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Enchanted Walk Cradle Mountain

Enchanted Walk

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Directions - The Enchanted Walk is located two hours west of Launceston in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. Take Bass Highway out of the city until you reach Railton Road, then take a left and continue following the signs for Cradle Mountain as you pass through Sheffield, cross the River Forth and climb back up towards the final turn-off taking you towards the Visitor Centre. Parts of the drive are tight and twisty, and care should be taken in inclement weather. The Enchanted Walk starts near the Cradle Mountain Interpretive Centre, reached by taking one of the frequent shuttle buses from the Visitor Centre (ticket required).

The Walk - Visiting the Cradle Mountain area as part of a pre-Overland Track series of hikes, I had spent the morning summiting Cradle Mountain before the weather turned and the rain arrived. Spoiling my plans to hike the Dove Lake Circuit, I looked elsewhere in the park for something to do before I drove back to my accommodation in Deloraine. Luckily there are plenty of hikes around the Cradle Mountain area, so I adjusted my plans to take in a couple of the shorter walks that didn't rely on epic vistas as part of their appeal. When I saw the Enchanted Walk in the brochure, I was immediately drawn to it because just by the name alone, it sounded like the perfect trail for the wet and moody weather I was experiencing today.

Finishing the Cradle Mountain hike, I negotiated the bun fight of tourists at the Dove Lake Visitor Centre and waited in line for the shuttle bus back up the hill. Getting off at the Cradle Mountain Interpretive Centre, I had a look around the displays there, while I waited for the rain to subside. Realising it probably wasn't going to clear this afternoon, I set about walking the short distance to the start of the Enchanted Walk, located near the bridge over Pencil Pine Creek. With a name like the Enchanted Walk, I was hoping for a cosy forest with a thick canopy, but the trail starts off between the forest lining the creek and the exposed buttongrass. This meant the section would be dodging the rain, trying not to get my camera too wet, but also enjoying the flora on display through here, including Small-fruit Hakea and Wiry Bossiaea. The buttongrass plains to the left are cool, and the first of a few painted tunnels provide a different element but I was really looking forward to entering the forest and letting the whimsy of mossy trees, a flowing creek and many fungi delight me. Reaching the bridge over Pencil Pine Creek, I was not disappointed, with a beautiful scene upstream of a little set of rapids, moss covered boulders, and thick vegetation lining the creek.


I stayed here for a while, soaking in the scenery and trying to photograph all the little details that I enjoyed. Moving ahead, the second half of the walk is under the cover of the various tree types you find in the temperate rainforests of Tasmania, including one of my favourites, the Beech. The boardwalk meanders along the edge of the creek, initially hiding the views over the water as you pass different types of moss and lichen clinging to the overhanging branches. Arriving at another of the small tunnels, they seemed to be built for small children but why do they get to have all the fun? There is some nice artwork depicting the local flora and fauna, and I suggest you access your inner child and crawl through, like I did. As I continued, the views over Pencil Pine Creek opened up, and the gentle flow of the water, combined with the trees reaching out to form a canopy above. This was the most enjoyable part of the walk for me, and a few groups of people passed me here, as I just stood there breathing in the cold sub-alpine air with that familiar musky smell of damp forest. The end of the walk sees you abruptly enter the grounds surround the Cradle Mountain Lodge, taking you out of what you've just experienced. Following my instincts to reach the start again, I was soon on the bridge across Pencil Pine Creek, looking at the little waterfall in the distance. A nice way to finish this brief but enjoyable walk. 

Final Thoughts – Everyone needs a little bit of whimsy in their life, and the Enchanted Walk is an opportunity to get just that.

Being a short walk, it's one you can just slow down for and really take it all in. Want to spend a few minutes watching the gentle rapids of the creek? Do that. Intrigued by the web of lichen hanging from a tree? Take the time to observe all the intricate details.

Trail experiences don't need to be summit climbing epics (although you have the option here), sometimes it pays to let your inner child out and be amazed by a small patch of temperate rainforest in the middle of Tasmania.

Get out there and experience it!!!

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