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Rainforest Walk Cradle Mountain

Rainforest Walk

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Directions - The Rainforest 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 Rainforest Walk starts at the rear of the Cradle Mountain Interpretive Centre, reached by taking one of the frequent shuttle buses from the Visitor Centre (ticket required).

The Walk - After summiting Cradle Mountain in the morning and getting soggy weather on the descent, my plans to do the Dove Lake Circuit had to be scrapped. Looking at what else I could do in the area, thankfully there are a number of options at Cradle Mountain, with the Enchanted Walk and Rainforest Walk being two short trails located at the Interpretive Centre. Having walked the Enchanted Walk, I had another look around the Interpretive Centre and all the displays there, before exiting through one of the rear doors to start the Rainforest Walk. 

I love a good short walk, and getting to explore more of the Cradle Mountain area was a nice way to finish what had been a fun but cold day. Taking you mostly on boardwalk, this is a great way for everyone to experience the temperate rainforest found in the sub-alpine region of the Central Highlands of Tasmania. With the weather keeping most people away, and Dove Lake seemingly being the preferred destination for the tourists, I had the entire walk to myself. Meandering along the boardwalk, the rainforest starts almost immediately, with moss and lichen covered trees becoming the main attraction. Being a cold day, the smells of the damp rainforest added to the experience, and it was relaxing to amble along and breath it all in. There are some thick and gnarly trees right along the boardwalk, that twists and bends as it takes you through the forest. Recent storm activity must have brought down a few sizeable trees or branches, with space in the canopy providing more light in certain spots, along with the obvious fallen limbs. Leaving the raised boardwalk, the barriers disappear as you reach flatter ground, and the walk feels more open as you continue along.

Reaching an area of exposed grassland, this would make for an excellent wombat viewing spot in the afternoon but I was not lucky enough to spot one of these fluffy bulldozers today. Continuing along the boardwalk, the presence of a metal fence on one side keeps visitors from falling down the cliff and into Pencil Pine Creek. Further along you reach the raised lookout that provides excellent views looking down to Pencil Pine Falls, along with a wooden bench for taking a rest. Having walked upstream of this point of Pencil Pine Creek on the Enchanted Walk, I would not have expected a waterfall of this size based on what I saw. Still quite small by Tasmanian standards, it's a lovely spot to stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of the flowing water as it cascades over the rock face. Leaving the falls, you climb slightly to finish the walk through thick vegetation that creates a magical tunnel like effect, eventually arriving at the end of the walk (which is not at the point where you started). Walking back around to the front of the Interpretive Centre, I lined up to catch the bus, happy with my day at Cradle Mountain. 

Final Thoughts – I've said this before on other short walks, not everything needs to be a 15km epic hike through amazing scenery.

Sometimes all it takes for a good experience is a gentle meander through some quality forest, slowing down to enjoy what is in front of you and not worrying about anything else.

The Rainforest Walk is a good example of that, lovely forest, plenty of flora to see, and a small waterfall as an added bonus.

Get out there and experience it!!!

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