Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Words and photos: Max Blackmore
Cradle Mountain is easily one of Australia's most breathtaking summits, both to look at and to climb. It’s situated three hours off the very well travelled Overland Track in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, and it’s quite a surreal place – this massive mountain jutting out of the grass, with this serene wooden path through it.
To get the most out of a day trip up to Cradle Mountain, start at the Ronny Creek car park. From there you can walk along the boardwalk that is also one of the starting points of the Overland Track.
The beginning is pretty mellow, but once the climb starts you will feel the burn in your calves. You might feel like a bit of a slack arse when you see the Overlanders with their massive six-day packs strapped to their backs streaming up the hill, but who’s judging.
After the first climb, the view changes dramatically and you can see just how impressive the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair area is. Plus, you get your first glimpse of the Cradle. The track opens up along the ridge as you make your way up to Kitchen Hut at the base of the summit.
Don’t mind the pile of backpacks waiting for their owners to return from the summit – just continue along the Overland. Unlike the relative ease of the initial climb, the trek up to the summit is way more interesting and adrenaline-raising. You’ll spend a lot of time pulling yourself up and over rocks and boulders, only to be at the base of another series of rocks and boulders, occasionally getting a view of the lakes, rivers and plateaus below. Because we are true mountaineers, we took up a light lunch of mountain bread and whisky to chow on as we looked out “over“ the “land”. (Get it?)
On our descent, rather than retracing our footsteps we decided to take the Face Track, which takes you along the base of the Cradle and down a chain-guided rail towards Dove Lake. It’s quite a steep descent, but offers a different view over the countryside. You scramble down stony paths until you get to the forest-y edge of the lake where you can hear the shrieks of canoeing families splashing each other with freezing water. Then you walk along, spotting echidnas, dodging tourist groups and selfie sticks by the edge of Dove Lake.
At Dove Lake you can say “See you later” to Cradle Mountain, and jump on a free shuttle bus back down to Ronny Creek.
This post originally appeared in a slightly different form over on Left Foot Right Foot, a repository of ultra-casual walking guides for Australia and the world. In addition to their nice-looking website, they're also on Facebook and Instagram, if they're more your bag.
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