Mountain with Lake Dove in the
Spectacularly beautiful area in the heart of
the island which is ideal for bushwalking
Located 144 km from Launceston and 83 km from
Devonport, Cradle Mountain is the central
feature of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair
National Park, part of Tasmania's World Heritage
area. The park covers an area of 124 942 ha
which is characterised by a rugged, glaciated
landscape with over 25 major peaks and a wide
range of glacial formations - tarns, glacial
lakes, moraine deposits, U-shaped valleys and
The area was glaciated during the last ice
age (about 10 000 years ago) when a huge 6 km
ice cap formed and glaciers flowed from its
edges carving the landscape into dramatic shapes
with their inexorable erosive powers.
The first human settlement of the region
occurred when the local Aborigines moved into
the highlands as the glaciers began retreating.
The extensive button grass plains are a legacy
of their extensive use of fire to clear pathways
through the rugged terrain and to aid hunting by
attracting animals to the tender shoots of the
Early reports of the Aborigines in the area
tell of recently burnt vegetation and well
constructed huts of bark some of which were
still standing 25 years after the last of the
people had been removed.
Archaeological research in the Cradle
Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park has
revealed many Aboriginal sites consisting of
stone tools and quarries which suggests that
people moved mainly through the valleys with
occasional visits to higher areas.
Cradle Mountain was named in 1827 by the
explorer Joseph Fossey who decided it bore a
remarkable similarity to a cradle. It was first
climbed by a European in 1831 when the explorer
Henry Hellyer successfully reached the summit.
Surveyor General George Franklin passed through
the area in 1835 and he was duly followed by
prospectors, trappers and settlers. As early as
the 1890s there was some tourism in the area.
Governor Hamilton had a house and boat shed
built for visitors on Lake St Clair.
The man remembered as the founding father of
tourism in the area was the Austrian born
naturalist Gustaf Weindorfer who, in 1911,
bought land in Cradle Valley where he built
'Waldheim' which he opened to guests who wanted
to explore the region. When his wife died
Weindorfer moved to Cradle Valley permanently.
He died in 1932 and is buried near 'Waldheim'.
Weindorfer is credited with naming Lake Dove,
Crater Lake and Hansons Lake. He named Mount
Kate after his wife.
Reservation of land began in 1922 when an
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, were set aside as a reserve. Known as
'The Reserve' to generations of bushwalkers the
area was eventually enlarged to 124 942 ha. It
became a National Park in 1971.
In 1978 the National Parks and Wildlife
Service built a replica of 'Waldheim' and this,
combined with the Cradle Mountain Lodge and the
excellent new NPWS Information building, have
made Cradle Mountain one of the most accessible
and interesting attractions in Tasmania.
In 1982 Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair
National Park along and the Franklin-Lower
Gordon Wild Rivers National Park were placed on
the prestigious world heritage list in
recognition of their outstanding natural,
cultural and wilderness qualities.
Today the area is a model of an accessible
wilderness region. There are numerous walking
huts, a wide range of walks through the
mountains, a road to the edges of Lake Dove
which lies in the shadow of Cradle Mountain, and
plenty of excellent accommodation.
Things to see:
Walks in the Area
Visitors who decide to stay at the Cradle
Mountain Lodge can enjoy the short Enchanted
Walk along the Pencil Pine River. At night time
the nocturnal animals which inhabit the park -
the Tasmanian devil and possums - come to the
Lodge to be fed. There are also pademelons and
Bennet's wallabies in the area.
It is possible, according to the season, to
take day walks to Cradle Mountain and Crater
Lake, to go alpine skiing (although there are no
lifts or ski facilities), to swim in the lakes
(if you are an iceberg), to climb Cradle
Mountain or to take lengthy walks through the
The most popular walks include Mount Campbell
(about 3 hours), Hansons Peak (about 3 hours),
Twisted Lakes (3-4 hours), Lake Rodway (5
hours), Lake Lilla (1 hour) and the Ballroom
Forest (3 hours).
Warnings for Walkers
It is worth remembering that this is an area of
great danger to the unwary and the unprepared
walker. It is so easy to underestimate the
dangers of mountain weather. It is possible, in
the space of a few minutes, for the weather to
turn from a sunny day to rain and sleet. The
dangers of wind chill are such that the mountain
has claimed many victims of hypothermia.
It is sensible to check the weather
conditions with the rangers and to study the
'How is the weather in Cradle Valley today?'
placard which is located at the Lake Dove car
park. For those who still resist such warnings
the memorial on the edge of Lake Dove 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.