Guide to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Be inspired by the alpine wilderness of Tasmania's captivating Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Guide to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
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Guide to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Be inspired by the alpine wilderness of Tasmania's captivating Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

You'll feel a million miles from modern life when you glimpse the jagged dolerite peaks of Cradle Mountain across the mirrored waters of Dove Lake. It's a wilderness vision that draws travelers to World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park time and time again.

Formed by glacial forces during the last Ice Age, the park has vegetation unlike anything you'll find on Australia's mainland. Walk round silent, mirrored Dove Lake, past waterfalls and through the myrtle beech and pencil pine of the Ballroom Forest. Or lose between one to five hours on one of the other popular walks including Hanson's Peak, Twisted Lakes, Lake Rodway and Lake Lila.

Cradle Mountain highlights

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Of course the park's most famous walk is the six-day Overland Track to Lake St Clair. The trek is a true challenge and great way to immerse yourself in the area's majestic, fast-changing scenery. Walkers are limited for environmental reasons so you'll need to book with Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service in advance. When planning, keep in mind you shouldn't attempt the trek in the winter months of June, July and August when you can get snowed in.  During April, you can see the spectacular changing colours of the deciduous beech.

The walk begins at the Waldheim Chalet in Cradle Valley, where you'll see wallabies and wombats feeding on the grassy entrance. Trek to the top of Cradle Mountain through button grass plains and herb meadows.  From the 1,545 metre summit, you can look out over Dove and Crater Lakes and see valleys, plateaus, heaths and forests stretching for around 80 kilometres. It was this view that inspired Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer to begin campaigning for the area to be “a national park for the people for all time”. That was in 1912 and the park was granted World Heritage status in 1982.

As you descend through the rugged highlands, you'll see why Gustav was so inspired. This is a rare, diverse wilderness and most of the time you'll have it all to yourself. The only passers-bys are walkers, wallabies, curious possums and shy, nocturnal wombats. After a few days on the track, office politics and road rage will be another world away. Stay overnight in huts, including the well-equipped Pelion Hut at mid-track and Du Cane, once the bush home of trapper Paddy Hartnett and his wife. In late spring and summer, the surrounding Leatherwood forest is covered with large white flowers.

Climb Mt Ossa, Tasmania's highest mountain and visit the fairytale D'Alton, Fergusson and Hartnett waterfalls. Explore magical myrtle forests and see a species of beech tree more than 60 million years old. Your journey ends with a cruise along Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest freshwater lake and a walk past highland lakes and rivers. Swimming is even an option, if you can handle the icy invigoration.

You'll feel alive whether or not you brave the waters. What's more, even when you return to modern life, you'll always carry a piece of this special Tasmanian tranquillity.

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