The Kaleberg Journal - October 2014

10/14 - Welcome Home

We landed bright and early in Vancouver, cleared immigration, cleared customs and took a taxi to Avitat which was full of Canadian soldiers heading off to survival training somewhere in the wilds of the north. They all looked pretty hale and hearty, so most of them were probably going to make it.

Our plane arrived to pick us up, and all through the journey our pilot kept calling into the Fairchild airport weather channel. The clouds blanketed the lower Olympics towards the sea, but we were still clear for VFR and landing. That photo is of our landing as we raced for the runway even as the fog raced from the sea to cover it.

We made it, but only by minutes. We cleared US customs and were waiting for our taxi home when our pilot announced that the airport had closed. Wow, that was exciting. We were relieved. The customs guy was probably relieved too. Our alternate was Sequim, and that meant a half hour drive to handle our paperwork. Hey, we're home.

We can still see the runway, but that runway blocking fog is moving fast.

Keywords: australia

10/13 - Back to Sydney

If you look at the picture of that bridge on the right and are so glad we're back in New York City because that's the Hell's Gate railroad bridge, you an incurable New Yorker. There is nothing we can do for you.

We're back in Sydney for a day, back in the arms of the ever nurturing Sydney Park Hyatt. Their concierge pulled off a miracle and got us into dinner at Quay, one of the great restaurants in Sydney. This is where we first had fresh pork belly, the dish that, along with various technological changes, totally eliminated pork belly futures. Once we discovered that one could cook pork belly the way they did at Quay, there was no future. Pork bellies were eaten now. We also had green lip abalone, mud crab congee, hog jowls, seafood in XO sauce, lamb, smoked oysters and slow cooked duck. Then came the piece de resistance, the snow egg. This was one of those molecular gastronomy things with a sugar crusted meringue egg formed around house made strawberry ice cream served on a bed of mulberries. Well, they may have fooled some, but we knew what we were eating. We were eating pavlova.

Pavlova was once the national dish of Australia, but it became a cliche. For a while it was hard to find a dessert menu without pavlova, but now it is hard to find one with it. Well, Quay came through, even if they had to give it another name. Thank you, Quay.

Our next day we spent exploring the botanical gardens. Australia was full of plants unfamiliar to the colonizing Europeans, so there is a botanical garden in every major city, a collection established as Europeans tried to figure out which plant was what. In Sydney it was even more fun, because the place was full of school kids learning a bit about history, so this meant old fashioned mob caps for the girls and old fashioned straw hats or tricorns for the boys. Australia has some pretty nasty history, so we hope they were being told some of the good stuff too.

Then we had our final dinner at Rockpool, another one of our favorites. We booked the regular Rockpool restaurant, but it had been turned into a temple of fine food and dining. We couldn't face it. We had an early flight home. Instead we went to their bar and grill where we had a crudo of mullet, tuna and ocean trout followed by the Kaleberg version of surf and turf. That's a huge grilled rock lobster with a side order of wagyu skirt steak and some killer wagyu beef fat fried potatoes. We're hoping our flight to Vancouver can handle the excess weight tomorrow.

It's not the Hells Gate Bridge in New York City. Hells Gate is a real place between Manhattan and Queens. This bridge is in Sydney.

Sydney from its harbor walk

The iconic opera house, once a symbol of architectural over-reach, now a beloved icon.

From the botanical garden

Australian Naval Power, though there was probably more in Warrnambool on the Great Ocean Road.

We're not sure what this was, but it's like the Belvedere in Manhattan.

One of the great old trees in the botanical garden

Keywords: australia

10/12 - Return to Dove Lake

For our last hike at Cradle Mountain we decided to return to Dove Lake and redo the prettiest part of the walk, the east coast with its lush rainforest and boardwalks right by the lakeside. It was a misty day, but despite this, we had a nice goodbye peek at Cradle Mountain. We also had a beautiful, mysterious walk.

Needless to say, we were exhausted at the end. We chowed down on the excellent cheeseburgers at the lodge. Wow, does Australia have great beef as well as great lamb. (Did we mention the seafood anywhere?) Then we collapsed before dinner. We were that tired.

Mysterious mountains

Gray skies and green walkways

The lake and the mists

More mysterious forest

Mountains and clouds

We love the way all sorts of stuff grows out of the rock here.

A last look at the lake

Keywords: australia

10/11 - Around Dove Lake

In the morning, it was raining at Cradle Mountain Lodge, but we decided to get going and hike anyway. We took the shuttle bus from the park entry station down to Dove Lake where it was wet and just barely drizzling and began our walk. The lake was gray, misty and glorious. We followed the trail past the Glacier Point lookout and then along the eastern shore of the lake.

The trail turned into a boardwalk built along the lake shore. Across the lake we could see several great waterfalls, but all along we surrounded by exotic vegetation. We could watch the mist rising and reforming. The drizzle stopped and restarted, but we had made a trip to REI right before our trip, so we were prepared.

The trail moved a bit inland and continued. We passed through the impossibly lush Ballroom Forest which lies at the foot of one of the large waterfalls we had seen from across the lake. We headed up and north paralleling the western shore. Looking back to the south we had glimpses of elusive Cradle Mountain itself. It is usually hidden in the mists, but as we watched the winds blew and mists swirled and thinned enough for us to get a glimpse of this icon of the park.

