Monday, 11 January 2010

Tassie Day 4 – Canoeing and wildlife spotting

After yesterday's climbing efforts, we had a slightly more relaxing day lined up today. Took full advantage of the hot buffet breakfast (full cooked brekkie plus a pancake for good measure – always feel it's important to get your $$ worth!) and then met up with our canoe guide for the morning, Claire. Along with another couple, we'd arranged for a morning of gentle canoeing round Dove Lake, which was formed by glaciation in the last ice age and sits just below Cradle Mountain. It was a beautiful day, quite warm and with a gentle breeze, although still we had to get a bit wrapped up to fend off the chill from the glacial waters. K and I were both feeling ok after our walk yesterday, but glad to be using our arms rather than our legs! Think we both enjoyed the feeling of smugness when telling the others about doing the mountain as they all looked very impressed!!

The canoeing was quite gentle and very relaxing to be out on the hushly quiet of the lake. We did a full circumference, stopping off at a couple of places along the way, taking us about 1.5 hrs in total. Once we got back to the start, K and I decided to then walk round the lake which took about another 1.5 hrs, by which time we were definitely ready for lunch! We had a mediocre frittata at the visitor centre cafe – took ages to arrive, then was still frozen in the middle, then it was obviously nuked in the microwave – before heading back to the hotel for a bit of chill time before dinner and the evening's wildlife tour.

Around 9pm we joined a minibus full of other guests and set off along the national park roads. As Tassie is quite a bit further south than Sydney, it gets dark a lot later and at 9pm was only just getting dusky. It's amazing how much the temperature drops at night – having spent the day feeling comfortable in t-shirts, we now had our fleeces, hats and gloves on! As our bus trundled along, our guide gave us lots of interesting facts about the local wildlife, most of which I've since forgotten – but it was fascinating at the time, honest! We spotted lots of animals from the bus – two types of wallabies (Bennets and Paddy Melons), loads of wombats and a possum. Then we went on a short walk where we also saw a quoll and more wombats, including one that was only a couple of feet away. Sadly we didn't see any Tasmanian Devils – apparently they're now almost extinct because of a contagious face cancer that's spreading through the population very quickly. It's one of very few contagious cancers in the animal world and apparently they're particuarly vulnerable to it because the population of devils is highly inbred, following the destruction of most of the gene pool after British colonisation.

Anyway, apart from that sad story, the night tour was a fun end to our time in Cradle Mountain!

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