The Cradle Coast region is spread across Tasmania’s West Coast and North West Tasmania. It covers one-third of Tasmania and has some of the state’s most remote and pristine wilderness, such as the Tarkine, Narawntapu National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The jewel in the crown is Cradle Mountain, which is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.
Cradle Mountain has some of the most stunning views in Tasmania and is a fabulous place to take long walks. Hope in your car and drive around the Cradle Coast, which is a fabulous region to explore farm gates and fresh food.
- 1 Cradle Mountain photography
- 2 Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail
- 3 Cradle Mountain Accommodation
- 4 More about Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain photography
By Kathryn Leahy
One of my favourite places in Tasmania is only minutes from the Cradle Mountain Dove Lake car park – yes the road leads right to the mountain.
Built by Cradle Mountain’s first park ranger, the historic Dove Lake boat shed was built in the 1940s and stands as it was then today.
It makes a great foreground for the looming backdrop of Cradle Mountain’s jagged peak.
Where is Cradle Mountain?
Cradle Mountain, at 1,545m above sea level, is the fifth highest mountain in Tasmania.
Deep in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, it forms part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The landscape in these parts is a contrast of ancient rainforest, alpine heathlands, button grass plains and stands of deciduous beech, better known locally as Fagus.
Cradle Mountain is changeable. Given the light, the weather or if you can even see the mountain.
Still, I could find no better reason to travel here in winter with layers of thermals on to wait for that one moment in time when the reflecting red sunset hit the tip of Cradle Mountain.
It was at that moment that time stood still.
Cradle Mountain Walks
There are many walks around Cradle Mountain, many of them are day walks.
Dove Lake Circuit
The most popular walk is the Dove Lake Circuit that follows the lake through the Ballroom Forest and under the mountain itself, past glacier rock and back around to the car park.
Weindorfers Forest Walk
Along the road that leads to Cradle Mountain, make a right and head down Connell Avenue to Weindorfers Hut.
Here, “There is no time, and nothing matters.” according to Gustav Weindorfer who set out to explore Cradle Mountain in 1909.
Amazed with what they saw Gustav set about buying land in the Cradle Valley.
He built his forest home in the shelter of ancient pines near a mountain stream. Everything was carried in, including a large cast iron bath.
I spent three hours here and photographed everything in sight.
Blue fungi, log cabins, forest paths, and this historic bathhouse, perched above a mountain stream.
This place is like another world, with wooden huts and forest walks dotted all around.
Given the great diversity of plants, habitats and micro-climates in the park if you look closely you’ll see fungi on the forest floor or sprouting out of the base of mossy trees.
The more you look the more you’ll find.
I was lucky to be accompanied by an intrepid fungi finder on the Weindorfers Forest Walk, coming up with the goods with these blue beauties!
Whoever said blue and green should never be seen?
What I was really here for was to see the Fagus, a rare deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii) seen only in two of Tasmania’s alpine regions – here in Cradle Mountain and in the alpine regions of Mount Field National Park.
The colours of the Fagus, as it turns in winter from green to gold to amber and then rich ruby red, is a sight that sends nature lovers rushing to alpine heights to catch a glimpse of the rare native.
It’s a small window of time, where landscapes are ablaze with colour and a quiet reminder that some 100 million years ago, Tasmania was once a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana.
Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail
Cradle Mountain is one of the first places in Tasmania that experienced travellers will tell you about. While the craggy dolerite peaks of the 1545m-high mountain are indeed very distinctive, the track known as the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail is also earning its reputation as a destination for lovers of fine food and beverages.
Either take a tour with a local guide or customise your own Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail, which is available as a free app.
The interactive map loops in award-winning produce, cellar doors, farm gates and food festivals with suggested itineraries that are brimming with options.
What better way to burn off those calories than with a post-prandial stroll around Cradle Mountain, a scenic Stairmaster of sorts.
Cradle Coast Activities
Look up, look down
Experience life on the edge with a climb up the monolith known as ‘The Nut’ in Stanley.
