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Cradle Mountain, TAS

One of Tasmania's most impressive natural wonders.

On a clear day Cradle Mountain is a reminder that nothing surpasses the loveliness and beauty of Tasmania. Located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which was declared in 1982, Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake are picture-postcard perfect. They are, for most visitors, the start of a walk either into the mountains or, more leisurely, just around the the shores of the lake. The National Park, which has over 25 major peaks, covers an area of 124,942 ha of rugged, glaciated landscape with impressive glacial formations - tarns, glacial lakes, moraine deposits, cirques, U-shaped valleys and waterfalls.

Location

The entrance to Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake is located 153 km west of Launceston, 88 km south-west from Devonport and 332 km north-west of Hobart via Deloraine and Sheffield

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Origin of Name

Cradle Mountain was named in 1827 by the explorer Joseph Fossey who thought it bore a remarkable similarity to a gold prospector's cradle. At the same time he also named Barn Bluff for similar self-evident reasons.

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Things to See and Do

Cradle Mountain Walks
There are a large number of walks in the park. The sensible thing is to talk to the rangers at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. To give you some idea download http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6464 where you will find a list of eight walks ranging from 20 minutes to eight hours.

Pencil Pine and Knyvet Falls - 20 minutes
A short walk along Pencil Pine River to Pencil Pines Falls and the Knyvet Falls. The entire track is on a boardwalk and, for those who like bracing mountain waters, there are suitable places to swim.

Enchanted Nature Walk - 20 minutes
This short walk starts in front of Cradle Mountain Lodge and passes across buttongrass plains and through teatree thickets to eucalypt woodland and mossy myrtle forests. In the evening and early morning it is possible to see wombats along the route.

Dove Lake Circuit - 2 hours return
A pleasant walk around the foreshore of Dove Lake with excellent views of Cradle Mountain. It passes through sub-alpine plant communities and temperate rainforests.

Crater Falls, Crater Lake and Wombat Pool - 2-3 hours
Described by Cradle Mountain Lodge as "An excellent walk which takes you to the Crater Falls and a magical forest with pandini and sassafras trees. Discover the hidden glacial lake surrounded by 200 metre cliffs. Great views of Marion’s Lookout and Crater Lakes."

Cradle Mountain Summit - 6-8 hours return
A serious walk to the top of Cradle Mountain for serious bushwalkers. It offers panoramic views over the surrounding National Park - notably Dove Lake and Mount Ossa, Tasmania's highest peak.

Artists Pool, Lake Rodway - 6-8 hours return
Often described as Tolkein-like, the landscape on this walk is haunting and beautiful. Most importantly it is a walk to the far side of Cradle Mountain and, inevitably, that ensures you are on your own to experience Lake Rodway and the Artists Pool.

Visitors who stay at the Cradle Mountain Lodge can expect to see nocturnal animals - the Tasmanian devil and possums - which come to the Lodge to be fed. There are also pademelons and Bennet's wallabies in the area. Cradle Mountain Lodge website has detailed information about the walks. Check out http://www.cradlemountainlodge.com.au/activities/walks/

Walkers Beware!
The Parks & Wildlife Service points out that the "weather is notoriously unpredictable – and changes rapidly. Most walkers experience a bit of everything during their journey, regardless of the time of year:  sunshine, rain, wind and snow. Whilst more stable and warmer weather patterns occur from November to April, snow and sleet can – and do – occur in the height of summer. Winter walking should only be attempted by very experienced bushwalkers (snow shoes recommended). Winter days are short (sunrise 8 am / sunset 5 pm) and heavy snow should be expected, which can linger through to mid-Spring.

The dangers of wind chill are such that the mountain has claimed many victims of hypothermia. For those who resist such warnings the memorial on the edge of Dove Lake to Ewan McLeod Scott who died in 1965 is worth a few moments of reflection. Scott was with a party of schoolboys who were caught by the weather in the area. Scott managed to save all the schoolboys but in the process he died from hypothermia.

