Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
This park has two main attractions - Cradle Mountain making up the north of the park, with Lake St Clair in the south.
Gustav Weindorfer first visited Cradle Mountain in 1910 and really liked it. He purchased some land and built by 1912 a chalet for guests. In 1935 the Overland 80km track was created and rangers guided tours along it. The track was improved by 1937
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park has many mountains and spectacular lakes. Mountains which have made this national park famous include Cradle Mountain. Dove Lake and Lake St Clair are truly breathtaking.
There are many short walks to walk and some long walks. Each of these walks is a fascinating experience.
Always keep to formed tracks.
Flora and fauna
Padmelons, Bennett's wallabies, wombats and possums are some of the animals you will meet in this park. Watch out for the Currawongs (they look like ravens), who have learnt to unzip packs. Even if they can't get to your food, they can peck holes in things through your pack.
WARNING: Feeding animals is strictly prohibited in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Fines will be imposed if you are caught feeding animals. Park rangers patrol the park. Do not risk getting fined. Fines will be in large amounts.
The climate here in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is Very unpredictable and can change extremely rapidly. In this part of Tasmania, it rains 9 out of 10 days a year, so fully equip yourself with gear for wet weather.
The temperature is always colder than other parts of Tasmania, although it is not far south. Precipitation here is high because of the large number of trees. It could be raining for 5 minutes, and then it is suddenly sunny. Rain here is very light, like little "flakes" of water. Bring a raincoat instead of an umbrella, because it is extremely windy and you do not want to risk spoiling your brolly.
Get ready for freak weather - including snow in summer.
Either drive yourself or find a bus.
- 1h15m to/from Devonport
- 1h30m to/from Burnie
- 2h30m to/from Launceston
- 4h30m to/from Hobart
Lake St Clair:
- 3h15m to/from Devonport
- 3h15m to/from Burnie
- 2h30m to/from Launceston
- 2h30m to/from Hobart
The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and all accommodation (except Waldheim) are a few kilometres outside the park. If you pay for a vehicle pass you can drive to Ronny Creek and Dove Lake inside the park. With a vehicle pass you cannot use the shuttle bus service. Alternatively, you can get a single person pass which entitles you to use the shuttle bus service. If you bought your own vehicle you can drive between the Visitor Centre and your accommodation (excluding Waldheim) and when you are actually going into the national park, park your vehicle at the Visitor Centre and take the shuttle bus.
- Daily (up to 24 hours) - If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only the $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
- Holiday (up to 8 weeks) - If you are staying in the park for a couple of days it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
- Annual and Two Year passes are also available.
Overland track fee
This fee is in addition to the park entry fee.
- Adults $200
- Children (17 and under) $160
- Seniors/Pensioners $160
The Cradle Mountain shuttle service runs regularly between the Visitor Centre, Ronny Creek and Dove Lake.
There is a ferry service which operates on Lake St Clair between Narcissus and Cynthia Bay (where the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre is located). The price is $38 per person each way. This service is often used by walkers finishing the Overland Track as an alternative to walking back around the lake. There is a radio at Narcissus Hut connected to the Visitor Centre from which you can inquire about the ferry. Visitors to the Lake St Clair end of the park also take this ferry to Narcissus and then proceed to walk back to Cynthia Bay around the lake. The ferry will stop at Echo Point Hut (an hours walk from Narcissus) if requested. There is a radio located here also.
Scenic helicopter flights are available from a building beside the Visitor Centre. The aircraft currently in operation is a Robinson 44. Current prices:
- 2 or 3 adults $245 per person
- 1 adult $490
- Children aged 3-11 $150
There are many spectacular mountains in the national park such as Cradle Mountain, Mt Emmett, Barn Bluff, Mt Oakleigh, Mt Pelion East, Mt Pelion West, Cathedral Mountain, Mt Ida, Mt Olympus, and Mt Ossa (which is the highest mountain in Tasmania).
