There are heaps of tracks all around Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park. They vary in difficulty and length, ensuring that there is something for everyone. With so much to see – waterfalls, lakes, fairytale forests, button grass plains, mountain ranges and an abundance of wildlife, I would definitely recommend spending a good chunk of time here.
I spent a week exploring the place. This was partially due to the terrible weather, which allowed me just one glimpse of the Cradle Mountain (and not a chance in hell to actually reach the summit). For the rest of the time, its craggy peaks were hidden behind thick cloud. I had to endure hiking in torrential rain, however this was all part of the fun.
In no particular order, here are my favourite walks around Cradle Mountain:
Ronny Creek is one of my favourite spots around Cradle Mountain. I used it as a starting (and sometimes finishing) point for each walk I completed. The boardwalk takes you over bright green button grass moorland surrounded by mountains. During my short time there, I witnessed the landscape change dramatically.
Over the course of a week, the weather fluctuated between bright, sunny days and trickling streams, to torrential rain, hail and gale force winds, which caused raging torrents of water to flood the area. I even got my first glimpse of snow in a long time, high up on the surrounding mountains.
It’s an interesting place and I absolutely loved seeing it flooded. There was something mesmerising about watching the water rush past right underneath me. You are almost guaranteed to see wombats around this area because they are quite used to humans.
One particular day after a long, wet hike up to Crater Lake, I decided to walk back via Ronny Creek to see if I could catch sight of any more wombats. As I trudged along the boardwalk, squelching in my soggy boots, I just so happened to glance down into one of the fast flowing streams. There, looking back up at me, was a platypus!
I stopped dead in disbelief. For a good 10 minutes, I watched it swim around, forage for food and burrow into the grass and pop up elsewhere. It swam right next to my feet, completely unfazed by my presence. I felt like the luckiest person alive in that moment and when it finally disappeared out of sight, I continued to have the stupidest grin on my face for the next two days!
The tracks around the park all link up, so depending on how far you want to walk, you can pretty much reach anywhere from Ronny Creek. I started here when walking to Dove Lake, Crater Lake and Marions Lookout. Ronny Creek is also less touristy than Dove Lake, so catching the bus here was always easier and quieter.
Dove Lake Circuit
You can catch the bus directly to Dove Lake, but with most people having the same idea. I chose to walk from Ronny Creek (it only adds on about an hour of walking time and you are very likely to see wombats here).
Dove Lake is beautiful and on a good day, Cradle Mountain stands proudly behind in all its glory. Being there in winter, I only actually saw the full mountain on one day. The walk around the lake can be done in under two hours. Most people walk it in a clockwise direction, however, coming from Ronny Creek, I went anti-clockwise, seeing the iconic boat shed first.
There are a few uphill sections, but most of the track is boardwalk. Along the walk, the highlights for me were the magnificent waterfalls cascading down the mountain side and the Ballroom Forest, which feels like you are entering a fairytale.
This walk is hugely popular with tourists and having been spoilt with so many deserted spots around Tasmania, I felt glad to be walking in off-peak season (I imagine summer to be horrendously busy).
Weindorfers Forest Walk
Don’t forget to squeeze this short little walk into your itinerary. It can be reached via Ronny Creek in a 10 minute detour and takes you through some beautiful moss-coated rainforest.
Crater Lake Circuit
I actually walked this route twice in a week. Once in the torrential rain with zero visibility of the surrounding mountains and once on a beautifully sunny day.
On the rainy day, the track had turned into a stream in places, making it a hard old slog, especially on the steep rocky sections. After climbing for a while, I reached the forest and followed the frothy waters up to Crater Falls, which was violently raging away in a loud, white, misty haze.
In contrast, on the fine day, the path was just a little damp in some sections. The temporary streams had ceased and Crater Falls had calmed slightly.
The surrounding mountains reflect perfectly in Crater Lake on a clear day. There were no sounds except the distant roar of a waterfall and the pathway around the lake was littered with the remains of fagus, making a pretty yellowy-brown blanket.
The walk eventually comes up to an intersection, where you can carry on to Marions Lookout or down past Wombat Pool, joining back onto the Ronny Creek/Dove Lake track.
Marions Lookout is absolutely worth the ridiculously taxing climb. At the junction coming from Crater Lake, turn right. The short, steep track will reward you with the most glorious views of Crater Lake, Dove Lake; heck, all the lakes! Plus Cradle Mountain and a panoramic view of distant mountain ranges, as far as the eye can see.
To get there, you really do have to climb. With that in mind, wear proper shoes and avoid attempting the walk in high winds.
For more walks in Tasmania, check out my blog post, Walks in Tasmania – Tried and Tested. Alternatively, you can visit the Discover Tasmania website for detailed information on visiting Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park.