If wild natural beauty gets your romantic juices flowing, then consider the magical highland romance and stunning setting that only the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair World Heritage National Park can offer.
With fresh clean air, mountain peaks, ancient rainforests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, unspoilt alpine heaths and abundant wildlife, the jagged contours of Cradle Mountain epitomise the feel of this vast wilderness area.
Icy streams cascade out of rugged mountains, stands of ancient pines stand mirrored in the still waters of glacial lakes and a wealth of wildlife ensure there is always something to captivate the romantic in you.
Major features of the park are Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff in the northern end, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa in the middle and Lake St Clair in the southern end of the park.
This region is covered in a variety of alpine and sub-alpine vegetation, including the colourful deciduous beech. Alpine coral fern and button grass dominate the alpine wet sedgelands near the mountain summit.
Stands of Tasmanian snow gum can be found at slightly lower elevations alongside Tasmanian eyebright, scoparia heath, mountain rocket, waratah, Cheshunt pine and pencil pine.
Within the valleys surrounding the mountain, species such as myrtle beech, pandani, sassafras, King Billy pine and celery top pine form thick temperate rainforest with dense, mossy undergrowth.
It's easy to uncover the spectacular views of Lake Dove and Cradle Mountain on a day walk, on a horse riding trip or in a canoe gliding across the calm surface of the lake.
Cradle Mountain is the jewel of the park and is visible from Dove Lake. Take the two-hour walk around the lake or spend the day tackling Cradle Mountain's summit. A choice of shorter walks meander through beautiful old-growth rainforest.
See stands of ancient pines mirrored in the still waters of glacial lakes. The park also provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including wallabies, wombats, brush tail possums, currawongs quolls, platypus and echidna.
Bird species in the area include green rosellas, black currawongs, pink robins and Tasmanian scrubwrens, while peregrine falcons and wedge-tailed eagles nest on the mountains cliffs.
In winter, when the area is transformed into a white wonderland, sample the best of Tassie’s gourmet food and wine while you snuggle closer to your partner in front of a roaring open fire.
Cradle Valley and the surrounding areas contain many Aboriginal historic sites, identified by remnant stone tools, caves, rock shelters and stone sources. These can be explored on the Aboriginal Cultural Walk that departs from Lake St Clair at the southern end of the park.
Little evidence survives of the early European activities of hunting, surveying, mining and logging, though several of the present-day walking trails were blazed for these purposes.
The Lake St Clair section of the park offers a choice of lakeside strolls and longer forest walks. Visitors in late spring and summer can witness a brilliant display of wildflowers including waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods.
Lake cruises are available and licensed trout fishing is permitted in season. Scenic flights over the park are also available.
The sixth-highest mountain in Tasmania sits at 1545m (5069 ft) above sea level in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania.
The mountain has four named summits: Cradle Mountain at 1545m (5069ft); Smithies Peak at 1527m (5010ft); Weindorfers Tower at 1459 metres (4787ft); and Little Horn at 1355m (4,446ft).
The mountain itself is named after its resemblance to a gold-mining cradle and rises above the glacially formed Dove Lake, Lake Wilks and Crater Lake.
From the summit, there are magniificent panoramic views of Dove Lake, Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa.
Cradle Summit Walk – This 12.8km (8mi) return walk to the summit of Cradle Mountain involves a climb along a steep and challenging trail.
You should have good all-weather gear, food and water, and be prepared for some steep, exposed scrambling. The climb up the rocky part of the mountain involves scrambling over large boulders for several hundred metres.
The Cradle Summit Walk can be started from either the Ronny Creek or Dove Lake car parks at Cradle Mountain, at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
You can climb the mountain virtually all year round. However, the walk is not suitable when windy, snowy or rainy weather is forecast. If in doubt, stop in at the visitor centre and ask the advice of Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service staff.
On a clear day the rewards for the effort of this climb are considerable, with magnificent views over dozens of mountains and lakes. The return hike should take between six to eight hours depending on the route taken.
This natural freshwater lake is located at the southern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Lake St Clair marks the start of the River Derwent, and is fed by Narcissus River, Cuvier River, and Hamilton Creek. It has an area of approximately 45km² (17mi²), and a maximum depth of 160m (520 ft), making it Australia's deepest lake.
