"Kilometers mean nothing in this country," scoffs Ben. "Everything depends on the weather, trail conditions, and if you're in a hurry." We aren't. As we start our walk, both Ben and Liv, his willowy guide-in-training, agree that this is a fantastic year for wildflowers. The flowers of Cradle, blooming in white, red, yellow and orange, are not like the delicate-stemmed poppies of coastal California. They're rough and shrubby with bristly stems and nasty thorns. The plants that took root in Tasmania, I note, are as tough as the people who settled it. We do follow some of the Overland Track, spending several days exploring the craggy range and its landmarks. We go off it to reach Hansons Peak, hauling ourselves up along a loose chain rope. Ben breaks open a box of Tim Tams, Australia's signature snack. The enormous chocolate-covered biscuits look like Kit Kats on steroids. Atop that barren aerie, they taste as good as a truffle. Near Cradle, mists swirl and patches of snow glint like gems against the dark stone. The ground is carpeted with white melaleuca flowers, and strands of waratah, dripping with sweet nectar, add splashes of red to the scene. The earth itself swirls in marble-like patterns, ancient geologies woven through the cliffs and river rocks.