Cradle Mountain National Park is a must-visit destination on a trip to Tasmania. I had read about the untouched wild landscape and fantastic hikes and wanted to work it into my 8-night Tasmania road trip Itinerary.
I decided on which hiking trails I wanted to do and concluded that staying for 2-nights in Cradle Mountain would be enough time to experience several of Cradle Mountain’s shorter hikes and also get to visit the Tasmanian Devils’ wildlife sanctuary.
Writing this post has brought back to me just how special this place is and how much I loved it there, and I hope you find this post helpful in planning your own trip to this magical wilderness.
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First Impressions of Tasmania
My son Dominic and I had arrived in Tasmania from Melbourne on the overnight ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania. Once the rental car had been picked up (by a very tired Angie), we were on our way to Cradle Mountain by way of Sheffield, the Tassie town known for its murals.
We were already getting an idea of what the Tasmanian Wilderness had in store for us during our drive. Eagles soared in the clear blue skies above, and beautiful enchanting views of mountains and lakes allowed us a glimpse of Tasmania’s unspoilt natural beauty.
This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.Gustav Weindorfer – Tasmanian Botanist
The Driving Time from Devonport (ferry terminal) to Cradle Mountain is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Driving times are approximate but allow extra time if you stop in Sheffield. We grabbed a coffee and croissant there and wandered the streets taking photos of the impressive murals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Cradle Mountain?
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair is one of Australia’s best and most important national parks. It is a Unesco World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty, spanning an impressive 1600km2. The national park incorporates the iconic Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair, rainforests and diverse flora and fauna.
Visitors come to Cradle Mountain to immerse themselves in the extraordinary natural wilderness and explore the Cradle Mountain hiking trails. From easy routes such as the Enchanted Walk to the difficult 6-day Overland Track that leads through the heart of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, there are hiking trails for all abilities.
If you want to be at one with nature, then 2-nights in Cradle Mountain will make you feel revived and replenished, but beware, you may not want to leave!
Is 2-Nights in Cradle Mountain Enough Time?
This all depends on what you have on your travel itinerary. If you want to do a few short hikes (including Dove Lake, listed as one of Tasmania’s 60 best short walks), spend some time relaxing, and maybe visit Devils@CradleMountain, then 2-nights is the perfect amount of time to immerse yourself in the spectacular surroundings.
If you want to do several long hikes, you will need to add a few more days to your Cradle Mountain itinerary. This will allow you to include some downtime in your schedule.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is located in the heart of Tasmania. Driving times from each of the towns are as follows:
Devonport 1 h 15 mins
Launceston 1h 50mins
Strahan 2 h
Please bear in mind these are approximate timings but can change due to weather and road conditions.
Purchasing Cradle Mountain Passes
You will need to visit Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to buy mandatory permits for your stay. We opted for the Cradle Mountain icon daily pass at $25 per adult (including the shuttle bus).
Yes, this is costly; however, funds are reinvested in the upkeep of the parks and reserves. Every person buying a pass helps towards the future preservation of Tasmania’s natural landscape. Cradle Mountain maps can also be picked up from here.
Where to Stay in Cradle Mountain
There are only a few places offering accommodation in Cradle Mountain.
For us, Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village ticked all the boxes. We wanted self-catering accommodation so we could easily make lunches for our hikes and our own evening meals. We also wanted our accommodation to be in the bush so we could see lots of wildlife. It was, and we did!
Other places to stay that you might like are:
Cradle Mountain Hotel – Luxury
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge – Luxury
Cradle Mountain Highlanders – Comfort
Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain – Budget
For additional accommodation near Cradle Mountain, the town of Moina is a good option. Please see my post, 9 Best Cradle Mountain Accommodations for a Wilderness Break, for more information.
Wildlife in Cradle Mountain
I am going to be totally authentic and tell you that I didn’t see much wildlife during my stay in Cradle Mountain. I had visions of kangaroos hopping about all over the place and wombats scurrying across my path as I walked. In fact, the only animals I saw were one echidna, one possum, several pademelons and lots of big black birds called Currawongs.
Despite not seeing a wombat (do they really exist!) and definitely no platypus (as displayed on various signboards near the waterfalls) – I still had the best time. Cradle Mountain is one of those places where nothing can disappoint you, and it became my favourite place to visit during my 6-week trip around Australia.
Make sure you keep to the boardwalks and designated trails while in Cradle Mountain. They are there to protect the natural environment and animals from being overly disturbed by hoards of inquisitive hikers.
If you are driving in Cradle Mountain at dusk, be mindful of wallabies, echidnas, and all their friends merrily wandering along in the middle of the road. I saw a lot of roadkill in Tasmania and was really affected by it, so please stick to the speed limits.
When is the best time to visit Cradle Mountain?
We visited in February, and the weather was perfect however the weather in Cradle Mountain can be very temperamental. Tasmania’s climate is different from mainland Australia and so great care should be taken to pack the right clothing and footwear.
Layers are the perfect answer to topsy-turvy weather patterns. Pile them on and then peel them off as is needed.
Remember to wear high-factor sunscreen, as Tasmania has a thin ozone layer, and extra protection is needed. There are midges at play in Tassie, so wear a mosquito block to stop yourself from looking like a pin cushion. I forgot to apply it one morning, and midges bit my ankles to bits!
