Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Great Tasmanian Roadtrip - Cradle Mountain to Mole Creek

From Melbourne, a road trip to Tasmania is easy, accessible by an enjoyable overnight cruise on the Spirit of Tasmania. I'd been to Tasmania years ago when I joined a musician friend on his tour of the island. We had driven all around and stopped off in cute little pubs and villages, discovered local musicians with hugely unique styles (try Halfway to Forth), and eaten probably more than our fair share of fresh, local food. I'd always intended on returning and visiting some of the places I had missed last time around. 

In the past year I've been reading a lot about the Overland Track, the five day long hike from Lake St Clair, through the Western Wilderness, and finishing up at the breathtaking Cradle Mountain. Named as one of the top hikes in the world, much of the track is a boardwalk over streams, beaches, mountains, plains and through rainforests.

While I couldn't get enough time to do the whole of the Overland Track, I booked three days at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village in a gorgeous spa cabin and did many short walks and day hikes around the Cradle Mountain area. The Dove Lake hike was my definite favorite, an easy half day hike that takes you around the lake at the base of Cradle Mountain. Through temperate rainforest, across sparse plains, rocky beaches and up onto Glacier Rock, it is an easy ten minute drive from the information centre where you can purchase park passes and access the complimentary shuttle bus.

For a lunch spot with unparalleled views, make your way up onto Glacier Rock, a short way from the entrance to the Dove Lake Circuit. We brought some salmon rillettes from 41º South Salmon Farm, locally made Port & Tarragon mustard from Country Larder, market fresh pumpkin, garlic, spinach, green beans and dutch cream potatoes, and wrapped it all in fresh local wholemeal bread.

It is so easy to find exceptional food and produce in Tasmania. Every supermarket stocks locally made items and produce from local farmers, or it is just as easy to turn off the highway and buy it direct from the farmers themselves. Culinary road trips around Tasmania are easy as pie: just search for farm gates Tasmania online and you will find a wealth of brochures, links, websites and tools to help you plan your foodie trip.

We finished our long day of walking in the Cradle Mountain Lodge Tavern, popping in to try some of their house made cakes for afternoon tea. We went for the beautifully moist gingerbread, and their scones, served with mixed berry jam and double cream. Servings were quite large, and at $10 with a tea, coffee or hot chocolate it is quite good value for a tourist area.

Just over an hour from Cradle Mountain you will find yourself in sleepy Mole Creek. Home to the Mole Creek Karst National Park, it is worth stopping for the night to do the underground caves and glow worms tour. Awe-inspiring and humbling, the caves are beautiful and timeless, and the tours are perfect. Step into a dark cave with low headroom, and through to a dimly lit platform. In steps your tour guide, who flips a switch to hundreds of strategically placed lanterns, placed in and around stalactites, stalagmites, crystals and massive rock formations. Tours are priced at $19 for adults, with discounts for children and pensioners.

The gorgeous Mole Creek Guest House should be your top choice for accommodation. The B&B is run by a lovely couple who are both excellent cooks. The house was built in the 1890's - in stunning condition and meticulously restored, the rooms are quaint, the family room warm and cosy when the fire is lit, and the gardens green and lush (if you are lucky you might spot their resident platypus in the stream). For breakfast, house made granola, fruit compote and Greek yoghurt are laid out in the dining room, along with fruit juice. You can then select one of their delicious hot cooked breakfasts along with teas and coffees, all included in your room rate. They serve Petuna smoked salmon, a definite must-try if you haven't had the pleasure.

Mole Creek Guest House Tasmania
Mole Creek Guest House 

Next post we head towards Deloraine and Launceston in the mid-North, stopping at Honey farms, Raspberry farms, cheesemakers, the oldest working flour windmill in the Southern Hemisphere and a salmon farm that also grows ginseng!

Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village
Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain Lodge Tavern
4038 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

41º South Aquaculture
323 Montana Rd, Deloraine, Tasmania

Country Larder Preserves and Fine Foods
12 Mertonvale Circuit, Kingston, Hobart, Tasmania

Mole Creek Guest House and Cafe
100 Pioneer Drive, Mole Creek, Tasmania

Petuna Seafoods
134 Tarleton st Devonport, Tasmania