Over a decade ago, pregnant with Striker, T and I set off to visit Cradle Mountain. It had long been on my bucket list and I was super excited about finally taking the trip there. We left early from Hobart and were given direction via Ouse (where my grandfather is buried) and Lake St Clair. By the time we made it to Lake St Clair we realised that we had been given the longest route to the mountain and that there was no way we would make it there and back to Hobart by nightfall. We made the most of our day and explored the pristine waters of the lake, but we left without checking Cradle Mountain off our Bucket List. Another trip to Tasmania came and went and still I was unable to make it. When we planned our recent trip to Tasmania we made sure to set aside enough time to visit Cradle Mountain. I was not going to miss out.
We stayed in an amazing little cottage in Deloraine where I woke to the wafting aroma of bacon and eggs. After breakfast we packed up the car and headed for Cradle Mountain. I was itching with excitement despite the clouds and forecast of rain. Finally, finally I was going to see this elusive marvel. The kids could feel the energy, singing and giggling much of the way.
The road to Cradle Mountain is slow going. It is full of hairpin turns and wildlife regularly jump in front of you. Whilst it is a relatively short journey if you’re counting kilometres, it takes a long time as you sit on 40-60 kilometres per hour much of the way. Despite this, the journey is amazing with some of the most glorious views along the way.
Cradle Mountain is the icon of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness. I’m sure most Australians would recognise its amazing silhouette at a glance. In typical form, I hadn’t done a lot of research about getting to the mountain. I had no idea how you actually access it and was lucky to stumble upon some information the night before we left that provided a tip to park the car at the information centre and take one of the shuttle buses up to Dove Lake. When we arrived we paid $60.00 for a family National Park ticket which lasts for a month (it was $20 on top of the regular Cradle Mountain charge but would allow us to explore any Tasmanian National Park during our visit). Shuttle buses run every 10 minutes although you do need to line up and you may need to wait for the second or third bus through. My recommendation – get to the mountain as early as you can.
One seated on the shuttle bus we were on our way. The shuttle goes a different way to the cars accessing the park. You can drive up but you wait in line for the boom gates to open which only do so as someone else vacates the park. The shuttle bus makes more sense and you can enjoy the drive up this way. We saw so much wildlife including wombats and echidnas.
It didn’t take long for Cradle Mountain to fall within our sight. I became quite emotional and a little teary, overwhelmed that I had finally reached this amazing place and that I was able to share it with my family. When disembarked the bus and walked down to Dove Lake (it’s not far from the car park). What an amazing sight. The years of waiting paid off too because the sun was shining and there was minimal clouds in the sky despite the predicted rain.
The kids wanted to walk. The Dove Lake circuit is 6 kilometres in total and takes about three hours. Of course we had to do it. It’s not exactly easy going nor is is super difficult. There’s a walkway so you will always know which way to go. If you have little kids you could walk to the boat house which is an easier 15 minutes. No matter what you choose you will see wildlife aplenty and the most stunning views across Dove Lake to Cradle Mountain. Don’t take your pram! An Ergobaby carrier is your best bet for babies and toddlers. You’ll know what your kids are capable of doing.
Location: Cradle Mountain lies at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Cradle Mountain is 1 1/2 hours from Devonport via the B19 and B14 south to Sheffield, then C136 and C132 to the park entrance. From Launceston, it is a 2 1/2 hour drive on the Bass Highway (A1), then the signposted route via B13 and C156 through Sheffield. From the west, drive 2 hours along the A10 and C132 from Queenstown or 1 1/2 hours from Burnie via B18 through Ridgley, then the A10 and C132 to reach the park.
With hundreds of people visiting Cradle Mountain throughout the day, visitors are encouraged to leave cars at the Visitors Centre and Transit Terminal (located 2km before the park boundary) and take the shuttle bus service to the Interpretation Centre and Ranger Station, Snake Hill, Ronny Creek, Waldheim, and Lake Dove. A boom gate controls vehicle access to the park and on days of high visitation all visitors (including those with an annual pass) are encouraged to return to the Transit Centre and use the shuttle bus service.
Opening Hours: The visitor centre is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm
Current Ticket Price: $41.25 family (2 adults, 3 children) which includes the shuttle bus OR pay $60.00 per vehicle (up to 8 people) which will cover you for all parks including Cradle Mountain for 8 weeks.
Website: Parks and Wildlife Tasmania
Accessibility: A TrailRider (all-terrain wheelchair) is available at Cradle Mountain for visitors with impaired mobility.