Nestled beneath Cradle Mountain within Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Dove Lake is a unique corrie lake formed by ancient glaciation. It’s one of the island’s most famed photographic locations, framed by the jagged spires of Cradle Mountain and with a historic boathouse on its shores.
While Dove Lake can easily be viewed from the adjacent parking area, it’s best explored on the six-kilometre-long Dove Lake circuit walk which follows its perimeter. Wander through Tasmanian deciduous beech, snow gums and pencil pines, together with tussock grass, and witness the unique glacial features in its surrounds. The aptly-named Glacier Rock is one of the walk’s highlights, exhibiting striations caused by rocky debris as the glacier slowly moved down the slopes of Cradle Mountain, carving out the basin in which Dove Lake now sits. A cool temperate rainforest known as the Ballroom Forest lies at the lake’s southern end, home to ancient, moss-covered myrtle beech trees that tower above. The lake’s most iconic feature is without a doubt it’s boatshed which nestles on the northwestern shores. It was built in 1940 from King Billy pine by one of the Cradle Mountain Rangers, Lionel Connell, and remains largely unchanged today.
Dove Lake is accessed from the northern entrance to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park through the town of Sheffield. A private vehicle is the most convenient option, although Cradle Mountain Coaches operates infrequent shuttle buses, mostly catering to bushwalkers hiking the Overland Track.
In the early 20th century, boating on Dove Lake was a popular activity, with the park’s founder Gustav Weindorfer using a raft made from two pine logs and a deck to take visitors on punts across its waters. Huon pine boats were later purchased by the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board for recreational purposes, and it was for these that the boat shed was built.