Dove Lake Circuit

Posted Sunday 19th April 2015

The second day of our visit to Cradle Mountain started with a forecast of showers, but we were going walking no matter what. With low cloud blanketing the heights and blocking the views, we decided to stay at lower altitudes and do the Dove Lake Circuit.

We arrived at the Dove Lake car park at 8:30 in very cold conditions: 3°C, showers, and with a strong wind blowing. We sat in the car for an hour hoping (largely futilely) for the conditions to improve, before deciding to start our walk anyway.

The view on our arrival…

Time to go!

Photography in the wet and windy conditions was quite hard, with the cameras frequently getting wet despite our best efforts. But they seemed to survive more or less unscathed.

We started off just in front of a bus-load of tourists, so we legged it to stay in front of the hordes.

The first point of interest on the circuit is Glacier Rock, a huge boulder perched on the eastern side of the lake.

Access to the rock is via a child-proof gate, which fortunately I was able to defeat after only a minute or two. On top of the rock the wind was howling. Combined with the wet conditions it wasn’t a pleasant place to be, despite the nice views.

The boat shed on the far shore.

Most of the crowd stopped at Glacier Rock, so we now had the track mostly to ourselves.

As we made our way around the lake we came across several little beaches.

On the far side of the lake we could see Plateau Creek dropping the 300 m down from Cradle Plateau in a series of waterfalls. Once the creek reaches the level of the lake it flows through the Ballroom Forest.

At the bottom of the lake the peaks of Cradle Mountain towered above: Little Horn to the left and Weindorfers Tower to the right. The ragged cloud blew through the teeth, driven hard by the wind.

The sheltered sections of the track gave us a welcome break from the weather.

Views of Cradle Mountain came and went by the minute. A few specks of blue sky gave us cause for optimism.

The forest sections also gave us a chance to see some of the distinctively Tasmanian plants up close.

Pandani (Richea Pandanifolia).

Pencil Pine (Athrotaxis Cupressoides).

Down at the southern end of the lake we had Little Horn and Weindorfers Tower right above us. Between the forest and the rock is the Face Track, so named because it traverses the face of the peaks. And below the rocky cliffs of Weindorfers Tower (the right peak in the photos below) is Lake Wilks, which sits about 130 m higher than Dove Lake.

Out in the lake, peeping between the trees, were the Honeymoon Islands.

In front of us rose the cliffs at the edge of the Cradle Plateau, with the Ballroom Forest nestled at its base.

At the end of the lake was a seat with a nice view. It wasn’t a day for sitting around, but the view was still worth admiring.

Shortly afterwards the track entered some mossy forest where the Lake Wilks track branches off. The track clung to the hillside as it skirted the rocky cliffs.

We emerged briefly from the forest at a small cove, the dark water fringed by beech and pine.

The track plunged back into the Ballroom Forest: dark and mossy.

In the heart of the Ballroom Forest is the gorgeous Plateau Creek: its dark tannin-stained waters flowing over a bed of white quartzite and bordered by moss-covered trees.

King Billy Pines in the Ballroom Forest

The weather had changed its mind: the blue sky had gone and more showers were on the way.

When the rain returned one of the most vivid rainbows I’ve ever seen appeared behind us. Our long-suffering cameras got a good soaking, but you don’t see things like this every day.

The rain passed and the sun made a more determined effort to emerge.

The latter part of the circuit is quite open, and the improving weather gave us some good views across the lake. Even Cradle Mountain was almost emerging from the cloud.

Close to the end of the walk is the iconic boat shed. It fits the landscape very well, and is constructed from shingles cut from King Billy Pine.

I couldn’t be bothered getting the tripod out, so we had to make do with individual selfies…

We reached the car park in about 2 hours for the 6·5 km. The day had brightened considerably from the morning, but it was still very cold so we opted to eat lunch in the car. It gave us a chance to warm up and dry off our cameras before setting off for our next walk