Lens & Muse
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
If you mention Tasmania, chances are you’ll inevitably end up having a conversation around the jewel in the Apple Isles crown – Cradle Mountain.
Located in the Central Highlands, the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is the stuff an adventurers dreams are made of. With alpine heathlands, rugged mountainous peaks, waterfalls, lakes, ethereal forests, an abundance of wildlife, walking trails to suit every level of fitness and accomodation to suit all budgets, there is something for everyone here.
There is no “best time” to visit Cradle Mountain – it’s spectacular to visit no matter what season you’re visiting. Having been lucky enough to experience the sheer beauty of this place on a couple of occasions, Autumn and Winter were my favourite times to visit. In Autumn the turning of the fagus is quite the sight to behold as the landscape is dotted with the autumnal burnt orange and yellow leaves of this deciduous beech native only to Tasmania. In winter, snow falls and blankets the vast mountainous peaks and turns this expansive and rugged wilderness into a winter wonderland.
It’s not uncommon to spot wildlife here. Wombats are the main attraction here. These solid balls of fluff wander along the duckboard walkways and are often unfazed by having to share the path with humans. Pademelons and wallabies generally come out around dawn and dusk. Copperhead & Tiger snakes are abundant in the warmer months and so, care should always be taken when walking. Tasmanian devils, quolls, echidnas and an array of birdlife also call Cradle Mountain home.
Waterfall lovers will not be disappointed. There are numerous waterfalls to hike to on your way to Cradle Mountain. Knyvet Falls and Pencil Pine Falls are located within a 2km radius of most accomodation which is made easily accessible due to the well maintained duck board paths. Regular snow fall ensures the waterfalls are full and flowing most of the year.
Hikers and those with adventurous minds will find a walk to suit any fitness level. From the Overland Track hike which can take up to seven days to complete, to the Dove Lake Circuit which takes 2 hours to complete there is quite literally something for everyone. My recommendation would be to do the what I’ve affectionately come to call the Kitchen Hut adventure circuit. Take a right at the start of the Dove Lake track and follow the signs to Marion’s Peak Lookout. After a very steep climb to the top with a bit of rock scrambling you will be presented with spectacular views of Crater Lake, Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain. Follow the signs to Cradle Mountain to get to the Kitchen Hut. The walk from Marion’s Peak to the Kitchen Hut is simply breathtaking. Beautiful tarns are dotted throughout the landscape, and mountain peaks and vast alpine shrubland and heathland make for some stunning photographic opportunities. Arriving at the Kitchen Hut, you can really grasp the sheer size of Cradle Mountains famous twin peaks. I then hiked back following the Crater Lake track down to the Wombat Pools and then finished my day by taking the Dove Lake Circuit.
Accomodation here is suitable for any budget. I’ve stayed at budget friendly Discovery Parks and I’ve also stayed at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. Both options were wonderful and provided different experiences relevant to what I needed for both visits. Discovery Parks was the perfect base for, no fuss, self-contained accomodation and was easily accessible to the Visitors Centre. It’s a great option for larger groups of people travelling together or families. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge provided me with a more intimate and decadent escape. After a day of solid hiking and outdoor adventure, there was no better way to end the day than coming back to to the lodge, sitting by the fireplace with red wine in hand overlooking the woodlands, watching the wildlife, and as night falls, gazing at the stars.
I’ve only explored a small piece of this incredible landscape, and whilst I no longer live in Tasmania, it certainly won’t be the last time I go in search of more adventures within the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.