Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park is located east of Queenstown, with only two points of vehicular access to the park, being at the mountain in the north and the lake in the south.
The Cradle Mountain section is 131km northeast of Queenstown. This spectacular mountain surrounded by stunning lakes, brilliant wildflowers and native fauna is one of Tasmania’s most popular and scenic attractions.
A variety of walks are available to suit all levels of fitness and the grandeur of the mountain can still be appreciated from near the car park or the short 600m easy walk to Glacier Rock.
A popular and easy walk is the Dove Lake Loop Walk which is a 6km circuit. The walk is mostly flat and so enjoyable that the 6km flies by in no time. As you circle the lake you see Cradle Mountain from different view points and have many fabulous photo opportunities. We highly recommend walking the circuit in a clockwise direction as you see more of the mountain as you are approaching it for half the walk. The walk ends just 600m past the Dove Lake Boat Shed, which is another short walk the less fit can do from the carpark for a different viewing perspective.
Another magnificent aspect of this walk is the absolutely striking display of wildflowers
throughout the bush. The pink, white, yellow, red and orange blooms just bursting all over the place are stunning.
The ultimate achievement is of course to reach the mountain's summit. This walk is a challenging 6km climb, reaching an altitude of 1545 metres over difficult terrain in some sections. Note the climate can change quickly and extremely in the mountains here so go well equipped with a backpack, warm clothes, waterproof raincoat, hiking boots, beanie and food and water. Also inform a friend of your plans and register your walk at the Visitors Centre.
If the summit seems a bit too daring for you, a more moderate climb is to Marion’s Lookout via Wombat Pool. The 2km climb is of moderate grade and takes in views of Dove Lake and cradle Mountain from different angles. Reasonable fitness is required for this walk.
On the other end of the fitness scale, intrepid hikers might wish to tackle the Overland Track
which leads from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair
through the heart of the national park over some challenging and rugged terrain. The track is 65km in length and takes 6 days to complete. Hikers must register with Parks and Wildlife and do plenty of research before attempting this physically demanding walk.
Cradle Mountain really is one of the scenic highlights in Tasmania and is well worth a visit whether you can only handle a short walk or plan to hike to the summit. Camping and accommodation is available at the Discovery Park at the park entrance. Make sure you include Cradle Mountain on your Tassie itinerary!
The Lake St Clair section of the national park is 88km east of Queenstown. The picturesque area offers short walks exploring the lake, adjoining rivers and surrounding bushland and long day and overnight hikes exploring the mountainous wilderness. An easy walk to get a good look at the area without straining yourself is the Watersmeet and Platypus Bay Circuit. This 4km walk through bushland crosses the point where the Cuvier and Hugel Rivers meet and takes you to Platypus Bay on Lake St Clair where you can spot for platypus. The circuit continues alongside the lake and back to Cynthia Bay where the Visitor Centre is located and the walks depart from. A viewing platform is also located here for those not keen on walking far.
Camping is available at the Lake St Clair Wilderness Resort on the waterfront or you can bush camp at Lake King William. The free camp turnoff is 2km west of the national park turnoff on an unsealed road. A boat ramp is located here, fires and dogs are permitted.
National Park entry fees of $24 per vehicle or $12 per person for 24 hours apply. If you plan to visit a few parks whilst in Tasmania it is certainly worth purchasing the annual parks pass for $96 per vehicle which allows unlimited access to all parks. This can be purchased from Visitor Centres or Parks and Wildlife offices.
Exploring this national park from the north and the south offers different scenery so typical of Tasmania. The diverse landscapes of such a small state are just remarkable and so enjoyable to explore. You just never know what’s around the corner next.
Click here for climate statistics for Australian locations (provided by the Bureau of Meteorology)
Destinations in Tasmania
Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers
Freycinet National Park
Mt Field National Park
Return from Cradle Mountain to Tasmania