Crater Peak Circuit
Posted Sunday 31st January 2016
We woke to the sound of rain on the roof of our cabin this morning, which was all the excuse we needed to sleep in. And with daylight savings ending overnight, we were gifted an additional hour.
With the day seemingly not much good for walking, we thought we’d go for one or two of the shorter walks. But when we got to the park entrance the barrier gate showed there was still room at the car parks, despite it being late in the morning (they usually fill up quickly). And the weather looked as though it might be clearing. The omens were good, so we continued on.
We decided to do one of the walks I’d been hoping to do: a loop over Crater Peak from Ronny Creek.
Ronny Creek is the start of the very popular Overland Track, one of the classic walks in Australia, and we would be following it for about half our journey today. So it wasn’t a surprise that we got tangled up with a group of about a dozen campers starting along the track. But they never seemed to take any time to admire the scenery: not waterfalls, not lakes, not the forest… Why would you do a walk like this and not spend a few minutes?
We followed the track up towards Crater Lake. The weather was clearing as we walked, which was encouraging.
Once again we took time at Crater Falls for some photography (I can’t resist a waterfall).
From the falls it was just a short walk up to Crater Lake and the boat shed.
Crater Lake looked great, and the weather was good enough for us to be able to see the surrounding peaks — including Crater Peak, which we would soon be climbing.
Crater Peak lit by the sunshine.
Close-up of Crater Peak.
From the boat shed the path climbed steadily up the ridge towards Marions Lookout. As we gained altitude we started to get some views, but as we went up the cloud came down.
Crater Lake already well below us.
Looking back to Ronny Creek where the walk started.
The final pinch up to Marions Lookout was quite steep, with more chain sections.
Despite the weather we still got some great views from the lookout.
Lake Wilks peeping out behind the mountainside at the lower left.
Dove Lake and Hansons Peak.
From Marions Lookout the track leveled out as it followed the Cradle Plateau. A few days ago we had some great views here towards Cradle Mountain, but today there was nothing to see.
As we continued across the plateau towards Kitchen Hut the weather continued to worsen, and we got some rain.
About half a kilometre short of Kitchen Hut we reached the junction where Horse Track branched off, which was our route back to Crater Peak. It was obviously a secondary track: the main Overland Track had nice solid boardwalks in the damp sections, but on Horse Track it was just old corduroy and was splashy and muddy.
It was cold and windy up on the exposed plateau, so when we reached a creek valley we took advantage of the shelter and stopped for lunch.
The local wildlife.
While we were there our fortunes changed for the better, with breaks of bright blue sky appearing. As we climbed out of the valley we discovered that Cradle Mountain had emerged from of the cloud. And we could even see a couple of people at the summit — it must have been an exciting climb up there in the cloud!
We splashed along the Horse Track and then followed a small creek through a small quartzite-lined gully. Up ahead was Crater Peak: from this side it didn’t look like much.
After a short walk we reached a junction where a side track led to the summit. Instantly the peak seemed much more impressive, with crags on the southern edge and the cliffs on the eastern face falling away steeply down to Crater Lake.
The views extended from Cradle Mountain, over Crater Lake, Lake Lilla and Dove Lake, right down to Ronny Creek. It was very windy, however, which didn’t encourage us to linger too long.
Soon after Crater Peak the track reached the end of the plateau, and began dropping down the hill side.
We soon reached Scout Hut and walked up the short side track for a look, just as a lady emerged from within. She graciously invited us in for a look (her family had rented it at a ridiculously cheap rate for Easter). I can safely say it is the nicest hut I’ve ever been in, and we immediately began thinking about renting it ourselves!
From the hut it was just a short walk back to Ronny Creek, with once last highlight being a wombat casually munching on the grass down in the creek valley, and ignoring us completely.
Our walk of 11 km and 590 m ascent had taken a little over 5 hours. But it was still only mid-afternoon, so we started thinking about what else we could do…