You’ve waited for this. Finally, a chance to experience the grandeur of the glacial-carved alpine wilderness. Tasmania’s famous Cradle Mountain National Park lies firmly within the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
It is the landscape that draws us. Our guide will help you look at the scenery through different lenses. First, we peel back the years to acknowledge the Tasmanian aboriginal people of the Big River nation. They are the traditional custodians of this land. For thousands of years, well before the last glaciation period, they hunted in these sub-alpine valleys and travelled through them. You’ll also hear about those who came much later. For example, Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer and his Tasmanian wife Kate Cowle. They petitioned for the preservation of this place and first introduced tourism. Gustav gifted us with this famous quote:
“This must be a National Park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.”
Excitement builds with the thought of hitting the trails with crunching quartz underfoot. Which trail should you conquer? If you aren’t sure what do in Cradle Mountain, your Under Down Under guide will carefully explain the options. Now you can decide which one feels right for you. You chat to others in your group about which hike to do. Find a buddy and check your hiking daypack; sunhat or beanie, warm coat, rain jacket, lunch, water, and solid walking shoes – ready!
We begin together with a meander along the boardwalk track at Ronny Creek, eyes peeled, and fingers crossed. We look carefully for suspicious brown lumps in the buttongrass that might be wombats. Luckily, wombats are used to human visitors along the track and are frequently seen close by. Wallabies, echidna, and cunning currawongs are often encountered. If you aren’t paying attention, the intelligent black jays will steal your lunch.
Active hikers, bursting with enthusiasm, will want to continue past Lake Lilla toward Marion’s Lookout. Lungs will heave with the effort of ascending numerous rocky steps to the viewpoint at 1256m. It’s worth every step for those views, if granted, of the mountainous peaks and lakes below. As you enjoy your lunch and look out over the wilderness, spare a thought for those of us sitting behind a computer eating ours. Pat yourself on the back for living life to the full.
Equally satisfying is a more leisurely walk around Dove Lake – 6km of walking bliss, with diverse vegetation such as myrtle, sassafras, buttongrass and King Billy pine. Mountains and enchanting forest surround you, filling your senses with the smell of earth, making you feel small but connected with this ancient place. The undulating circuit trail, sometimes duckboard, sometimes gravel, keeps you safe and your impact on the environment to an absolute minimum. You realise it is a gift to be able to experience a place so pristine.
A very short walk from the new visitor centre is the most photographed boat shed in Tasmania, nestled on the shore of Dove Lake. It is here that the brave-hearted like to plunge into the chilled mountain waters of this glacial carved lake. Others simply relax and enjoy the view up to the mountain.
If you were denied the views of Cradle’s peaks – rejoice that there is another reason to return to Tasmania one day! Every trip to Cradle offers something delightful and different. Perhaps next time it will be a dusting of snow, or spray of wild flowers across the valley.
A visit around ANZAC Day in April is a photographer’s dream come true. This is when the mountains come alive at the turning of the ‘fagus’. Northofagus gunnii is a deciduous beech which is endemic to the highlands of Tasmania. In autumn Cradle’s flanks change from green to gold and orange, heralding the coming of winter.
Whenever you come, Cradle promises a powerful experience. Here you’ll feel alive and connected to nature, as well as grateful for Tasmania’s wild places.
All our small group tours that loop the island include a day exploring Cradle Mountain.