Mount Kate Hut, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

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Back in 2005 I longed to shoot Cradle Mountain in winter. I hadn’t seen many shots of the mountain with a good dump of snow, so I planned a trip in August, hoping for some snow. Meeting a friend in Hobart the day before, he warned of some bad weather approaching. He suggested I get up there straight away, otherwise I might find the road closed. Leaving early, I made my way to Cradle only to find my fuel tank low. On my map there were plenty of towns along the way at which to fill up. Not at 5 am in the morning, though! Getting closer and closer to Cradle Mountain, and getting lower and lower on fuel, snow started falling. My trusty two-wheel drive was not made for snowy roads. Climbing the steep road with limited fuel, I crawled into Moina and found the road to Cradle closed. Bugger! Cars were waiting to get through. Thankfully, there was fuel available but they were accepting only cash, of which I had just $20. So I ‘filled up’ and waited. After an hour or so, the snowplough arrived but they were allowing only four-wheel drives through. It was time for me to network. I spoke to a guy with a spare seat. He explained that he was working on the refurbishment of rooms at the Cradle Mountain Lodge - perfect. After describing my predicament, he offered me a lift in exchange for a photographic print. Deal!

Arriving at the visitors centre with the snow still bucketing down, I ventured out and set up my camera – at least I thought I did. As I clipped my specialised panoramic camera onto the tripod, I turned to get some more gear out of my camera bag. Turning around, I was stunned to see my camera on the ground. Whilst the camera was okay, thankfully, my $450 centre spot filter, critical for correct exposures, was smashed. This dampened my spirits completely. I have a habit of breaking things right at the start of a major trip!

With the sun now shining and the roads drying out, I thought this was my chance to get my car into the park. This would provide an easier way to get around rather than walking everywhere (it was eight kilometres from my accommodation to the mountain). I returned to the visitors centre, looking for my next lift. I recognised an athlete I photographed from my sports photography days many years prior. I introduced myself, made it sound like he should know me, and asked what he was doing here. Representing a national outdoor company, he was meeting with the parks people to do business before driving back to Hobart. Perfect! I had a lift but he said I may have to wait several hours till his meeting finished. Fine by me. I saw this as my only chance to get my car, so I waited. He kindly drove me back to my car, by which stage the roads were open to two-wheel drives.

However, it was pointless getting my car in the end. It bucketed down with snow for the next two days and the road to the mountain remained closed. Subsequently, I was forced to rise at 4 am and walk eight kilometres into the national park for my ‘sunrise’ shot, only to find it clouded in and blowing a gale. I spent the next three days walking back and forth, hoping for my spectacular snow image, but to no avail. The wind and heavy cloud prevented me from seeing any part of the mountain and, despite my best efforts, my hopes were dashed.

However, there’s always a silver lining. I was able to get this stunning shot of Mount Kate Hut along the road to the mountain early one morning without a soul in sight. It was blissful standing in the deep snow, capturing an image not seen by many photographers.

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SIZE GUIDE (best viewed on a desktop computer)

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