On the third day of our Tasmania roadtrip, we woke up to an overcast sky and light drizzle. Disappointed, we were nevertheless ready to explore the island’s famous natural scenery at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Having spent the night at nearby park cabins, we made our way first thing to the Visitor Centre where we got our park passes, and proceeded to Dove Lake. Being one of the first ones to arrive ensured that we could park at the trailhead instead of having to take the park shuttle service.
At 1,545m, Cradle Mountain is Tasmania’s fifth tallest peak. Located in the Central Highlands region, it is part of the western “wild” side of the state and one end of a famous hiking trail, the Overland Track. (In Australia, a “track” is a trail, and “walking” is equivalent to hiking. So be wary of an Aussie taking you for a walk!) There are a large number of other trails in the area, one of the most popular being a 6-km circuit loop around Dove Lake at the base of the mountain. This scenic trail is one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, and the one we’d hike today.
We started the walk amid dense cloud cover, with the lake covered in morning mist. Resigned to a cool and moody (but otherwise view-less) hike, our luck turned for the better as the sun rose higher and the moisture quickly evaporated, revealing the majesty of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain right before our eyes. Magnificent! By the time we finished the trail, the weather was very warm and sunny with the scenery completely different from when we started.
Our tight schedule limited the time we could spend at the park, but on any return visit I would make western Tasmania a priority. I can easily see myself spending a week or two in the wilderness here – just spectacular.