Although you can judder up to the top of the volcanic plug via chairlift, it’s much more exciting to walk the 2km to the summit, which offers views of sky and sea across Stanley and the Bass Strait.
Keep your peepers peeled for pademelons. And at night, look up into the sky for the shimmering lights of the Tasmania Aurora.
Complete the Dove Lake Circuit
There’s lime green, bottle green, seaweed green, jade green and emerald.
Then there are a billion other shades of everything in between along the divine 6km circuit that loops around Dove Lake.
The views of the craggy spires of Cradle Mountain are also worth cooing over, as is the glistening lake.
The wildlife sanctuary dedicated to preserving the Tasmanian devil offers visitors the chance to see Tasmania’s devil in a sanctuary that is also their natural habitat.
As well as charting the tragic descent of the devil onto Australia’s Most Endangered List, the devil’s own zoo allows you to adopt a devil in order to save the carnivorous marsupial.
Where to dine on the Cradle Coast
Pier 01 owner and head chef Matthew Waller is making waves on the Leven River in Ulverstone with his commitment to local produce from Tasmania’s northwest.
A testament to Pier 01’s success is the fact it won the 2014 Cradle Coast Regional Tourism Award for Restaurants & Catering Services.
You could do worse than be seated overlooking the pier drinking a glass of Derwent Estate Riesling with Seven Sheds beer-battered fish of the day with sea-salt dusted fat boy chips, salad and aioli.
Worth circling on your calendar is the Paddock to Plate Farmers’ Feasts held on the last Thursday of every month. Yes, please.
House of Anvers
This traditional European-style coffee shop specialises in chocolate.
Belgian-born chocolatier Igor Van Gerwen has been capturing the essence of roasted, ground cacao seeds for three decades and he manipulates the molten product to great effect.
As well as enjoying handcrafted couverture chocolate, waffles with ice cream and melted mugs of chilli-spiked hot chocolate, at House of Anvers, you can watch the staff tempering, moulding and enrobing the products that are for sale onsite.
Do stock up on Fortunato No. 4, made from Pure Nacional, the rarest form of chocolate in the world.
Cradle Mountain Accommodation
Location, location, location.
Day hikers who want to be stick-in-the-muds quite rightly suggest stopping at Cradle Mountain Hotel, an ideal and affordable family-friendly location from which to launch off into the expansive wilderness.
The fact there are private rooms, clean, comfortable beds, log fires and red wine waiting for you just moments after you’ve shrugged off your mud-caked boots makes your home away from home literally where the hearth is.
Indulge yourself in a premium room, which features electric blankets, tea and coffee-making facilities.
There are televisions, too, but the views outside are all that’s worth watching.
More about Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is the most accessible of Tasmania’s iconic mountain landscapes. It’s a great locale for families and the less agile to experience the wilderness.
Situated at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, it’s a fascinating landscape of temperate rainforest, glacial lakes, alpine heathlands and button grass.
Stands of deciduous native beech surround the jagged contours of Cradle Mountain.
During spring and early summer, there are fabulous wildflower displays. In autumn the beech trees turn gold, russet and deep red.
To learn about the early days, check out the recreated shingled Waldheim Chalet, tucked among myrtles and King Billy pines in Cradle Valley.
The original cottage was home to pioneering Austrian conservationist Gustav Weindorfer and his wife Kate who led the charge to protect Cradle Mountain.
You can wander through dense, old-growth rainforest on the 20-minute Enchanted Walk or make the two-hour circuit of atmospheric Dove Lake, which is one of Australia’s great short walks.
If you’re feeling more active, there is the more strenuous six to eight-hour Cradle Mountain Summit Walk.
Cradle Mountain is also the start of the world-famous 65km Overland Track, a spectacular six-day walk that immerses hikers in some of Australia’s finest mountain terrain. It’s an iconic Tasmanian walk that you should put on your bucket list.
The weather in the park changes very fast and it often snows in the middle of summer!
Outside the park entrance, it’s worth visiting [email protected], a Tasmanian devil sanctuary, to learn about the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, the endangered Tasmanian devil.