Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

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Introduction

The Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park contains Australia's most famous walk - The Overland Track. For experienced off-track walkers there are also a variety of other trips possible within this park. The Windermere Plains, the Pelion Range, the Du Cane Range, Mt Olympus, the Cheyne Range and the Eldon Range all provide some fine high level walks. There are also some interesting deep gorges to explore on the western side of the park as well. The most popular off-track walks are routes that link to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. This park is located to the east. There are poorly marked tracks on most of these routes and track notes are available to only some of these linking routes.

History

Gustav Weindorfer first visited Cradle Valley in 1910 and fell in love with the place. He purchased some land and by 1912 had built a chalet for guests. Gustav campaigned for a National Park and in 1922 two separate reserves were created at Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair. In 1935 the Overland Track was created and rangers guided tours along it. The track was improved and in 1937 the track was opened to unguided parties opening the way for today's traditional Overland Track walk. The two parks were combined together into one large park in 1947.

In 1982, the park was included into the Western Tasmania World Heritage nomination. This was successful and in 1989, the World Heritage Area was extended. This resulted in a change to the park borders adding a large area of wilderness on the western side and transferring some of the high plateau on the eastern side into the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. The park area remained about the same.

Location

The Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair Park is located almost in the centre of Tasmania. It is directly south of Devonport which is the closest airport to the park. As Tasmania is fairly small, the larger airports at Launceston and Hobart are also popular access points to Tasmania. A highway runs from Devonport past the northern end of the park towards the west coast and Queenstown. The Lyell Highway runs from Hobart to Queenstown and passes close to the southern end of the park.

Access

Both ends of the park are close to major highways and there are daily buses to both ends of the park during summer. There are a variety of services from Hobart, Queenstown, Launceston and Devonport. For the rest of the year, access is still good with services several days a week. For current timetables check the TWT timetables on my external links page.

Track Notes & Maps

The 1:100,000 'Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park' map is published by TASMAP and is excellent. Alternatively there is a series of 1:25,000 maps produced by TASMAP which are also excellent but you need 7 maps in total and they are mainly used by those walking off-track. Track notes are available from several sources, the main guide is Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park by John Chapman and John Siseman. This guide includes more than just the Overland Track covering the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and most routes between the two parks. Notes for the Overland Track only are also available in the special guide Overland TrackBushwalking In Australia and 100 Walks in Tasmania by Tyrone Thomas.

Permits

A general entry permit to a Tasmanian National Park is required. The best value for bushwalkers is the 2 month Backpacker Pass for $30 which provides entry to all national parks. There are no bookings or quotas on numbers of bushwalkers visiting the park. During summer, bookings apply for the Overland Track only and the fee is $200 extra (a general park pass is also required).

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John Chapman, PO Box 5042, Laburnum, 3130, Australia
Photographs and text are copyright 1998-2015 John Chapman.
Last updated : December 7th 2015