Soon we were at the boathouse. We carefully avoided taking any pictures. Our trip was full of enough cliches as it was.

A view of the lake

Another view with Cradle Mountain hidden in the mist

The boardwalk along the lake and some fascinating plants

A wooden staircase covered with chicken wire for better traction and to deter snakes

More exotic plants

One of the great waterfalls

An actual glimpse of Cradle Mountain

More waterfalls

Yet another waterfall

A better glimpse of Cradle Mountain

Goodbye to the lake

Keywords: australia

10/10 - Crater Lake and the Assault on Marion's Lookout

We took the shuttle bus to a different starting point this time. We really like the shuttle bus system here. The road is narrow and dangerous, but the shuttle drivers are careful and experienced. As a bonus, you can start your hike at one stop and grab the shuttle back at another. It's a very sensible system.

We started at the Ronny Creek trailhead and made our way across the bogs and button grass to Crater Falls, a spectacular set of falls en route to Crater Lake. The bogs were green under the gray sky and as mysterious as the moors of England. In contrast, the Crater Falls section of the trail was green and sprightly, all boardwalk and wooden stairs as one followed the lively stream.

CraterLake itself was brooding. Here too was a boathouse and a bit further on a decision point. We considered heading down to Dove Lake where we had hiked the previous day. Instead, we tried to climb to Marion's Lookout. The trail started smoothly, then turned to steps. We were quite high up, probably not all that far from the peak, when it turned into a ladder and above the ladder a sort of vertical rocky way with a few chains for guidance. We were licked, and we knew it. We turned around and head back to Crater Lake.

Crater Falls

The bogs and the mountains

Bog land and bunch grass

One of the Crater Falls

Crater Lake in the mist

Bright flowers on a gray day

The view from our turning point

What we really didn't want to climb

Some trail

Some growth

Back to the bogs

Keywords: australia

10/10 - Cradle Mountain Views

Before coming to Cradle Mountain we had spoken with a number of people who had visited and on one point they were in agreement: we were unlike to get so much as a glimpse of Cradle Mountain proper. Now we did get to see a bit of it through the mist on our first full day hiking around Dove Lake, but we got better views on our second day.

The first glimpse was from the shuttle bus. An earlier driver had teased us holding up the pretty park brochure with its picture of the mountain and telling us that this is what we might be seeing except that the weather would make it extremely unlikely. Well, on our very second day, there it was, Cradle Mountain, looming through the mists.

That evening we set out for another view, walking straight from the lodge to the Dove Lake Trail. We crossed bogs then hill and dale. As we ascended in the late afternoon light we had yet another view of Cradle Mountain. We took lots of pictures so we'd have proof. It was a beautiful hike in any event, but spotting the elusive mountain was a real treat.

A wallabee on our front steps - Can you see the joey in her pouch?

Cradle Mountain from the shuttle bus - not quite as pretty as in the brochure

Bunch grass bog lands

Another view of Cradle Mountain - hah!

A more distant view

A view from the trail

A darker view of the mountain

A rock face to the east

The trail itself

Another bit of scenery

A wombat on our walk home

Keywords: australia

10/09 - Welcome to Cradle Mountain

It was a four hour drive from Freycinet to Cradle Mountain, half spent leaving the east and half spent driving into the mountains of the west. Not only was the mountain road twisty, but it was menaced by huge maintenance vehicles shoving around small mountains of mud and road debris. On the other hand, as soon as we saw our first wombat, we knew that the drive had been worth it.

We stayed at Cradle Mountain Lodge which is surrounded by trails. Our King Billy room, named for an aborigine leader, was surrounded by wallabees. There was one living below our deck and one outside our front door. There were wombats intensely cropping the grass looking like miniature hairy hippos. There were also crow like birds, currawongs, and one came to check out the new tenants.

The lodge was surrounded by hiking trails, so we took an evening walk down to see a few of the wonderful waterfalls. The air was cool and moist. The trail was easy to follow with good steps and lots of boardwalks through the marshy areas. The waterfalls were in full spate and spectacular. We didn't go very far, but we did manage to see Pencil Pine Falls, Knyvet Falls and a lot of rapid white water.

A more peaceful part of the drive as we approached the mountains

A wombat doing what wombats do

Our deck wallabee

Our porch wallabee - Every room has at least two.

A currawong

The trail along the river

A view from the trail

Knyvet Falls - The brownish water is full of leaves, dirt and tannins

Another view from the trail

One of the waterfalls

Another waterfall - There were so many of them.

Keywords: australia

10/09 - King Billy and Enchanted Walks

King Billy was an aboriginal elder in this area back in the 19th century. The large pine trees they discovered here were named for him. The King Billy trail starts right at the lodge and passes through some amazing forest with trees that would be at home in the Hoh Rain Forest or the redwood forests of California. If nothing else, this part of Tasmania has lots of water, and that's something big trees need.

There's also a shorter trail along one of the streams here. It's perfect for an after dinner walk. It runs up the stream a ways to a bridge, then back along the other side. It features a waterfall, some rapids and some marvelous scenery.


The falls

More greenscape - It reminded us of home.

A wombat, not eating if you can believe that

This is a rufous wallabee, so it's extra large.

More greenscape

Note the meter wide trail to get a sense of the size of these trees.

A fallen giant

A field of button grass

Keywords: australia

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