November to February are Australia’s summer months, so the weather is warm, although this is peak season and sees more tourists arriving.
Autumn is a real mixed bag of weather, but the changing colours of the landscape are very appealing.
Winter will be cold, and you can see snow and sunshine all in one day.
Spring is also temperamental but is when new life starts to unfurl, so it is a magical time to visit.
2-Night Cradle Mountain Itinerary
Day One – Morning
Driving toward the national park was something very special and will always stay with me. The scenery is awe-inspiring, and the majesty of Cradle Mountain looming in the distance brings a lump to the throat.
As we drove across the bridge into the national park, we saw Pencil Pine Cascades. We parked up in Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge car park (the start of several smaller hiking routes) and crossed the road to take photos of the waterfall from the bridge. This is exactly why we had come to Cradle Mountain – to see nature at its finest.
The Enchanted Walk
As we were too early to check in to our cabin and were already parked up, we decided to explore the Enchanted Walk, starting by the bridge opposite the lodge. It is an easy 20-minute circular stroll through a moss-covered forest with ferns and the Pencil Pine River running alongside.
It’s here we spotted our first pademelon (which looks like a small kangaroo) and were so excited! Keep an eye out for wombats in this area. We didn’t see any, but apparently, they love it here and make their burrows along the bank!
The Waterfalls Walk
Back at the start of the Enchanted Walk, we then decided to take the Dove Canyon Track to see Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls. The walk takes around 40 minutes and leads you to a viewing platform and seating area to view Knyvet Falls. The whole track is boarded, so it is suitable for all abilities.
Our cabin at Wilderness Village
With passes sorted out, we finally got into our accommodation, and I was thrilled with our cabin. The cabins were all spaced out well, and I felt like I was really in the middle of the wilderness. A balcony with a table and chairs was the perfect place to sit and enjoy morning coffee (and, later that evening, the local wine!)
On both evenings during our stay, we were visited by a menagerie of animals. A family of pademelons, lots of birds and a possum (the first time in my life I had seen one and they are big).
It decided to come onto our balcony one evening and just stared at us through the netting on the patio door. I thought it looked cute but was told later by a local that the possum is regarded as a nuisance and causes quite a bit of damage to property. How can something with such a cute face be so naughty!
Restaurants in Cradle Mountain
We spent some time in our cabin, showering and chilling after our early morning start. I was startled by the brown water that came out of the taps but was told by reception that it is tannin from tree roots.
The colour is picked up as the water passes through from the mountains. It is harmless but does look weird as it cascades over you in the shower!
After our mid-afternoon rest, we went out again to find somewhere to eat. Be warned, there are no fast food outlets.
You either eat in one of the hotels or cook for yourself (stock up on provisions in Sheffield). We chose to return and eat at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge and enjoyed a pasta dish, burgers and a local cider in the sunshine on the deck – all cooked to perfection.
Day One – Evening
Meeting the Tasmanian Devils
After another wander around the area adjacent to the restaurant in the hopes of spotting some wildlife (we didn’t see anything), we jumped back in the car and headed down the road to join the evening feeding tour at Devils@CradleMountain.
I was hoping I might see a wild Tasmanian devil walking around the bush, but it seems they are endangered, so the best way of learning about them and seeing them first-hand is at this wonderful animal sanctuary.
The tour started at 5.30 pm and lasted 75 minutes. We learnt about how they hunt and the facial tumours that are wiping the species out. I would definitely add this to your itinerary as you can’t come to Tassie and not see a Devil in the flesh!
Day Two – Morning/Afternoon
Dove Lake Walk
I had been looking forward to the Dove Lake Walk since I first decided to plan a trip to Tasmania. I had seen its natural beauty in photographs and was longing to see it for myself. Now here we were, sitting in the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus, being taken to this picturesque destination.
The vista of Dove Lake, with the backdrop of the two mountain peaks, takes your breath away. It is one of the most popular walks in Cradle Mountain and one of the most popular destinations to visit in Tasmania.
The walk takes you around the glacial lake, through temperate rainforest, past small areas of shingle and sand beach and ancient myrtle trees. The walk ends at the iconic Dove Lake boatshed, a focal point that is a photographer’s dream. In fact, every part of the walk is inspirational, and I must have taken over 100 photos!
Day Two – Evening
After a fantastic day at Dove Lake, we were pretty worn out (and a little bit sunburnt!) and decided to chill out around the cabin and check out the pool table and bar in the guest area of the reception. This is also the only place you will get wifi, so don’t be shocked to see phones charging and guests busily texting!
We both concluded that two nights in Cradle Mountain had been the perfect amount of time for us to do everything we had wanted, with time to relax at our cabin in the wilderness.
Of course, there are plenty of other outdoor activities in Cradle Mountain to keep you entertained. From kayaking and canyoning to horse-riding, after-dark wildlife spotting and even scenic flights above the wilderness.
And for those looking for the ultimate in relaxation, the Waldheim Spa is the place to sort out those tired muscles, drift off and dream about an enchanted place called Cradle Mountain.
Final Thoughts About Cradle Mountain
If you are thinking of coming to Cradle Mountain, you won’t be disappointed.
It is one place on earth where I felt the natural world around me had remained untouched by man. I absolutely loved everything about Cradle Mountain, and if I ever get the chance to return, I will in a heartbeat.
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