The Aboriginal name for Lake St Clair is leeawuleena, meaning ‘sleeping water’.
Lake cruises are available and licensed trout fishing is permitted in season.
The southern end of the lake is about 106km (66mi) north-west of Hamilton.
The Lake St Clair section of the park offers a choice of lakeside strolls and longer forest walks.
From Cynthia Bay at Lake St Clair, three short walks combined for a 4.7km (2.9mi) figure-of-eight loop around the southern end of the national park taking from 45 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.
The Lamairremener Tabelti Walk offers an insight into the Aboriginal people who lived around Lake St Clair for thousands of years.
The Watersmeet Walk takes you to the confluence of the Cuvier and Hugel rivers. A short walk beyond that is a loop to Platypus Bay, where platypus are sometimes seen.
Visitors in late spring and summer can witness a brilliant display of wildflowers including waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods.
Shadow Lake Walk – Starting in wet forest beside Lake St Clair, this 13km (8mi) circuit track climbs through eucalypt woodland to subalpine moorland and buttongrass near the lake.
Nestled beneath Little Hugel, Shadow Lake offers great views of Mount Hugel. It’s both the perfect resting place and half-way mark on this four-hour walk.
Along the way, close to Shadow Lake the vegetation changes to sub-alpine forest. Here snow gums, buttongrass and sedges flourish. Pencil pines fringe the lake edge and picnic spots are situated around the lake edge.
At nearly 1000m altitude, the highest parts of this walk are subject to severe weather conditions. Check the forecast at the visitor centre before leaving.
Experience Tasmania's stunning Wilderness World Heritage Area by hiking the iconic Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair – a 65km (40-mile), six-day trek (on average) that takes you through the heart of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Although challenging and physically demanding in places, the hike reveals a landscape of glacially carved valleys, alpine lakes, majestic mountains, ancient rainforests, fragrant eucalypt forests, golden buttongrass moorlands and beautiful alpine meadows.
Optional side-trips provide the opportunity to explore cascading waterfalls and mountain summits, including Tasmania’s highest peak, Mount Ossa (1617 m).
Spot wallabies, wombats and possums as you trek from Cradle Valley to the top of Cradle Mountain, descend through rugged highlands, stop by waterfalls and explore myrtle forests with beech trees more than 60 million years old.
Most walkers end the hike at Narcissus Hut at the head of Lake St Clair where a small ferry (prior booking required) operates to Lake St Clair Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay.
Alternatively, you may walk the 17.5km (10.8mi) length of the lake through rainforest to the visitor centre, extending your journey by a day.
Almost half of the track is above 1000 metres in elevation on exposed plateaus in a remote area. Thorough preparation and good gear is essential.
Experienced hikers can tackle the track independently, however several specialised hiking companies offer guided tours that take the stress out of planning. At the end of each day, you can enjoy hearty guide-prepared meals and sleep in the comfort of the private Cradle Mountain Huts.
The Overland Track is renowned as Australia's premier alpine walk and one of the world’s great wilderness bushwalks. The walking season lasts from November to April with long sunny days and an average temperature of 16°C (61°F)
The Overland Track starts from Ronny Creek car park. Shuttle buses depart regularly from outside the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and Transit Terminal during the booking season. Make sure you sign in at the Walker Registration booth at Ronny Creek.
Dove Lake Circuit Walk – Take this 6km (3.7mi) circuit track to enjoy epic views of Cradle Mountain as well as journeying through some of Tasmania's special vegetation from buttongrass and myrtle to sassafras, fagus and King Billy pine.
The Dove Lake Circuit starts from the Dove Lake carpark looping around Dove Lake, beneath the mountain, then returns through rainforest. Ideally, walk in a clockwise direction; it should take around two to three hours to complete.
Crater Lake – This 5.7km (3.5mi) circuit walks takes around two hours to complete and showcases fascinating alpine vegetation. It also provides hikers with a good option when low cloud and rain are lashing higher-altitude tracks.
Crater Lake – located at the half-way point of the loop track – is a classic cirque lake, created when glacial snow and ice gouged out a crater-like hollow, which is now filled with water.
The walk also takes you past the smaller lakes of Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, also beautiful in their own way.
Some bush-walking experience is recommended. Parts of the track has short steep hill sections.
