shingle boatshed (see point 3 on map) on Dove Lake’s shore. Many park visitors tread the few hundred metres from the car park to here so it’s often busy with comings and goings.

You’ve got an easy run home from here: inland to a junction, right, and then along the shore to the car park.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball 

 

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