Located in Tasmania’s Central Highlands region, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is one of the island’s premier natural destinations. It’s home to the world renowned Overland Track, together with numerous other short walks that take in Dove Lake in the north and Lake St Clair in the south.
Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park is famed for its pristine alpine wilderness and glacial-carved lakes, together with breathtaking views of its rugged mountain peaks. The northern entrance to the park accesses magnificent Dove Lake which nestles at the base of Cradle Mountain itself and is easily explored along the Dove Lake circuit walk. The multi-day Overland Track, one of Australia’s most renowned, departs from Waldheim Chalet in the north of the park, passing through an ancient temperate rainforest to Crater Lake and towering Barn Bluff. Mount Pelion, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa provide a spectacular backdrop throughout the trek, ending at glacial-carved Lake St Clair at the southern end of the park. The southern entrance can also be accessed by vehicle through the settlement of Derwent Park, with scenic walks around the lake passing through diverse vegetation that includes waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods. A luxury boutique hotel has recently opened within the old pumphouse station which hangs out over the lake, while there are cabins in the north of the park with basic facilities, as well as the more upmarket Cradle Mountain Lodge.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park can either be accessed from the north via the town of Sheffield or from the south through Derwent Bridge on the Lyell Highway. Most opt to visit by private vehicle, but there are shuttle services offered by Cradle Mountain Coaches, conveniently timed to pick-up and drop-off bushwalkers along the Overland Track.
It was Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer and his Taswegian wife Kate Cowle who were the founders of what would become Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, having fallen in love with its landscapes on a plant-finding expedition in 1909. They purchased much of the land and built a chalet from King Billy Pine which was named Waldheim, or ‘forest home’, and Gustav worked as the park ranger while lobbying for its national park status, which finally came in 1921.