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Eight good reasons to visit Cradle Mountain
Eight good reasons to visit Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park autumn visit

Cradle Mountain flora and fauna : ancient trees and magic corners are the treat awaiting visitors in the quiet autumn months. It’s chilly, and could be damp with a brisk breeze dropping the temperature further yet you are far from the madding crowds, far more Wifi reception and in a world where the natural cycle slows your breath and the world is reduced to the achingly beautiful view in front of you. The best time to visit is year round. The best time to experience joy could be your autumn in Lake St Clair National Park.

Flora and Fauna

Cool temperate rainforest combined with high rainfall greatly diminishes the risk of bushfire. The damp, shaded environment creates a forested moss coated world where prenatural creatures of the imagination run wild. This is a contrast to the tussocked open spaces where boardwalks float visitors above the fragile ecosystem.

1

There is an ancient tree, only found in Tasmania. As a special treat in autumn the deciduous beech or fagus trees turn from red to gold tinted painted colours in autumn. The tree has twisted ground hugging roots which are the contorted home of scurrying insects. Their leaves change from rust red to a brilliant gold during late April and early May. The tree has indented leaves which are easy to identify. In the national park at lower altitude it can be a moderately large tree, but in higher altitudes it’s more shrub-like. The fagus is a supercontinent Gondwana survivor. The Loop Track around Dove Lake is an easy 2-hour walk that passes through some patches of fagus. The even easier Weindorfers Forest Walk also offers easily accessible fagus, including trees that are much taller than the more usual stunted alpine form.

2

View fresh snow on Lake St Clair National Park’s Mt Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain. Made up of jagged Jurassic Dolerite peaks, it was named after the famous Mt Ossa in Greece, significant to Greek mythology. Or check out the summit of Cradle Mountain with its Jurassic rock formations making a great selfie moment. Remember to check weather conditions before embarking on the 6 hour walk.

3

Lake St Clair is Australia’s deepest natural freshwater lake (167m) carved out by glacial periods over the last 2 million years has brilliant light reflections particularly in the autumn sunset light. A great photo moment for nature photography. The boat shed is perhaps the most photographed building in Tasmania. Nothing like rustic timber gently decaying into the landscape as evocative of the transient nature of human occupation.

4

The environment around Lake St Clair is among Tasmania’s most spectacular. Deep glacial lakes are fringed by dense forests of ancient pines, and the high mountains provide a dramatic backdrop. Visitors are rewarded with dramatic changes in the landscape as ancient forests open up into alpine tussocks.

5

Autumn mists and rains have restocked the waterfalls into stunning displays of sheeting water, dripping off ancient rock faces. Visitors will enjoy the copious torrents spilling over rock faces creating waterfall moments. Highlights include Pencil Pine and Knyvet Falls, as well at many cascades along the creeks and rivers.

6

Wildlife is busy foraging in the waning warmth of autumn and early winter. Cradle Mountain is a favourite for marsupials in the wild. Tread softly, wait and be still, walk quietly and the locals will emerge. You could be in the presence of a wombat, wallaby, pademelon or potoroo. At night, you’ll likely see possums but also keep a keen eye out for an elusive quoll or the endangered Tassie devil. A furry delight, the wombat sightings are helped by keen observation of the boardwalk from Ronney Creek along Cradle Valley; this is wombat central. Check the ground for paw prints or look for exposed grassy tussocks where wombats slowly graze on their favourite food, native grasses from the tussocks, wallaby grass and kangaroo grass. “Native wildlife is abundant in the area – Bennett’s wallabies and pademelons are easily spotted by visitors to the lake, and wombats, echidnas, quolls, and platypus are also resident.” Source Parks Tasmania.

7

The chill outside is a perfect reason to enjoy the indoor warmth of There are plenty of indoor experiences too – head to Cradle Mountain Hotel and their inspirational Wilderness Gallery. The gallery specialises in wilderness photographers original reproductions. There are ten photography galleries to browse and entry is free.

8

Autumn pampering doesn’t come much better than Waldheim Alpine Spa can soak your cares away. Gaze into the natural world, and finding your zen moment will just come naturally in the beauty of Tasmania’s wilderness.

Travel pack information

Expect rain, blustery wet conditions, fog with an average of one day in ten being sunny. The most stable month is February and March with snow falling throughout the year. Expect four seasons in one day.

SAFETY

Your accommodation provider will have a daily logbook for visitors to record proposed whereabouts. Always sign in and sign out.

Carry a hat, sunscreen, and weather-proof jacket in all seasons as the weather can be extremely changeable. If attempting a longer day walk or starting a walk late in the day, a head torch is a must. Take plenty of water with you as the lake water is not safe to drink. Water from the tanks at the huts should be sterilized first. Take more food than you think you’ll need in case you get caught out longer than you expected. Sturdy footwear is recommended. Boots are strongly recommended for multiple day treks. It is likely footwear will get wet.

Do not attempt the Overland Track without a pass. Rangers will escort you from the park if you have no pass.

TIP: Day trip from Launceston is not recommended.

Most visitors are on a quick in and out day trip from Launceston. Launceston is a 2 hour drive (one way). Day trippers from Launceston spend 4 hours journeying from their accommodation to the park making it a long day with really little opportunity to relax into the spirit of a wilderness area.

For budget accommodation check out article Ten places to camp in Tasmania

GETTING THERE

There are two entrances to the park:

Northern entrance, at the town of Sheffield, approximately 1 ½ hour drive from Launceston. Southern entrance is at Derwent Bridge, in Lake St Clair National Park, a 2 ½ hour drive from Hobart. There is no direct road link through Cradle Mountain. Bookings for the Lake St Clair passenger ferry can be made at Lake St Clair Lodge, and fishing licences are available from Derwent Bridge Chalets. Find out other essential information for visiting Tasmania’s parks and reserves on our Know before you go section.

ENTRANCE FEES AND PERMITS

The Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and all accommodation (except Waldheim) are a few kilometres outside the park. If you pay for a vehicle pass you can drive to Ronny Creek and Dove Lake inside the park. With a vehicle pass you cannot use the shuttle bus service. Alternatively, you can get a single person pass which entitles you to use the shuttle bus service. If you bought your own vehicle you can drive between the Visitor Centre and your accommodation (excluding Waldheim) and when you are actually going into the national park, park your vehicle at the Visitor Centre and take the shuttle bus.

  • Daily (up to 24 hours) – If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
  • Holiday (up to 8 weeks) – If you are staying in the park for a couple of days it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
  • Annual and Two Year passes are also available.
  • If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only the $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
  • Holiday (up to 8 weeks) – If you are staying in the park for a couple of days it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
  • The Cradle Mountain shuttle (free) is the only way to travel through the park during opening hours, 8.00am to 9.00pm (summer October – March) and 8.30am – 4.30pm (winter).  Shuttle peak time is every 15 minutes from the Visitor Centre. Main stops include Interpretation Centre, Snake Hill, Ronny’s Creek and Dove Lake. Check here for more info.Source Wikitravel

TRAILS AND BOARDWALKS

Signs instruct visitors to not leave the designated trail. Protecting fragile vegetation as trampling over the tussock to snap a photo of a wombat is not worth the angst of damaging said wombat’s dining options as well as avoiding very nasty up to the thigh-high bogs that lie alongside the boardwalks.

LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS

No rubbish bins means you carry out all rubbish. Plan ahead to carry out your rubbish.

WEATHER AND CLOTHING LAYERS

It rains and with sudden drops in temperature be prepared.

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