Cradle Mountain in the Lake St. Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia stands 1,545 meters (5,069 ft) above sea level and is one of Tassies most stunning natural wonders. The boardwalk track around the tranquil Dove Lake provides excellent views of this magnificent mountain as well as providing a fantastic day out for all the family to enjoy. With lots of overland tracks, guided tours, sleepover bushwalking trips, and discounted passes to choose from, you will have plenty of excuses for making many journeys back to Cradle Mountain in the future. For more adventurous travelers with extra time on their hands, the 1,545 meter climb up Cradle Mountain takes five to six hours return from the Dove Lake car park and offers incredible 360-degree views.
Where: Cradle Mountain is located at Lake St. Clair National Park in the Central Highlands area of Tasmania, Australia.
From Devonport: Drive along Forth Road (B19) and turn left onto Wilmot Road (C132). Driving the 88km takes around 90 minutes.
From Hobart: Head northwest on Brooker Ave/?National Highway 1. Follow signs for Longford/?Devonport/?Burnie) and join the Bass Highway/?National Highway 1. Then follow the B13 to B14 to C141 to C140 to C136 and finally onto Cradle Mountain Rd.
The Short and Winding Road to my heart.
The journey begins from our hostel in Devonport in the north of Tasmania, where the five of us drive the 88km south towards Lake St. Clair National Park. From our starting point, its simply a matter of getting onto the C132 and then drive straight all the way. When I say drive straight I mean just continue on this road because the road itself takes a very scenic route up and down hills and through forests. As the driver, I absolutely loved this road trip. Navigating the winding roads provided a welcome change from the monotonous highway and city streets, although my car-sick suffering passengers were eager to get to our destination as quick as possible, prompting the typical are we there yet? questioning. The roads in Tasmania are very peaceful and many times you feel like you have the whole road to yourself, bliss.
Buying an Annual Pass
We park the car at the Lake St. Clair National Park Visitors Center and have a look around the somewhat pricey souvenirs. This is also where you buy passes to enter the National Park. Its best to fill up all seats in your car and buy an all-year car pass (up to 8 people), which costs $60 compared to $16.50 per person for a total of $82.50. Not only is it much cheaper even if you had four people but you can come back as many times as you like to this or any other National Park in Tasmania for a whole year. It is pretty much guaranteed that you will go to other parks considering how many amazing attractions there are in this surprising Australian state.
Those Pesky Birds
From the car park, we take the shuttle bus to the Dove Lake entrance for a spot of lunch. As with all great hostels I have been to, the group decides to make a dish each and then combine everything to create a complete picnic for all to enjoy. Watch out for the crafty crows around here though, they will come closer than you expect and fly off with your cheesecake the moment you take your eyes off it. The Dove Lake is very family friendly and there were many parents with baby strollers. The guide map states it will take around two hours to complete the 6km track around the lake, however with one of our party being a photography enthusiast, we expect our trip to last considerably longer than that.
The Dove Lake car park gives us our first photo opportunity of the magnificent Cradle Mountain. On this bright yet cloudy day, the mountain looks amazing. I wish we were hiking to the summit. We take the track to the left and begin the walk clockwise. It doesnt take us long to get to our first group photo spot on Glaciers Rock a testament to one of glaciers that helped carve out this splendid region during the past Ice Age. Many people have already congregated on the rock for their group photo and its a real party atmosphere with strangers from all round the world swapping cameras to get everyone in the picture. Isnt it amazing how many cameras are operated using just that big button on the top and how so many people still ask for such an instruction to succeed in taking the photo?
The boardwalk circuit around the Lake is very relaxing with many interesting species of trees lining the track. Perhaps the most dominate is the ancient myrtle-beech tree, which prosper in the cool temperate forests of Tasmania. Roughly half-way round the track is the enchanted Ballroom Forest where many myrtle-beech trees stand characteristically wrapped in moss as if they are somehow a beautiful flowing continuation of the ground below. The track around this area can be a little steep so you may want to just head back where you came if its too difficult for you or a member of your group to walk. Back at the car park and the circuit is complete. We took four hours, exactly double the stated guideline but head home with lasting memories in our hearts and in our camera SD cards.
After trekking the Dove Lake circuit, our weary legs remind us of a great day out. Beside the chance for some clean air and healthy exercise, the breathtaking Cradle Mountain provides the perfect backdrop for admiring the natural beauty of one of Tasmanias awesome National Parks.