Cradle Mountain is Tasmania’s most visited national park, located on the western side of the island state. The complete opposite of Tassie’s eastern beaches and towns, the west receives about 300 days of rain; my day trip to Cradle Mountain was during one of its many rainy days. As with most mountainous regions, there is a tendency for rapid changes in temperature and weather conditions. While it rained on and off for the entire day, the weather shifted from cold and windy to sunny and warm multiple times. I was unprepared for the dramatic weather shifts and was grateful my tour company brought extra jackets to use.
Cradle Mountain is a protected park with rolling hills golden in color, deep valleys, silky smooth lakes, and rugged mountain peaks. The park features several hikes and walks of varying difficulty levels. Cradle Mountain is also the start to Tassie’s famous Overland Track, a 6-8 day hike that has become a rite of passage for experienced hikers. Cradle Mountain is home to unique wildlife, including my new favorite animal, the wombat. Unfortunately I didn’t see one on this day trip but have heard they’re incredibly friendly, even in the wild, allowing many visitors to pat them as if they were a pet.
My tour took our group into the heart of the park with the option to take the walking track around Dove Lake or complete the moderately challenging hike up to Marion’s lookout. Guess which one I selected… The hike was a climb of 1,200m up to a beautiful lookout over the mountains, lakes, and valleys. The trail proved to be difficult at times, with some steeper areas being lined with a chain to grab hold while climbing up and down the mountain. Well worth the view and feeling of success, the hike took about 2 hours in the rain, wind and occasional rays of sun to complete.
I wish I had more time in the park to traverse the other hiking trails and explore the mountains; one of the downsides to booking a day tour. Cradle Mountain is a must-see for any Tassie traveler offering glorious views, hiking adventures, and historic stories about the people who made the park what it is today.