The vegetation at Cradle Mountain is classified as sub-alpine. It comprises of a diverse and beautiful mosaic of vegetation ranging from rainforest to buttongrass plains. The area contains ancient endemic conifers including King Billy Pine, Pencil Pine, and Celery Top Pine. As well as Nothofagus cunninghamii, a myrtle beech, and Nothofagus gunnii, a deciduous beech, which looks spectacular during the Autumn.
You are likely to see currawongs, wallabies, pademelons, wombats, and if you stay the night possums. Less common sights in the national park include Tasmanian Devils, platypus, echidnas, spotted-tailed quolls and eastern quolls.
There are a range of walks from short easy strolls to strenuous multi-day hikes.
- Dove Lake Loop Track - A great introductory walk to the park, this walk leaves from the Dove Lake carpark. Take the track on the eastern (left hand) side of Dove Lake and follow it clockwise around the lake. The newly-completed track takes you under the shadow of Cradle Mountain, through the tranquil Ballroom Forest and back along the western shore of the lake to your starting point. Allow 2 hours.
- Visitor Centre Rainforest Walk - Leaving from just behind the visitor centre is a short boardwalk that is a must for all visitors to Cradle. Take the time to meander through a patch of cool temperate rainforest and you'll be rewarded with views of the beautiful Pencil Pine Falls. The easy track, suitable for wheelchairs, then circles back to the carpark. Allow 8-10 minutes.
- The Weindorfers Forest Walk - Leaves from Waldheim chalet and takes an easy grade through a forest of King Billy pines, celery-top pines and myrtles. The walk takes about 20 minutes at a gentle pace. Take a little extra time and view the displays in the chalet to catch a brief look at the life of the Weindorfers.
- Enchanted Walk - This leaves from the bridge at the park entrance and passes by scenic waterfalls, pools, moorland and rainforest before returning to the Cradle Mountain Lodge. This walk takes about half an hour and is mostly dry underfoot.
Times are indicative only. Times will vary depending on your fitness.
- Marion's Lookout - 2 hours return. This hike takes you past Crater Falls and Crater Lake to a viewpoint overlooking Dove Lake. There is a steep section with chains.
- Kitchen Hut - 4 hours return. This can be accessed via Marion's Lookout. This takes you up onto Cradle Plateau, where you can admire the alpine vegetation. Kitchen Hut can also be accessed via the Horse Track or by using the Lake Rodway or Lake Wilks tracks to access the Face Track and then the boardwalk to Kitchen Hut. These options will take longer than Marion's Lookout.
- Cradle Mountain Summit - 6 hours return.
- Waterfall Valley - 10 hours return or camp here overnight. This is the first overnight stop of the Overland Track.
- Barn Bluff - 10 hours return or camp at Waterfall Valley.
- Hanson's Peak - 2 hours return. A beautiful hike that, weather permitting, offers fantastic views of Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake and Marion's Lookout. There is a small section with chains. You will also be able to see Lake Hanson and one of the Twisted Lakes.
- Lake Rodway - 6 hours return or staying in the Scott-Kilvert Hut. If staying overnight in the hut, there is information there about the walks that can be done from Lake Rodway. Accessed via the Lake Rodway Track and Hanson's Peak, although (if you are fit and prepared) it can be accessed by doing a loop around the back of Cradle Mountain. This would make it a very long day hike through some rough terrain.
The Overland Track
Cradle Mountain is the starting point of the world-famous Overland Track which runs for 65 kilometres to lake St Clair at the southern end of the park. The walk demands a fair degree of preparation and physical fitness and takes 6 days to walk or longer depending on weather delays and the side trips you take. More information about this walk can be found the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service website.
You can take scenic flights from Cradle Mountain with Cradle Mountain Helicopters or go canyoning in the Dove River Canyon with Cradle Mountains Canyons
There are only a couple of shops just outside the park, prices are expensive. Buy your supplies before you get here.
Eat & Drink
All of the premium accommodation providers have restaurants, apart from Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cabins and Waldheim Cabins. Prices range from reasonable up. There is a small cafe at the Visitor's Centre, where you can buy items such as wraps and drinks.