The Crater Lake Circuit starts from the Dove Lake car park at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Enchanted Walk – This 1.1km (0.7mi) short loop walk provides a taste of Cradle Mountain and is suitable for all ages. The track has a compacted surface that has gentle hill sections and occasional steps.
The walk meanders through mossy forest, along a cascading creek. Keep an eye out for colourful fungi, especially during the coldest months.
Look out for pademelons and wombats on the edges of the forest (but don't feed or touch any animals—for their safety and yours). The walk starts near the roadside bridge at Pencil Pine Creek, near the Park entrance.
Mount Rufus – This 19km (11.8mi) circuit walk can be walked in either direction, with the added highlight being the views from the summit of Mount Rufus.
This long and occasionally steep trail takes around seven hours to complete. During early summer the flowering of scoparia can be spectacular.
In clear weather numerous other mountains can be seen in every direction, including Mount Olympus, Mount Hugel and Frenchmans Cap.
With an altitude of 1416m, Mount Rufus is sometimes subject to severe weather.
Turning of the fagus – Visit Cradle Mountain in autumn (late April and May) to see what locals refer to as 'the turning of the Fagus' when the Tasmanian deciduous beech tree transforms from green to vibrant reds, oranges and golds.
Fagus prefers cool, damp places, so it is often best seen in remote highlands.
One of the most spectacular displays of fagus is found around Crater Lake – a two-hour return walk from the Dove Lake car park – with the steep slopes of the lake covered in coloured fagus.
Both the Weindorfers Forest Walk and the Loop Track around Dove Lake allow you to get up close to patches of fagus, including trees that are much taller than the more common stunted alpine form.
Stargazing the Southern Lights – Similar to its Northern Hemisphere counterpart (Aurora Borealis), the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) illuminate the night sky with flickering shades of green, blue, purple and red.
Unlike Aurora Borealis, the Southern Lights can be viewed all year round – although most commonly during winter, May to August, and during the spring equinox in September.
Tasmania is the best place in Australia to witness the stunning light show, and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, with its series of flat, mirrored lakes, is a great backdrop for the Southern Lights.
The park is generally regarded as one of Australia’s best spots for stargazing.
From Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park continue your journey through the West Coast wilderness and explore the wild rivers of the Franklin and lower Gordon.
En route discover picturesque fishing villages and towns steeped in mining history while passing through dense and pristine forest overlooking wide lakes and rivers tumbling through steep gorges.
Must-see sights include…
The largest settlement on Tasmania's West Coast is best known for its copper mines, smelters and deforestation by 19th century mining practices.
Take the chairlift ride to get a bird's-eye view of the damaged landscape, visit the Miners Siding and the Galley Museum or venture underground on a tour that reveals Queenstown's rich mining history and takes you to the working face of a mine.
For a stark contrast, hike through nearby dense forest to disused tramlines and mineshafts, lookouts and spectacular waterfalls – don’t miss seeing Tasmania's highest waterfall, Montezuma Falls.
You can also explore the region's natural beauty on the West Coast Wilderness Railway to the port of Strahan; this is truly one of Australia's great historic train journeys.
Follow the former route of trains that once carried pure copper from the rich mines in Queenstown to the port at Strahan.
Ride the original steam locomotives and coaches for a unique 34km (21mi) journey over high trestle bridges and steep grades through a rain-forested river gorge and past stunning natural scenery.
The line has been faithfully reconstructed to echo the amazing engineering feats of the pioneers who built the railway more than 100 years ago, including the unique ABT rack-and-pinion section on the 1:16 inclines.
Stop for refreshments and sightseeing at some of the original stations of the past – Lower Landing, Dubbil Barril, Rinadeena – where local guides can introduce you to the rich heritage of the railway.
In the Premier Carriage, enjoy cabin service with fine cool-climate wines, fresh local pastries and Tasmanian cheeses.
Located on the northern edge of the vast Macquarie Harbour, Strahan evokes the spirit of independence laid down by 19th century pioneers and miners, as well as 20th century protesters who stopped the damming of the wild Franklin River.
From here explore the wild and beautiful World Heritage Area, an area of 1.38 million hectares – about 20 per cent of Tasmania.
Cruise across the harbour and along the wide Gordon River, jet boat the King River, kayak the rivers, explore the forest in a four-wheel drive or board a seaplane to search for some of the remaining 1000-year-old Huon pine and myrtle trees.
