For many Australians, Tasmania's Cradle Mountain is high on their "things to do" list. The 1545m-high mountain is in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Its stunning natural beauty has made it one of the state's main tourist sites.
The mountain is composed of dolerite columns and has four named summits: Cradle Mountain, Smithies Peak, Weindorfers Tower and Little Horn. The area has a great history of mining and railways, pristine waterfalls, grass plains, rainforests and the freshest air imaginable.
Thanks to botanist Gustav Weindorfer who fell in love with the area in 1909, declaring, "this must be a National Park for the people for all time", it eventually became a World Heritage-listed area. He spent 20 years tirelessly lobbying the government and built the first chalet in the area to attract visitors.
Jason Dundas made his way to the area with Tasmanian Expeditions' guide Holger Strie who told him there is a walk for anyone of any age and fitness. There are short walks right through to the 80km Overland Track, which leads up hill and down dale through a variety of breathtaking landscapes. It ends at Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest freshwater lake.
With just a day pack, they headed into one of the largest cool temperate wilderness areas in the world. Jason had never before experienced such beauty, diverse vegetation, peace and ruggedness all in one place, and he loved it.
Weindorfer's Forest Walk is an easy one. The beautiful rainforest is a great introduction to the park. King Billy pines are found only in Tasmania and some you will see are more than 1000 years old.
To really get the best out of it, it's a good idea to plan on spending a few days and enjoy different walks.
After a full day of walking, Black Jack cabins were a welcome sight at the end of the day. They are on a 150-hectare private property, and while not five-star, are comfortable, warm and clean. Before turning in, everyone tucks into a Tasmanian-style barbecue and talks about the day's events.
Black Jack has almost a kilometre of Iris River frontage, loads of walking and mountain bike trails and flora and fauna you may not have seen before.
Dove Lake Circuit was an easy walk the next day. It's mostly flat with a few uphill stages. It takes around two hours to circle the lake and the towering spires of Cradle Mountain are always keeping watch. The track is boarded for much of the way and well marked.
Towards the southern end is Ballroom Forest, a magnificent cool temperate rainforest. It has ancient myrtle-beech trees dressed in moss and many people say it resembles a cathedral. A popular stretch is from the carpark to Marions Lookout past Wombat Pools.
The Cradle Mountain area has a wide diversity of animals. They live in a reasonably undisturbed environment. It's home to the world's largest carnivorous marsupials including the Tasmanian devil, spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll. It is also home to two of the world's three surviving monotremes the platypus and the echidna.
Related video: Inside Tasmania
Tasmania's Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Tasmanian Expeditions, the local arm of World Expeditions, has three-day trips costing $950 per person. They include professional guides, two nights' basic cabin accommodation, all meals, transport by minibus, national park fees, waterproof jacket, overpants and gaiters, sleeping bag and inner sheet. Guides are equipped with emergency communications and group first-aid kit. They operate on Sundays and Thursdays.
Prices correct at October 14, 2010.
For further information
PO Box 5010
Ph: 1300 666 856
Fax: (03) 6333 0100