Something you don’t want to miss in Tasmania is a blue sky Autumn walk in the mountains while the fagus is ablaze in its autumnal yellows and oranges, and if you are lucky enough, red (the red fagus leaves are in fact a prized shot of every photographer down here!). When you look at Cradle Mountain front on, the summit is hidden from view on the right; the “Cradle” that gives the mountain its name is the curve in the middle; and the pointy peak on the left is the “Little Horn”. Out the back of the Little Horn is an intricately beautiful area of fagus, small tarns and creeks, and ancient pencil pines. There is also a very sturdy and well maintained hut at Lake Rodway where you can base yourself for as long as you like – it is far less busy than the “main” huts along the Overland Track.
The way into the region is via either Hanson’s Peak or Hanson’s Lake, and then straight past a Ranger’s Hut, and the turn off to the Cradle Mountain face track. You soon enter a garden like area of ancient pines and fagus trees. On high mountain slopes fagus usually grows into a very low, prostrate shrub which hangs on tightly to the ground as it is assaulted by fierce winds and all the extremes of Western Tasmania’s weather. In this area, however, there are some relatively tall fagus trees, and one or two sections of the track take you right through them. The ancient, twisted pencil pines are a great sight, and with the tarns the landscape here has the air of a truly pristine and untouched environment. The first feature past the Little Horn is a small tarn called “The Artist’s Pool”.
The walk continues past a creek and towards Lake Rodway, with Cradle Mountain looking completely unrecognisable to your right as you walk. Flynns Tarn is a relatively large body of water in the area, and allows for nice reflections of Cradle Mountain and Little Horn (from an angle not usually seen on the postcards in the gift shops!)
After a couple of nights in the area we walked out via the Face Track, Lake Wilks and the Ballroom Rainforest. The fagus surrounding Lake Wilks was looking absolutely stunning, and it was great to take our time in the classic autumn weather. By the time we reached the boat shed & car park, cloud had blown in which meant that there were none of the classic “postcard” type shots to be had this time – but my trip to Cradle Mountain from a couple of years ago resulted in some pretty heroic reflections – including sunrise colours and snowy reflections – every photographers other prized shot!