Tasmania is not very big, especially to Queenslanders like us, but Cradle Mountain is as hard to get to as Strahan, and for similar reasons: it’s at the end of several hours’ drive into wild country whether you start from Hobart or Launceston. Launceston is the closer of the two but the trip still takes a couple of hours – down the highway towards Burnie, then through Sheffield, past Mt Roland and up into the northern edge of the highlands. It’s worth the effort.
The entry-point to the park is a big new visitor centre with a carpark to match. Free shuttle buses run from it all day to Dove Lake, the end of their run, with stops at accommodation, walking tracks and the ranger centre.
We fitted the Dove Lake walk and two shorter walks (Enchanted and Waldheim) into the two long half-days we had there. Another day would have been nice, but I’ve already said that about several other places we saw, so I guess we really needed a longer holiday.
The Dove Lake circuit is deservedly popular, being long enough to count as a ‘real’ walk but short enough to do in a day and without specialised gear. It begins at the southern end of the lake near Dove River, the lake’s outlet. We turned left when we got to that point, so our walk follows the eastern shore towards the mountain before returning along the western shore, passing the famous boat shed near the end of the circuit. It’s an easy walk on good gravel paths and boardwalks but long enough to take three hours or more.
We visited in early December and enjoyed a wonderful display of flowering shrubs but not much wildlife; a black currawong joined us when we stopped for lunch, and we saw wombat droppings but that’s about all. The forecast was for a top of 9 degrees (but “feels like 2”) with showers, and that’s what we got – sunshine, light showers, and wind gusts kicking up water-devils on the lake. (Well, they would be dust-devils in dry paddocks, so why not?)
I couldn’t bring myself to reduce image sizes too much but I didn’t want the page to load too slowly, so click on any image and, if you like, scroll through to see them at full size in the lightbox.
• Introduction and index to Tasmanian blog posts 2020-21.