Cradle Mountain in Tasmania: complete travel guide

Visiting Cradle Mountain National Park is one of the best things to do in Tasmania! This UNESCO park is synonymous with nature, wilderness and all things pristine. Here you will find numerous hiking trails for every level of ability, beautiful scenery such as the famous Dove Lake and lots of wildlife such as wombats, wallabies and with some luck even the Tasmanian devil. This travel guide tells you everything you need to know before visiting Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. How to get there, where to stay and the most beautiful hikes. Be blown away by the beautiful nature of Tasmania!

Where is Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is officially part of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Louis. Clair National Park and is located in the north of the island of Tasmania. This island belongs to Australia and is located south of the country in the Indian Ocean. Many travelers going to Australia often skip Tasmania because of accessibility, but this is one destination you absolutely cannot miss! Tasmania has beautiful nature and tremendous wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else in Australia. The UNESCO park Cradle Mountain is a fine example.

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How to visit Cradle Mountain National Park

So those who want to visit Cradle Mountain National Park must be in Tasmania. Tasmania can be reached in two ways: by plane or boat. From Australia’s larger airports such as Sydney or Melbourne , fly directly to the capital city of Hobart. The best way to explore Tasmania is to travel around in a campervan or car. You can pick that up in Hobart and then drive another 4 hours towards Cradle Mountain National Park. A second option is to take the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport. This 10-hour cruise allows you to bring your own transportation from mainland Australia. From Devonport, it is another 1-hour drive toward Cradle Mountain.

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Parks pass shuttle buses

As with all national parks in Tasmania, you must have a valid entry pass to visit Cradle Mountain National Park. If you are going to visit multiple national parks in Tasmania then it is best to buy the Holiday Pass. It costs $89.50 AUD per vehicle and is valid for 2 months. For Cradle Mountain National Park, you also need to buy a shuttle bus ticket of $15 AUD per person that allows you to use the buses for 72 hours. If you only plan to visit Cradle Mountain National Park, then the purchase of an Iconic Daily Pass is sufficient. This costs $27.95 AUD and the shuttle bus is included here. You buy the passes at the visitor center.

Cradle Mountain visitor center opening hours: daily from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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At the base of Cradle Mountain is the iconic Dove Lake and is where most of the hikes start. Dove Lake can be reached by using the shuttle buses in the park. These buses run every 15 minutes daily between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. in summer and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in winter. The bus makes several stops in the park where you can hop on and off. Driving yourself to Dove Lake only goes when the buses are not running, from evening to early morning that is. There is parking at Dove Lake and Ronny Creek where you can park.

TRAVEL TIP: Be sure to drive up to Dove Lake at sunrise or sunset on a clear day. When it gets dark, you have a fantastic view of the Milky Way over the mountains. Be careful when driving for the many animals that become more active during twilight!

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Best things to do in Cradle Mountain

In Cradle Mountain National Park, nature lovers can have a blast! To visit Cradle Mountain National Park, we recommend staying here for at least 2 days . Besides the many beautiful hikes, it is also the ultimate place to spot wildlife and you certainly won’t get bored.

1) Admire the iconic Dove Lake

Dove Lake is one of the most iconic places in Tasmania and undoubtedly one of the most photographed. The lake is world famous for the rustic boathouse located on the waterfront that is overshadowed by Cradle Mountain. Especially at night when the sun sets, this is a spectacle to behold, with the reflections of the mountain in the water. The boathouse can be reached after a 10-minute walk via an easy path along the water. If you have time, be sure to do the full Dove Lake Circuit hike where you hike around the lake in 3 hours. If you can only do one hike in Cradle Mountain National Park, it’s this one!

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2) Hike one of the spectacular hikes

Hopefully you will have more time in Cradle Mountain, as there are plenty of other wonderful hikes to do in the park. The choices are many, but these are the most popular hikes (from light to heavy) that are definitely worthwhile:

  • Enchanted Walk (20 min): fun to do with kids, where you walk through the rainforest along a stream and no doubt encounter a wallaby or wombat.
  • Crater Lake Circuit (2-3h): this hike takes you past waterfalls, lakes such as the Wombat Pool and beautiful forests.
  • Marrions Lookout (3h): a tough hike where you climb a lot in a short time. The reward is great, because here you have a great view of Dove Lake.
  • Hansons Peak (3h): the most underrated hike in the park. You have a view across Dove Lake opposite Marrions Lookout, and perhaps an even nicer view.
  • Cradle Mountain Summit (5-8h): a tough and longer hike that requires a lot of climbing at the end, but where you get a 360° view of the park. A good level of fitness is required though!
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3) Spot wombats at Ronny Creek

Wombats; after visiting Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania, you’ll love them as much as we do! These cute marsupials are found only in southeastern Australia and Tasmania. The greatest chance of seeing them is at Cradle Mountain, and more specifically near Ronny Creek. Here starts the Cradle Valley Board Walk, another fun 5.5 km hike to do where you walk along a wooden boardwalk among the trees and open plains. At Ronny Creek Parking you have a large, open grassy area. As of late afternoon, you have a good chance of seeing wombats grazing here.

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4) Meet the Tasmanian devil

The Tasmanian Devil is Tasmania’s icon and this is the only place in the world where you can see them. Unfortunately, the animal is in danger of extinction due to an infectious disease and the chances of seeing one in the wild are very slim. If you would still like to see them, you can go to the Devils@Cradle nature reserve go. This nature preserve seeks to protect the Tasmanian devil (and other animals) from extinction. We recommend taking the “After Dark Feeding Tour,” as these are nocturnal animals and you can see them in action during this tour.

5) Tutoring in the interpretation center

Inside the national park you will find the Cradle Mountain Interpretation Center. This small-scale center offers visitors additional information about the park and its animals. It’s not very big, but a nice stopover if you’re in the area. Admission is free and also from here you can start the Cradle Valley Boardwalk toward Ronny Creek.

Opening hours Cradle Mountain Interpretation Centre: daily from 07h – 16h | price: free of charge

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6) Challenge yourself with the Overland Track

If you really want to do something unique in Tasmania and challenge yourself, the Overland Track is for you. This 6-day trek takes you deep into the national park and into places where day tourists do not go. You start at Dove Lake and end at Lake St Clair. Along the way, you will sleep in provided places where you can pitch your tent and simple toilets are available. This trek is only for experienced hikers and you must also apply for a permit in time. You can find all the information on Parks Tasmania‘s official website.

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Where to stay in Cradle Mountain

If you travel around by car in Tasmania, you can find plenty of cozy hotels and lodges around Cradle Mountain National Park. Whether the weather is good or bad, this makes a visit to the UNESCO park even more memorable!

Some of the best hotels in or near the park:

If, like us, you travel around in an RV, there is less choice of where to stay. The closest campground in Cradle Mountain National Park is Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain where you also have cottages but this is what you pay for. A cheaper alternative is Cradle Mountain Fishery Campground but this is a 15-minute drive from the park. Wild camping in the park is strongly discouraged. Rangers patrol regularly and you don’t want to end up with a $130 AUD fine during your visit to Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania.

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Best time to visit

Summer in Australia runs from November through March, making this the best time to visit Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. However, the area is known to be very erratic, and even in high summer it can be cold and wet. It is therefore alpine terrain, but certainly don’t let this stop you! As with all hiking in the mountains, it is best to dress in layers. At the visitor center you can inquire which hikes you can do during your visit depending on weather conditions.

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Do you have any questions about Cradle Mountain National Park or have you been there yourself? Let us know in a comment below! Looking for more information about your next trip? Please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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