Cradle Mountain is, justifiably, one of Tasmania’s most iconic landmarks. The rugged, sweeping curve of the mountain with Dove Lake resting at its feet, and an equally iconic boat shed in the foreground, has photographers and tourists flocking to the shore to take ‘that photo’. According to professional Tasmanian Instagrammer Paul Fleming on his summary of The Ten Most Instagrammed Attractions in Tasmania, Cradle Mountain came in a close second to Mt Wellington.
So how could a Tasmanian native go there and manage to NOT see it? You know what they say about learning from other’s mistakes….
- When booking to stay at Cradle Mountain, be aware that businesses within about a 30km radius like to attach ‘Cradle Mountain’ to their name. Having grown up in the area, even I was caught out by booking a lodge that liberally threw the words ‘Cradle Mountain’ around its description. The picture even looked similar to the hotel at Cradle Mountain. Whilst it was still a perfectly nice place to stay, when you’re trying to impress someone from the ‘mainland’ by showing them Cradle Mountain you don’t want to be thirty kilometres away.
- The roads to get there, whilst paved, can be pretty treacherous. We want you to get there safely, so be warned that Tassie’s roads may not be what you’re used to. I’m talking about signage, or lack thereof. Winter is a perfect time to visit Cradle Mountain, snuggled up in front of an open fire, as snow softly falls all around is picture perfect. However, it also falls on the road to get there. This means that windy, un-marked and precarious roads need to be respected. I didn’t notice it so much, but my mainland companion (who insisted on driving) found it noticeable that you’d be driving along then Bam! A hairpin bend out of nowhere and with no signs to warn you. If you end up down a ravine (thankfully, we didn’t), you won’t get to see the mountain (and the hire car company will be a bit cross too) So, please, drive carefully.
- After the initial hiccup with the accommodation we booked another night at The Cradle Mountain Lodge at Cradle Mountain. When daylight came we made the short drive into the National Park. The great thing about Cradle Mountain is that you can drive right up to the shores of the lake and see her in all her majestic beauty. The mountain, not so much. It was the middle of winter and shrouded in mist! Yep, couldn’t see a thing! So there we stood, by the tannin-stained shore of Dove Lake, light drizzle falling, looking up into pea soup. “It’s over there” I said, and my travelling companion had to take my word for it. The lake on its own however, is spectacular and is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.
So the moral of the story is, don’t put all your proverbial eggs in one basket and expect to see the mountain on the one day that you have designated, nature may have other ideas.
Despite not seeing the mountain, we actually loved our stay at Cradle Mountain. We still got to breath the freshest of fresh air, go on mini bush walks and meet some of the furry locals, have a massage and enjoy the outdoor spa overlooking the free-flowing creek and immerse ourselves in wilderness in the most relaxing of ways.
There’s more than one reason why this area is such a popular spot for visitors. But give yourself the time to get there safely and see it properly. It’s definitely recommended for a weekend or long weekend stay at the very least.