Guided Walks
An organisation named Life's An Adventure provide a guided Cradle Mountain walk for 3 days that stays two nights in comfortable Pencil Pine Cabins in Cradle Mountain lodge. This 3 day walking tour has been designed for those that want to experience guided hiking in both the Cradle Mountain and Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Carrying just a day pack, enjoy three days of guided walking in beautiful Cradle Mountain, marvelling at 360° panoramic views of Tasmania’s highest mountains. Finish your walking experience with a journey into the remote Walls of Jerusalem National Park only accessible by foot, where you’ll see stunning views of King David’s Peak, Solomons Jewels and Herod’s Gate. No need to carry heavy overnight packs or cook your own food, this walk has been designed for those looking for an affordable multi day walking experience with all the creature comforts. Check out http://www.lifesanadventure.com.au/tours/3-day-cradle-mountains-walls-of-jerusalem-walk.

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Other Attractions in the Area

The Walk to Lake St. Clair
The "famous" Overland Track runs for 65 km from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair. It is defined as a six day walk through the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The website describes the terrain as "a landscape of spectacular glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, fragrant eucalypt forest, golden buttongrass moorlands and beautiful alpine meadows. Extra bonuses include a variety of side-trips to breathtaking waterfalls and mountain summits, including Mt Ossa (1617 m) – Tasmania’s highest peak. To top it off, the walk concludes at Australia’s deepest lake – Lake St Clair. Most walkers finish their walk at Narcissus Hut at the head of Lake St Clair. Here they board a small privately run ferry which takes them to the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay. Some walkers, however, choose to walk the length of the lake through the rainforest, which extends the walk a further 17.5 km and requires another day." Check out http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=7771 for more details and information about booking the walk. You have to book the walk.

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History

* About 10,000 years ago, during the last ice age, Cradle Mountain was covered by a 6 km deep ice cap and glaciers flowed from its edges carving the landscape into the remarkable shapes we see today.

* The Lairmairrener Aborigines moved into the area as the glaciers began retreating. They engaged in extensive burning which produced the button grass plains and attracted animals to the tender shoots of the new vegetation. They built durable huts. There is evidence that the people moved mostly through the valleys and only visited the high country during the summer months.

* In 1827 the explorer, Joseph Fossey, named Cradle Mountain because he thought it bore a similarity to a miner's cradle.

* In 1831 the explorer Henry Hellyer became the first European to reach the summit of Cradle Mountain.

* In 1835 Surveyor General George Franklin travelled through the area. He was followed in the 1830s and 1840s by prospectors, trappers and a few settlers.

* By the 1890s there was some tourism in the area particularly on Lake St Clair where Governor Hamilton built a house and boat shed.

* In 1911 the Austrian-born naturalist Gustaf Weindorfer bought land in Cradle Valley where he built 'Waldheim' which he opened to guests who wanted to explore the area. He died in 1932 and is buried near 'Waldheim'. Weindorfer is credited with naming Dove Lake, Crater Lake and Hansons Lake and is seen as the father of tourism in the region.

* In 1922 the area from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair was set aside as a 'scenic reserve and wildlife sanctuary'.

* In 1927 63,990 ha, including Cradle Mountain, was set aside. Generations of bushwalkers knew it simply as 'The Reserve'. It was eventually enlarged to 124,942 ha.

* The Reserve became a National Park in 1971.

* In 1978 the National Parks and Wildlife Service built a replica of 'Waldheim'.

* In 1982 Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park was placed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding natural, cultural and wilderness qualities.

* Today Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is one of Tasmania's most accessible wilderness regions. It has numerous walking huts, a wide range of walks through the mountains, and the shoreline of Dove Lake, and walks around Cradle Mountain, are easily accessible.

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Visitor Information

Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and Transit Terminal, 2km from the park Entrance, open from 8.30 am - 4.30 pm, tel: (03) 6492 1110.

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Accommodation

The National Parks brochure - http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6464 - provides comprehensive lists of the accommodation both near the park and accommodation in the area.

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Eating

There is a restaurant, Highland Restaurant, at Cradle Mountain Lodge, tel: (03) 6492 2103.

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Useful Websites

The most comprehensive site on the web is http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/file.aspx?id=6464 which is the downloadable Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife brochure on the area.

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2 suggestions
  • Could you guys please make the history of cradle mountain shorter, as in summaries please.

    crystal
    • Hi Crystal, There is a standard format for all histories on Aussie Towns. The Cradle Mountain entry is typical. If I change it, I feel I would have to change all the other ones.

      Bruce Elder