Cradle Mountain in Tasmania is one of the most sublime landscapes in Australia. It came on my radar about two years ago after watching an episode of please like me (a terrific Australian show, please go watch) where one of the episodes was set. Since then I had been dreaming of going to explore it, mostly because of its unique mountain range and the amount of wildlife present. Cradle Mountain and as an extension Cradle Mountain/ St Clair national park is famously known for the Overland track. The Overland Track is said to be one the best walks in all of Australia and it roughly takes a week to do. If you are like me and wanted to get a feel of the amazing landscape but neither have the time nor fitness level to do the walk (the latter being me) I have come up with the best way to utilise and see the most out of Cradle Mountain.
Firstly if you are short for time like we were, I would recommend driving in the night before. We drove all the way from Hobart taking the scenic route which took about 5 hours (the better roads will get you there just under 4). By sleeping in one of the hotels the night before it means you can start early the next day and do as much as possible.
Second thing to note is there is limited parking in this section of the national park. When you buy entry you also get a ticket for free rides of a shuttle bus service in the park which is amazing. It stops in multiple sections and starts it’s service just after 9 and ends around 4:30, coming roughly every 20 minutes. The times slightly change depending the season and the day but that is roughly the time range you have to explore.
My walk option!
My plan below includes many circuits that I believe will give you the most variance in your day. Roughy all together it should take 4-6 hours depending on how many stops you make to take in the amazing scenery.
Start out at Dove lake
Get the shuttle straight to Dove Lake (probably the most common viewpoint) where you will be amazed by the stunning beauty of the lake and mountain face. If you are lucky and the weather is in your favour the lake will mirror its whole surroundings, completely magical!
Then continue on the Dove Lake circuit to the right, this way you will go pass the famous boat shed and you can tick that off your list.
Back up the track a little until you see a sign pointing to Marions look out. Follow this track. On your way to the top you will pass three major lakes, they include lake Lilla, wombat pool and crater lake. All these lakes are surrounded by the most beautiful landscape and on a cold day they freeze over. The walk to the top will roughly take two hours, a little more for me because I stopped over 10,000 times for photos. The last part of the walk is the most challenging but also the most fun. The track disappears leaving you to use both hands as you climb up a rock face with only the help of a couple metal bars here and there.
The climb is definitely worth it! At the top, you once again see Cradle Mountain in all its glory and get a great aerial view of Dove Lake.
Go back down via Crater Lake
On the way down instead of going back the way you came follow the side of Crater Lake. Doing this takes you on a totally different route with more new places to see. At the end of Crater Lake there is another lesser known hut before the lake turns into Crater Falls. Crater Falls is situated in thick bush that is full of big trees covered in moss which kind of makes you feel like you are red riding hood in an enchanted forest. At the end of the forest you will make it out onto the famous Cradle Mountain boardwalk.
Following the boardwalk will take you into the middle of Ronny Creek plains, and this my friends is when you need to keep your eyes peeled. All your very own wombat friends are living a very happy life here munching on dry glass and waddling along. Exploring the plains is the best place to see some wildlife, we saw 18 wombats, some sitting only half a metre away from us. It’s such an amazing experience to see furry friends in their natural habitat.
At the end of the plains will put you back on the road where you can catch the shuttle back to the visitor centre. on the outskirts of the park there a two more short walks: King Billy and the Enchanted walk which are very quick and worth doing if you have extra time.
Pro’s of Cradle Mountain
- Beautiful landscape that changes every 200 metres
- Lots of animals around to see including Wallabies and Wombats and at night Tasmanian Devils
- Mirror lakes everywhere (so beautiful!)
- Great shuttle service that helps you get around
- Lots of information at the information centre, everyone is ready to help
Con’s of Cradle Mountain (in other words things to prepare for)
- If you are staying the night bring food, the restaurant are overpriced and so is the supply shop, which only holds minimal supples
- Roads can be dangerous getting there, they are very windy and there is a lot of road kill. If driving at night take your time, we had many Wallabies get scared from our head lights and jump onto the road
- Weather can be pretty unpredictable you just have to hope for the best so prepare for sun, cold, snow and wet weather
- Paths around the National park freeze over, Watch where you walk!
Cradle Mountain may be one of the pretty landscapes in Australia with tourism starting in the area as early as 1890’s! So it definitely should be on the top of your list. For more Information: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=3297