Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth … and, unsurprisingly, it is an absolute magnet for scenery-loving grey nomads.
Around one quarter of all the state’s visitors travel to the park … and very few leave disappointed! The 161,000 hectare park – about a 90-minute drive from Devonport – is part of the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage area. The views from the 1,545-metre summit of Cradle Mountain are spectacular but unfortunately the hike there is a strenuous eight-hour rock-scrambling challenge.
Don’t panic though. There’s a lot to see without donning your climbing boots. The view across Dove Lake to the jagged dolerite peaks of Cradle Mountain is unforgettable … or at least it is if it isn’t obscured by cloud and wild weather.
Cradle Mountain is also the starting point of the iconic Overland Track, which offers bushwalkers a 65-kilometre, six-day trek through stunning glacially-carved valleys, ancient rainforests, eucalypt forest, buttongrass moorlands and alpine meadows. The national parks and wildlife service says walkers can also take side-trips to breathtaking waterfalls and mountain summits, including the island state’s highest mountain, the 1,617-metre Mt Ossa.
Of course most grey nomads aren’t ready to strap on the backpack for an arduous six-day adventure, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get up close and personal with the park’s natural wonders. The Crater Lake Circuit walk is a more tempting two hours, the Dove Lake Loop walk takes between one and two hours, and the beautifully named Enchanted Walk takes a mere 20 minutes. At the southern end of the national park where the Overland Track ends is Lake St Clair. This is Australia’s deepest freshwater lake, carved by ice over two million years.
The lake itself is much loved by trout fishermen, and wildlife lovers in general will also be in their element in the relatively undisturbed environment that surrounds it. The area is apparently home to some of the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, including the Tasssie devil, the spotted-tailed quoll and the eastern quoll.
While there are camping options along the route of the Overland Track, and cabins at other locations, this ‘wild’ park isn’t really set up for caravanners and motorhomers. Nonetheless, near the entrance to the northern end of the park there is a Discovery Holiday Park – while, at the southern end, the Lake St Clair Lodge can accommodate medium sized caravans. Be warned also that many of the roads to access national park’s walking tracks are not really suitable for caravan towers or motorhomers.
This is raw, rugged and real … just the way wilderness should