I’m sitting here in a timber cabin called Snowgum, listening to the rain bucket down outside. The sky is a dull grey, and the wetness is dampening, branches wilting under the pressure, but I don’t mind; it’s giving me a good reason to kick back and take it all in. Our wood fire is starting to dwindle now, but I’m so comfortable on the couch with a glass of red to be bothered to get it started again, the slight throb of my calves a subtle reminder of the epic hike earlier today.
Driving from the West Coast of Tasmania to Cradle Mountain, the scenery is in constant change. As you turn one corner, you’re greeted by an army of pine trees, after another, more rich rainforest. There’s a distinctive whiff of spring in the air at the moment, with wild flowers popping up on the river banks and yellow blossoms in full bloom. Once you get higher in the mountains, the nature becomes a little more rugged, and taller trees give way to smaller shrubs.
Without doubt, Cradle Mountain is one of the most dramatic landscapes in Tasmania. Cradle Mountain forms the northern end of the beautifully rugged Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park, an integral part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
There are plenty of hikes to do in Cradle Mountain which cater for the novice and expert hiker, and everything in between. Tourists can either take a shuttle bus in to the National Park from the Information Centre or you can get there early and drive in. Entry to the national park has a strict traffic control, and only allow about 50 vehicles in at a time (managed on a “one in one out policy”). Travelling at shoulder season definitely has its benefits, and we drive in without an issue. early in the morning. We make our way down to the Dove Lake car park and sign in for our adventure.
It takes all types. A middle-aged couple, hoist their heavy backpacks and camping goods on their shoulders and set off on an epic six-day journey on the Overland Track, while another group of international tourists stare comically at their high-heeled boots, no doubt regretting not packing their hiking boots on their travels.
The Cradle Mountain Summit Walk is a popular all day hike – recommended for hikers with moderate hiking experience (the climb up the rocky part of mountain is quite steep and involves some scrambling over rocks). Today, we opted for the hike to Marions Lookout where you can choose from the most direct route (which is also the steepest) or the slower, more relaxed route via Wombat Pool. From Dove Lake, the jagged contours of Cradle Mountain loom from a distance. It’s a beautiful walk, full of wild heathlands, beech trees and ancient pines. And don’t be surprised if you spot a wombat or two along the way!
The view from Marion’s Look Out is spectacular and is the perfect pit stop for lunch. There’s something about the mountains and the fresh country air which makes the food tastes better, and my only regret is not taking a thermos for a nice cup of coffee. We perched on the summit and overlooked the reflections in the lake below and the picturesque dolerite columns of Cradle Mountain. From here we climbed the summit via the Horse’s Track through muddy swamps and snow towards Crater Peak and slowly made it down to the lower car park with very jelly legs. There’s also a beautiful walk by Weindorfer’s Hut through a King Billy pine rain forest.
At the end of the day, snuggle up by a wood fire with a glass of red. It will make the hike feel worthwhile.Bliss!
Where to Eat
Dining options are very limited in the Cradle Mountain region so it is best to self cater. There are two dining options at Cradle Mountain Lodge (but be warned it doesn’t come cheap!).
A 4038 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain TAS 7306
T 1300 806 192
Where to Stay
Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottages set on ten acres of natural Australian bushland.Each cottage is secluded, fully self contained, self catering and private. I recommend Snow Gum which has a hot tub – perfect for a relaxing soak after a long hike.
A 3876 Cradle Mountain Rd, Cradle Mountain TAS 7306
T (03) 6492 1116
- Wander or take a tour through a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary
- Take a scenic helicopter flight deep into Tasmania’s wilderness
- Visit the day spa at Cradle Mountain Lodge for the ultimate indulgence
- Go on a wildlife spotting night tour
Images Discover Tasmania