Located in St Clair National Park and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Cradle Mountain is a spectacular sight at any time of year. Its dolerite peaks stand proudly above the glacial lakes, grassy plains and the dense forests that conceal its abundant and unique wildlife from the elements. Only 2.5hrs away from Launceston, 2 hours from Queenstown and 1 hr from Sheffield, the love affair with Cradle Mountain is yet to wane as a quarter of all visitors to Tasmania visit this majestic beauty. Now it’s your turn!
Cradle Mountain offers a number of short walks.
The Dove Lake walk is boardwalked much of the way and generally well maintained. Highlights during the 5.7km walk include Glacier Rock, the Ballroom Forest and the much photographed Boatshed. It’s a lovely 2 hour walk that requires no bushwalking experience with just a few stairs and gentle hills.
For quick walks, look at the Enchanted walk. This 20-minute circuit is suitable for all age groups and winds through a magical rainforest filled with wombat burrows.
Longer walks (2-3 hours) include Crater Falls, Crater Lake and Wombat Pool. Ranger guided walks are also available.
For those wanting full day walks, go for the ‘walk’ to the Cradle Mountain summit. A grade 5 walk, it’s quite a challenge requiring fitness, experience and knowledge of first aid as the track is quite steep, and is rough and unmarked in parts. But the view is spectacular. This 6 to 8-hour walk is part of the larger Overland Track, a 65km (40 mile) walk which navigates the heart of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. With a variety of side trips (Mt Odessa, Tasmania’s highest peak and Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake) you will see the most exciting landscapes of the magnificent Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Download the 60 Great Short Walks app onto your Iphone/Ipad for first-hand stories from walkers, photographs and safety tips. There are also video/audio podcasts covering bushwalking basics, the overland track and tasmanian water life.
April is considered the best time of year to undertake any of the tracks due the remarkable changing colours of the landscape. The winter months (June, July and August) can see snow on the tracks and caution is advised. Keep an eye on the weather before you venture out and check the Cradle Mountain Webcam. In Summer the daily temperature ranges from 6 oC to 18oC while Winter temperatures vary between 1 oC and 7oC. At night temperatures can fall below zero.
As this is a national park the facilities are somewhat limited. All toilets are wheelchair accessible and are located at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and Dove Lake. There is no reliable mobile phone reception within the park but a public phone can be found at the Visitors Centre. Limited grocery items can be purchased from the Cradle Mountain Tourist Park and Campground with the closest supermarket at Sheffield.
Waldheim Chalets offer the only accommodation within the national park. There are 8 affordable cabins with heating, cooking facilities and communal bathroom. Alternatively, there are a few accommodation options close by – Cradle Mountain Lodge, Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, Cradle Mountain Chateau and Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cabins.
People are encouraged to leave their cars at the transit terminal and catch the shuttle bus. Buses (28 seater) and campervans over 5 metres must be left at the visitors centre. A fee applies for entry to all Tasmanian National Parks and any vehicles parked inside the park without proper authority will be fined. If you plan on visiting a few parks on your stay, the holiday pass is recommended. To avoid disappointment, be sure to check the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife website for the latest information on track closures.
Be sure to check out some of the surrounding towns for interesting activites. Five hundred metres from Cradle Mountain Lodge is Devils@Cradle; a world class wildlife conservation sanctuary which focuses on the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern and Spotted-Tail Quoll. Other activites and towns close by include:
- Tasmazia & The Village of Lower Crackpot – with 8 mazes, a model village built to 1/5 scale, The Pancake Parlour and a Lavender Farm. It’s a-maze-ing family fun.
- Sheffield ‘Town Of Murals’ – and the annual International Muralfest
- Railton – outdoor art gallery and topiary (trees and shrubs pruned into shapes and silhouettes)
- Marakoopa Cave – Mole Creek Karst National Park
The most popular time to tour Tasmania in a campervan or motorhome is summer, especially December, January and February, so make sure you book well in advance if you are planning your self-drive holiday during the summer holiday period.