Australia // Spending a day at Tasmania’s iconic Cradle Mountain
Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain is not just any mountain in Australia’s southernmost state. It is THE mountain that characterizes this iconic island. That’s right, no visit to Tassie is complete until you have explored the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park!
There’s only a limited amount of vehicles allowed in the park, so unless you come in early you’ll have to hop on one of the shuttle buses that run every 10 mins. As you drive through the Cradle Valley it won’t take long before you can spot the jagged peaks of Tasmania’s most recognizable mountain. The drive towards the foot of the mountain is absolutely stunning, through a surreal mix of alpine vegetation, glacial lakes and ancient rainforests.
Five big highlights of the National Park:
1. Dove Lake
This is what it’s all about! Hiking around this beautiful mirror lake against the Cradle Mountain backdrop is simply an unforgettable experience. The boardwalk runs all the way around the lakeshore and is super easy to follow. Take at least 2 hours to complete the trip.
2. Waldheim Chalet
History buffs will definitely enjoy a visit to this amazing wooden chalet where the godfather of the Cradle Mountain National Park (aka Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian immigrant) used to live. It’s hard to imagine how he could survive the bitter cold and especially the loneliness during the winter months but he somehow managed to do it – props!
Don’t forget to complete Weindorfers Forest Walk when you’re here by the way. This short but wonderful path takes you through a fairytale forest where you’d expect to see Snow White and her seven dwarves marching by any second.
3. Enchanted Walk
A bit similar to Weindorfers Forest Walk (see 2.) but nevertheless worth a visit! A boardwalk takes you through another magical forest. The walk takes 20 minutes but it took us a lot longer as there seems to be a picture opportunity around every corner!
4. Cradle Valley Boardwalk
This beautiful trail takes you all the way from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Information Center to the start of the Dove Lake Circuit. The total length is 8.5 km (5.3 miles) but you can easily complete part of the trail and hop on the shuttle bus at one of the stops to save time when visiting the park.
5. The Overland Track
Hiking fanatics… have we got the hike for you! One of Australia’s most famous hiking trails, the Overland Track consists of 65 km (40 miles), passing beautiful creeks, lakes, forests and mountains, all the way through the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Consider about 5 days to complete this hike. Huts and tent platforms are provided along the way. More than 8000 hikers complete the journey every year!
Accommodation near the National Park:
There are a couple of accommodation options (hotel & caravan park) near the park’s entrance, but we decided to spend the night in the middle of the Tasmanian desert. Although temperatures can drop easily below zero, it is definitely worth it! Millions of stars, and even a little bit of glow from a bushfire nearby made this an unforgettable night.
To get there, just head back to Cradle Mountain Road and turn right. The “camping spot” (no facilities) is about 2 km (1.25 miles) on the right hand side.
The next day we decided to spend a few days on the lovely Mole Creek Caravan Park, which we can highly recommend! Besides the comfortable amenities (and free WiFi – so perfect for travel bloggers like us :) ) this is also an excellent place to spot platypus.
These peculiar animals (one of the only two egg-laying mammals in the world, the other one being the echidna) are usually pretty shy but if you’re hanging around the creek during dusk or dawn you just might get lucky!
- Early birds are granted access to the park in their own vehicle – and we must admit it is pretty awesome to drive the narrow winding roads on your own :-)
- Bushfires occur frequently in the area. Make sure you check on the latest updates in Tassie’s Tourist Information centers or the Tasmania Fire Service website (www.fire.tas.gov.au)
- Weather conditions can change rapidly. One minute you can be hopping joyfully in the sun, the next minute you’re seeking shelter because a blizzard just came to say hello.
Hope you get to visit this amazing National Park soon!