Browse local craft shops for elegant artefacts made from aromatic, buttery-yellow Huon timber.
Cruise out to tiny Sarah Island, Tasmania's oldest convict settlement (1822), located in the remote reaches of windswept Macquarie Harbour.
Here, convicts laboured under the harshest conditions, felling Huon pines for boat building. Flogging was frequently used as a punishment and more than 180 escape attempts were made.
Stroll around the convict ruins for a chilling insight into the cruelties of convict life.
Despite its isolation and grim function, Sarah Island was for a time the largest shipbuilding yard in the colonies. Convicts were also put to work in the thriving pining trade.
Discover one of Tasmania’s richest mining towns. Since 1905 the area has yielded copper, gold, lead, zinc and silver, with an estimated value of AU$8 billion.
Go deep below ground for a tour of the mine or visit Tasmania's highest waterfall – Montezuma Falls, just 10 minutes drive from town.
Begin the track to Tasmania’s highest waterfall at Williamsford, 2km (1.2mi) south of Rosebery.
Choose to travel in comfort on a four-wheel drive tour or take the easy three-hour return walk along a level track to the base of the 104m-high falls.
Montezuma Falls Walk – This 8km rainforest walk follows the route of the historic North East Dundas Tramway through wet, steep, thickly forested west coast country to one of the highest falls in Tasmania.
The track takes you right to the base of the falls and to a bridge that offers great views back to the falls, and out to the wild western rainforests. Return via the same track.
Walking from Williamsford, the track is almost entirely through pleasant and open park-like rainforest. Meander through pleasant park-like rainforest including leatherwood, myrtle, sassafras and giant tree ferns.
Along the way, spot notably White’s thrush, which is a medium-sized, speckled brown and white ground dwelling bird. It forages quietly on the rainforest floor and, when disturbed, flies only a short distance before settling again, enabling you to get a second look.
It takes around three hours to complete the return walk.
Overlooked by Mount Murchison and close to beautiful Lake Rosebery, this former mining town is excellent for exploring the natural beauty of the region.
Hire a mountain bike, saddle up a horse or hike into the wilderness on a guided tour.
Paddle the lake or Henty River with an experienced guide or hop aboard Wee Georgie Wood for a 1.6-km small-gauge steam engine ride from the middle of town. Don’t miss the local woodcraft workshop for a unique souvenir or gift.
Take an historic walk around Zeehan, once Tasmania’s third-largest town. Discover the town’s rich and fascinating mining heritage at the West Coast Pioneer Memorial Museum.
Cast a line for trout in Lake Pieman or crayfish at Granville Harbour, visit Zeehan’s original port, Trial Harbour, or take in the views from the top of Mount Zeehan.
Discover a pristine wilderness area of wild ranging rivers, overhanging cliffs and ancient rainforest that is easily explored from the river or on a series of nature trails.
Cruise the calm waters of the Gordon River through ancient rainforest, admire 2000-year-old Huon pines and visit Tasmania's oldest penal settlement at Sarah Island.
Or head upstream and explore some of Tasmania’s most picturesque landscapes while rafting the tumultuous Franklin River.
Discover more than 300 deep limestone caverns and sinkholes containing stalactites, stalagmites, glow-worms and subterranean streams.
Take a guided tour of King Solomon’s Cave or join an adventure caving experience through underground passages.
Don’t miss Australia’s largest glow-worm display inside the Marakoopa Cave.
Hike through forest to Hartz Peak (1255m) for panoramic views over the ocean and into the very heart of Tasmania’s south-west wilderness World Heritage Area.
Along the way, try to spot the shy platypus, echidnas or perhaps a Bennetts wallaby.
After a day exploring the region’s breathtaking natural beauty of ancient rainforest and alpine heathlands, choose from a range of boutique-style lodges, luxury resorts and comfortable cottages, including the following…
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
Location: 4038 Cradle Mountain Road, Cradle Mountain
Ave nightly price: AUD246 per room
Description: Featuring 2 restaurants and a luxury day spa, the Cradle Mountain Lodge has a selection of wood cabins with views of the surrounding Tasmanian wilderness. A breakfast buffet each morning is included in the room rate. The Waldheim Alpine Spa offers a range of therapies and treatments, along with a steam room, sauna, large hot tub and cool plunge pool. The lodge has more than 20 walking trails to suit every level of fitness. Recognized as one of Tasmania’s best dining experiences, the Highland Restaurant features fine dining in a relaxed setting. Guests can enjoy a game of pool or relax by the fire at The Tavern Bar & Bistro. Each cabin includes a gas or wood fire, minibar, coffee table and comfortable armchairs. Luxury suites featuring a spa tub and private porch with outdoor furniture are also available. On the edge of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, the Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is a 2-hour drive from Launceston and only 90 minutes from Devonport.
Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village
Location: Cradle Mountain Road, Cradle Mountain
Ave nightly price: AUD239 per room
Description: Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village offers private self-contained cottages surrounded by native plants and wildlife. Each cottage has a balcony with rainforest views, plus an LCD TV with free cable channels. All cottages include a well-equipped kitchenette, dining area, lounge area and bathroom. Each is fully insulated with double glazed windows and electric heating. Car parking at the door is provided. The guest lounge features a fireplace and views of Cradle Mountain. Access to an outdoor barbecue area, children’s playground, guest laundry and a tour desk is provided. Hellyers restaurant is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and serves modern Tasmanian cuisine. A varied wine list with various Tasmanian wines is also available. Guests can relax with friends beside the large central stone fireplace or enjoy a drink at the bar. Cradle Mountain Village is located in a secluded setting on the edge of the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park. It is just a 5-minute walk to The Wilderness Gallery and 10 minutes’ drive to The Overland Track.
Cradle Mountain Hotel
Location: Cradle Mountain Road, Cradle Mountain
Ave nightly price: AUD186 per room
Description: Cradle Mountain Hotel is in alpine woodland at the northern end of Cradle Mountain - Lake St. Clair National Park. All rooms feature heating, electric blankets and a TV. The hotel features 60 hotel-style rooms under one roof, split into 2 separate wings. All rooms provide tea/coffee-making facilities, a telephone and private bathrooms with a hairdryer. The Grey Gum restaurant has a dining menu featuring local produce and wines. Quoll’s Bistro provides casual dining and has 2 log fires. Room service and guest laundry facilities are available. Cradle Mountain Hotel is on Cradle Mountain Road, the gateway to the Tasmanian West Coast and Strahan Village. It is just a 5-minute drive to the World Heritage-listed national park. Cradle Mountain Hotel is a 2-hour drive from Launceston and a 75-minute drive from Devonport.
Anytime. The peak season at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair is between September and May.
Cradle Mountain receives an average high of 17°C (62°F) in summer during January and February, and an average high of 5°C (41°F) in winter during June and July.
The average annual temperature in Cradle Mountain is 6.7°C (44°F). On average, the warmest month is February with an average temperature of 11°C (52°F). The coolest month on average is July, with an average temperature of 1.7°C (35°F).
Tasmania has four distinct seasons with the warmest months being December to March. Regardless of where you travel you should be prepared for sudden, temporary deterioration in the weather, especially if bushwalking. Always carry additional warm clothing, including a waterproof outer layer.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is located in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, about 180km (110mi) northwest of Hobart – roughly two hours 30 minutes by road – and about 80km (50mi) southwest of Devonport – around one hour 15 minutes.
The park is easily accessible from Sheffield in the north and from Derwent Bridge in the south. There is no direct road link through Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park.
Cradle Mountain is located at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Note: A valid parks pass is required for entry to Tasmania's national parks.
Apart from walking, take a shuttle bus to the park's main centres. The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and Transit Terminal is the departure point for the Dove Lake shuttle bus. The shuttle bus service aims to protect flora and fauna in the World Heritage Area by limiting vehicle numbers in the park.
The shuttle service operates seven days a week, free of charge. Shuttle bus tickets are available on presentation of your valid National Parks Pass to Parks and Wildlife staff in the visitor centre.
Private vehicle access between the visitor centre and Dove Lake/Ronny Creek (along Dove Lake Road) is not permitted during shuttle bus operating times between 9:00am and 5:00pm each day during the winter period – 1 April to 30 September; and 8:00am to 6:00pm during summer – 1 October to 31 March.
Visitors are permitted to drive private vehicles to Ronny Creek before or after shuttle bus operating hours, however using the shuttle bus service is strongly encouraged.
Latest update: Cradle Mountain attractions: 18 April, 2022