There are many wondrous walks to choose from in Cradle Mountain National Park but my favourite is Enchanted Walk. Just over one kilometre long, the circuit takes around twenty minutes, depending on how much time one spends admiring the scenery. The trail starts at Cradle Mountain Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Creek as it bubbles along, embraced by mossy banks and majestic trees of the rainforest. On this morning the sunlight danced on the water, highlighting natures artistry.
Tannins from surrounding buttongrass moorland created a startling palette of orange hues amidst the shadows.
As we meandered further into the forest, verdant lichens complemented the russet glow.
At the end of the walk, the creek tumbles over rocks at Pencil Pine Cascades on its way to Pencil Pine Falls and, eventually, on a convoluted journey into the Forth River and Bass Strait.
There are so many wonderful things about staying at Cradle Mountain Lodge and if you enjoy amazing food, the Highland Restaurant is the place to be. We wandered in for breakfast on our first morning, expecting the usual buffet. Not being a fan of buffets, I was pleasantly surprised to find, thanks to social distancing rules, full table service instead. The restaurant had been tastefully refurbished since our previous visit but retained a light, airy and welcoming ambience.
Despite the inclemency outside, the lake was tranquil
while the log fire added warmth inside.
We started with Spreyton fresh juices, a seasonal fruit plate and freshly baked croissants.
I opted for a simple omelette while Michael indulged with smoked salmon, capers and spinach, cheekily adding a pair of poached eggs atop the sourdough.
Returning that evening for dinner, we were awed not only by the flavours of fresh Tasmanian produce but also by the creative works of art presented on our plates. For entrée we chose pepperberry and gin cured ocean trout, beetroot foam & citrus crème fraîche and wallaby scallopini, tomato, king brown mushroom & truffle.
We couldn’t resist the Scottsdale pork belly, Tasmanian scallops & apple rémoulade and beef fillet, truffle mash, buttered asparagus & black garlic for mains.
Of course, we had saved room in our dessert stomachs. Already impressed by the artistic talents in the kitchen, they excelled themselves with the sweet offerings. The coconut panna cotta, pistachio sponge & moss seemed inspired by nature
and the chocolate forest floor with chocolate fungi & chocolate floss was truly spectacular.
We waddled back to our cabin, convinced we wouldn’t need to eat for a week. It turned out that wasn’t the case, we were back for breakfast in fine form. This time we followed the fruit plate and croissants with a Mountain Breakfast – bacon, sausage, eggs your way, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, sourdough, sautéed potatoes & house baked beans.
With a menu that changes seasonally, I think the time is nigh for another visit.
Last time we spent the weekend at Cradle Mountain Lodge we promised ourselves we would make it a regular treat, perhaps once a year. Nine years on, we returned last month for a mid-week stay, the impetus being Michael’s birthday. After a leisurely scenic drive of just over an hour, we felt compelled to inspect the new, controversial, Visitor Centre. With all the negative publicity, I wasn’t expecting to find, in my opinion, a rather impressive construction.
Once the hundreds of plantings have grown, I think it will blend well with the environment.
The lodge looks stunning with a new face lift
and the reconfigured reception area has lost none of its welcoming charm.
We checked in to our Pencil Pine cabin, surrounded by wildlife
with a distant view of Cradle Mountain,
and returned to the tavern for lunch.
The guest lounge is cosy and comfortable
and there were two chairs by the fire that definitely had our names on them.
Our cabin was an easy stroll from the lodge, passing many contented furry residents along the way, obviously used to the comings and goings of the human variety.
The next day brought rain, a soothing constant downpour with not a breath of wind.
After a hearty breakfast, we retired to the guest lounge for a couple of hours of enforced relaxation before making our way to Waldheim Spa for a spot of pampering. Michael savoured a sixty minute Aromasoul massage by the lovely Eka, while Kayoko treated me to a Tension Tonic Ritual – a delicious hour of body massage, foot treatment and scalp therapy.
Anticipating a sumptuous dinner at the Highland Restaurant, we returned to the cabin for a cheese platter and quiet afternoon, hoping the forecast snow would materialise. Despite -4°C overnight, snow didn’t eventuate but a heavy frost and ice greeted us the next morning.
We couldn’t resist a final indulgence with a cooked breakfast followed by an easy walk in the crisp, clear air before departing for home, vowing to do this more often.