Another early start in order to watch the sail in (and talk to another special friend)! I stayed in the Crows Nest as I watched our approach, as it was incredibly windy and cold outside! I watched the hills of Tasmania appear in the rising sun, and then the port and town of Burnie come into view. We had breakfast and then went to meet for our tour - Cradle Mountain.
This was a full day tour, and started with a drive along the coast, following the transportation railroad and small rocky beaches on one side, and the range of factories and warehouses on the other side. Our guide was very informative, and gave us lots of maps and fact sheets about Tasmania. He showed us the small fence along the coastline which is called the penguin fence, as it was built to stop the local penguins getting killed on the roads :-) We passed many signs for the nearby town which is actually named 'Penguin', which apparently has the world's largest penguin statue on the beach, and penguin shaped rubbish bins! Sadly our tour did not go there :-( Our first stop was the town of Sheffield, which was full of quaint colonial houses, and enormous painted murals all around the town (over 80 in total!), showing Tasmanian wildlife, culture, and historical events. We had a chance to wander round the town and grab a bite to eat, as well as do a bit of shopping. There was a wonderful shop called The World of Marbles, where you could watch the artists at work creating beautiful glass ornaments, jewellery, and toy marbles with amazing colours and patterns. We then took a scenic drive past the spectacular Mount Roland, and over the deep Lake Cethana, to the restaurant where we would be having lunch, with beautiful views over the forests of eucalyptus trees all around. Lunch was yummy, especially the chocolate cakes with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries! And I tried (and LIKED!) the Malaysian Curried Pumpkin Soup!!!!
After lunch we boarded smaller buses, and had a local guide to take us into the Cradle Mountain National Park, a World Heritage area. We drove through the cool rain forest, looking at the wide variety of trees and shrubs which grow here. The roads were very narrow and windy, and the drivers had to keep in close radio communication so they didn't crash! Eventually we came to the main attraction of the tour - Dove Lake, with views of Cradle Mountain in the background. That is, we WOULD have had views of Cradle Mountain in the background, if it hadn't been for the low cloud and drizzly rain which had recently started! The lake was beautiful, and it would have been nice to have spent longer here to walk part of the 6km path which encircles it, or the trail to the beautiful nearby Crater Lake (formed during the previous ice age) - we'll just have to come back! After some time for photos, we headed further into the forest to visit the Waldheim Chalet. This is the former home of Gustav Weindorfer, the Austrian man who worked tirelessly during his life to help ensure the creation of the national park at Cradle Mountain, and then built this chalet to welcome guests and tourists into the area. We walked around the pretty wooden chalet, saw Gustav's grave, and admired the scenery. The most exciting part however was the mother and child wallabies who were relaxing in the gardens, not at all phased by all the tourists excitedly taking their photos!
Our guide took us from here back to the Ranger Station where we had a look at the displays about the area, including the 3D model which shows what Cradle Mountain should have looked like! We then went for a short walk through the rainforest to view some pretty waterfalls, and we also stumbled upon another couple of wallabies, and also a spiky echidna in the grass nearby! We then walked back to the coach, getting on board just before the heavens opened and the rain came down in buckets! Luckily this was the end of the tour, and we set off back to the ship. We had a brief drive through the streets of Burnie on the way back, including a short stop at a lookout point, and we were pleased to see that we didn't miss much by spending the day away from the town!
Back on board I was reluctant to change out of the warm winter clothes and thick boots I had been wearing for the day, so for the first time didn't dress up for dinner - shock horror! Instead I ate and then watched two shows with my long trousers and two jumpers on! Quite a change from the sunshine in Melbourne the day before! The first show I watched (which JL refused to come to) was the crew talent show. It was great fun! Lots of Elvis and Queen songs, a couple of guitar players, and the highlight by far - one of the male pool attendants singing "It's Raining Men", dressed in a gold sequin dress, heels, and full make up! He was fantastic!! From there we went to see the comedian Micky Zany perform his second show which was very good. And then to bed, as the ship started creaking and rocking around in the storm that the captain warned us we would be sailing through overnight...