Dove Canyon

Posted Sunday 19th June 2016

Our last day at Cradle Mountain started with blue sky and sun, which was more than a little annoying since we didn’t have long to enjoy it.

After breakfast and some final packing, we left our cabin and drove down to the lake where we were rewarded with a beautifully clear view of the mountains.

We decided to walk around the lake as far as the boat shed.

Buttongrass fringing a pool near the boat shed.

Hooray for sunshine!

From the boat shed we doubled back to Glacier Rock for the elevated view over the lake.

We had spent a little longer and walked a bit further (2.5 km) at the lake than we’d meant to, but with such great weather it was irresistible.

We drove back to the Ranger Station to begin our final walk, which was to be the Dove Canyon Circuit — an extended version of the walk we did on our first day here.

Crossing the bridge over Pencil Pine Creek.

We started, as before, with the Pencil Pine Falls and, a little further along, Knyvet falls.

Pencil Pine Falls.

Knyvet Falls.

The track continued along the valley for a fair way, sometimes in forest, but increasingly in open country, and gradually climbed away from the creek.

Pencil pine cones.

We crossed a bridge over Pencil Pine Creek, where a sign announced that the track was no longer maintained. We can vouch for this: from here the track became increasingly faint, especially in the forest above Dove Canyon.

After the bridge, we wandered along through some open country before the track took a turn to the right. A side track led away to the left and zig-zagged its way down to the confluence of Pencil Pine Creek and Dove River. I went to explore while LS waited. It was a peaceful spot and worth the visit: Pencil Pine Creek cascaded over some rapids, which left foam swirling on the surface of the water as it mingled with the Dove River.

Rock ledge near the river junction.

Pencil Pine Creek cascades.

Dove River just after the junction with Pencil Pine Creek.

It was a warm sunny day, and for the first time on any of our Tasmanian walks we worked up a bit of a sweat. Soon, however, we plunged back into the cool darkness of the forest above Dove Canyon.

While we were walking along we heard some canyoners go past below us, though we never saw them. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, judging by the excited yelling!

At the southern end of the canyon the track emerged from the forest for some tantalizing almost-but-not-quite views of the canyon: it was right there below us, but very hard to see — even after scrambling right up to the edge.

Far side of the canyon.

Wondering: “What’s over the edge?”…

…a long drop into the canyon!

I’m at a loss to imagine how the canyon formed: the river seems to have cut straight through a hill that stood in its way…

The canyon’s southern end where the river enters the canyon. How did it cut its way into the hill?

Soon after, the track left the canyon rim and climbed steeply up the hillside in a series of rocky scrambles, before easing into a stroll through some fairly open forest.

We had to watch our step here, as the ground was covered with a network of beech roots.

In the forest we came across a long rock formation that looked very much like a wall containing the trees.

A small part of the rock wall peeping out between the trees.

We reached the edge of a buttongrass plain, where we got a last glimpse of Cradle Mountain through the tree tops.

The path curved around to the west and met the main boardwalk from the Ranger Station to Ronny Creek. It’s a clever arrangement with the utilities (such as electricity) running underneath the boardwalk.

Now it was an easy stroll back to the Ranger Station and the end of our walk.

The walk hadn’t been quite what we expected, though it was still good. The canyon itself was a bit of a let down: we had expected it to be the highlight, but we’d hardly seen it. Instead it was the waterfalls, river junction, and dark forest sections that were most memorable.

We had spent longer than expected on the walk (which is so often the way), at about 2:20 for the 6·7 km.

There was nothing much left for us to do with our Tasmanian adventures at an end, so we drove back to Launceston Airport where Jetstar was waiting to disappoint us…