A small selection of food (including frozen food) can be bought from the Discovery Holiday Park office. It is a good idea to stock up on food before coming to the park - there are plenty of supermarkets in Launceston (if coming from there) and a sizable Woolworths in Deloraine.
Booking in advance is recommended during peak season. They can be some good prices to be had during the off-season (no cheaper than what is listed here).
- Cradle Mountain Chateau - From $75 to $500+.
- Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cabins - From $115 to $270.
- Cradle Mountain Lodge - From $160 to $600+.
- Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village - From $169 to $350+.
- Lake St Clair Lodge - From $35 (bunkhouse) to $400+.
- Waldheim Cabins - $95 (4 person), $135 (6 person), $185 (8 person). The cabins are located inside the park and are equipped with electric heating, single bunk beds, basic cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery and a electric stove. Amenities block has showers and flushing toilets. Linen can be provided at an additional charge ($11.00 per person).
Discovery Holiday Parks are a budget accommodation provider opposite the Visitor Center.  They offer:
- Campsites - Unpowered sites for $35 and powered for $44.
- Dorms - Male dorms and female dorms only, there are no mixed dorms. A 4 share dormitory costs $32. Rooms are heated and all linen is supplied. There is a shared kitchen with all crockery and cutlery supplied. A dorm, which sleeps 4, can be bought out for $74. There is no restriction on the dorm being mixed with this option.
- Cabins - Self-contained, queen bed with electric blanket, bunk beds in separate bedroom, linen & doonas, air-conditioning, kitchenette (with microwave, full size fridge, electric fry pan, kettle and toaster, cookware, cooking utensils and cutlery), dining area and living area with sofa and LCD TV, bathroom with toilet, hair dryer, iron/ironing board. Rooms configured to accommodate 4 or 6 people are the same price. $129.
- Cottages - Self-contained, queen bed with electric blanket, bunk beds in separate bedroom, linen & doonas, air-conditioning, kitchenette (with microwave, full size fridge, electric fry pan, kettle and toaster, cookware, cooking utensils and cutlery), dining area and living area with sofa and LCD TV, bathroom with toilet, hair dryer, iron/ironing board. With the addition of a gas log heater, dvd player, and balcony. Configured for 2, 4 or 5 people. Also as a separate option to the 4 person configuration is twin doubles. $149. For are extra $10 you can get a room with a spa.
Camping inside the national park is not permitted within the day walk area. The first two places you may camp outside the day walk area are Waterfall Valley and Lake Rodway, both of which have huts. Camping inside the park, where permitted, is free.
The huts inside the national park are free to use. All huts are located on the Overland Track with the exception of Lake Rodway Hut. Kitchen Hut and the Ranger Hut between Hansons Peak and Little Horn are for day use only, they should only be used overnight in emergencies.
If you are doing the Overland Track guided with Cradle Mountain Huts, you will use their own private huts. You may be looked after like a king but you need to be as rich as a king as well. Prices range from $2000-$3000.
Always sign in and out of the logbook with your intentions.
Carry a hat, sunscreen, and weather-proof jacket in all seasons as the weather can be extremely changeable. If attempting a longer day walk or starting a walk late in the day, a headtorch is a must. Take plenty of water with you as the lakes should not be drunken from and the water from the tanks at the huts should be sterilized first. Take more food than you think you'll need in case you get caught out longer than you expected.
Sturdy footwear is recommended. Boots are not really required within the day walk area if doing walks from Dove Lake. If beginning at Ronny Creek, going on to Lake Rodway, or beginning the Overland Track boots are a must. You will pass through mud and if it rains, walking in running water.
Do not attempt the Overland Track without a pass. You have a very slim chance of getting through undetected as park rangers will ask to see your pass along the way. If you are caught without a pass you will be escorted back to Cradle Mountain.
Transportation out should have been arranged when you come in. You can contact transportation services yourself, if you have a phone or internet access. Else your accommodation provider or the people at the Visitor Center may be able to help.