Get down and dirty and let your wild side run free in the ancient wilderness in the north of Tasmania. Set out on a tame scenic stroll, or up the adrenaline factor with fast and furious fun around the Cradle Mountain region.
Arrive at Hobart
Airport on Friday and head over the Derwent Bridge north, bypassing the city of Hobart, on the Brooker Highway. Watch out for the highway signs to Launceston
, following the Midlands Highway the drive will take a little over two hours.
When you get there
Get to Launceston
and check into the funky design-conscious (but reasonably priced) TwoFourTwo
and avoid the temptation to stay in and devour the DVD library from your king-size bed get out and get yourself fed at Black Cow Bistro
. A fantastic relaxed restaurant from the team that brought Stillwater Restaurant
to town and a new standard of quality dining to the north of the state, Black Cow
appeals to the carnivore specialising in hefty cuts of grilled meat. If you're not that way inclined, perhaps consider Mud Bar
which has a more varied (and vegetarian-friendly) menu.
Set your alarm clock for an early start; there's a lot to pack into one day in the Cradle region!
From Launceston, hit the road and head west. At this point, you're going to have either hired a GPS mapping system, or have a savvy navigator riding in the front seat, as the road ahead is full of twists and turns. Belt up.
Depending on your fitness level and sense of adventure, there's a Cradle activity to suit everyone.
Self-guided walks and hikes of all difficulty levels depart from the Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre, from an easy flat stroll around Dove Lake, to a more mountainous scramble over rocks and cliff faces on the Summit Climb. In fact, there are more than 20 routes to choose from, so grab a map before you leave, pack weather for all seasons and heed all advice from the National Parks staff.
For the more adventurous, why not hire a mountain bike and speed down the mountain trails on two wheels? Bike hire can be organised from Cradle Mountain Lodge along with seasonal fly fishing tours and summertime canoeing on Dove Lake. Make sure to call ahead, as these tours are sought-after by both tourists and locals.
Another fun way to get around Cradle Country is on the back of a horse. Cradle Adventures offers guided horseback tours that range from two hours to full-day trips through challenging terrain.
Still too tame? Try playing in the mud on the back of a quad bike with Cradle Mountain Quad Bikes or opt to keep your shoes a bit cleaner with a two-hour bumpy four-wheel drive tour through some of the most isolated wilderness around the Vale of Belvoir.
There aren't a lot of options for a delicate gourmet breakfast round here, but hit the Highland Restaurant
mountain buffet at Cradle Mountain Lodge
for the usual all-you-can-eat breakfast staples and get your fill before getting out in the alpine air again.
When you've finished torpedoing your way through the breakfast buffet, go watch the local Tasmanian devils eat theirs at Devils@Cradle. This sanctuary is located just outside the Cradle Mountain National Park entrance, and houses dozens of screechy devils within the 10 hectares of property.
At this stage, you may feel as though you've already had your fill of wild adventure. If this is the case, go explore the more luxurious offerings of the region.
At The Waldheim Alpine Spa, you can choose to either splurge on fancy body massages, facials and mud-wrap skin treatments, or choose to take advantage of the bargain casual entry to The Sanctuary (steam room, sauna, large hot-tub and cool plunge pool, as well as a relaxation lounge all for $25) if you've already been splattered with enough mud this weekend.
Leave time for a quick browse of the Wilderness Gallery before you leave the Cradle region. Compare the photos from your dinky point-and-shoot digital with the stunning shots housed in the 10 linked galleries. Buy a postcard for Mum from the gift shop on the way out.
Make sure you've got plenty of time (approximately four hours) to get back to Hobart Airport from Cradle country.
What to bring home
Take postcard-perfect photos of the instantly-recognisable Cradle Mountain
, traces of mud on your boots and lungs full of fresh Tasmanian air.
What to leave behind
Forget the Manolos, darling. Cradle country is no urban jungle it's wild, rough and muddy. Prepare to experience all four seasons, probably all in one afternoon.
Where to stay
The mammoth resort-style Cradle Mountain Lodge
, basic cosy chalets at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village
or luxury boutique digs at Cradle Chalet
Got any other suggestions? Share your insight below.