The best-known hiking trail in Australia is the Overland Track ★★, a 65km (40-mile) route between Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair. The trek takes 6 to 10 days and can be tough going in some parts. The trek gives you a good look at the beauty of Tasmania’s pristine wilderness, passing through high alpine plateaus, button grass plains, heathland, and rainforests, studded with glacial lakes, ice-carved crags, and waterfalls. There are many rewarding side trips, including the 1-day ascent of Mount Ossa (1,617m/5,304 ft.), Tasmania’s highest peak.
During the peak (summer) season (Nov 1-Apr 30), you must pay a National Parks fee of A$150 adults or A$120 children 5 to 17, as well as the normal park entry fee. Every day during this period, up to 200 people start the walk, and in these months you must also book to walk the Overland Track at www. over landtrack. com. au. Simple public huts (on a first-come, first-served basis) and camping areas are available along the track. You may only walk in one direction, Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair.
Several companies offer guided walks. They include Tasmanian Expeditions (& 1300/666 856 in Australia, or 03/6339 3999; www. tas-ex. com), which offers a 8-day trek departing from Launceston. The price is A$1,995, all- inclusive. Another trip, a 6-day Cradle Mountain and Walls of Jerusalem National Park trip, includes 3 nights camping and 2 nights in a cabin. It costs A$1,450. Cradle Mountain Huts (& 03/6331 2006; www. cradlehuts. com. au) runs a 6-day walk costing between A$2,550 and A$2,750, depending on the season; rates are all-inclusive and include transfers to and from Launceston. Children under 12 are not permitted. The huts are fully equipped and heated, with showers, a main living area, and a full kitchen. A three-course meal is provided every night.
724 Maxwells Cradle Mountain—Lake St. Clair Charter Bus and Taxi Service (& 03/ 6492 1431) runs buses from Devonport and Launceston to Cradle Mountain. The fare starts at A$35. The buses also travel to other areas nearby, such as the Walls of Jerusalem as well as Lake St. Clair. Buses also run from the Cradle Mountain campground to the start of the Overland Track.
Motorists enter the park off the Lyall Highway from Hobart, via Deloraine or Poatina from Launceston, and via Sheffield or Wilmot from Devonport. Both Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair are well signposted.
VISITOR INFORMATION The park headquarters, the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre (& 03/6492 1100; www. parks. tas. gov. au), on the northern edge of the park outside Cradle Mountain Lodge, offers the best information on walks and treks. It’s open daily 8am to 5pm (6pm in summer).
Cradle Mountain Lodge (see “Where to Stay & Dine,” below) runs a daily program of
guided walks, abseiling (rappelling), rock-climbing, and trout-fishing for lodge guests. The park has plenty of trails that can be attempted by people equipped with directions
S from the staff at the park headquarters (see “Visitor Information,” above). Be warned,
< though, that the weather changes quickly in the high country; go prepared with wet – weather gear and always tell someone where you are headed. Of the shorter walks, the stroll to Pencil Pines and the 5km (3-mile) walk to Dove Lake are the most pleasant.
< Cradle Mountain Lodge ★★ If you like luxury with your rainforests, then this
u award-winning lodge is the place for you. Cradle Mountain Lodge is marvelous. Just
minutes from your bed are giant buttresses of 1,500-year-old trees, moss forests, mountain ridges, limpid pools and lakes, and hordes of scampering marsupials. The cabins are
< comfortable, the food excellent, the staff friendly, and the open fireplaces well worth cuddling up in front of for a couple of days. Each modern wood cabin has a potbellied stove as well as an electric heater for chilly evenings, a shower, and a small kitchen. There are no telephones or TVs in the rooms—but there is a TV lounge, public phone, and Internet access in the casual, comfortable main lodge, if you really need them. For a bit of pampering after all your outdoor activity, head to the Waldheim Alpine Spa for massage and other treatments.
G. P.O. Box 3589, Sydney, NSW 2001. & 1300/134 044 in Australia, or 02/8296 8010 (Sydney booking office), or 0800/700 715 in New Zealand. Fax 02/9299 2103. www. cradlemountainlodge. com. au. 96 units. A$300 Pencil Pine cabin double; A$374 spa cabin double; A$460-A$750 suite. Extra person A$62. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s room. Rates include breakfast. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Cafe; 2 bars; spa. In room: CD player (except Pencil Pine cabins), kitchenette, no phone.
Waldheim Cabins For a real wilderness experience, head to these cabins run by the Parks and Wildlife Service, located 5km (3 miles) from Cradle Mountain Lodge. Nestled between button grass plains and temperate rainforest, they are simple and affordable and offer good access to plenty of walking tracks. Each heated cabin has single bunk beds, basic cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery, and a gas stove. Each accommodates four or eight people; if your party is smaller, you won’t have to share with strangers. Two outbuildings with sanitary facilities (composting toilets and showers) serve all the cabins. Generated power is provided for lighting between 6 and 11pm only. Stores and fuel can
be bought at Cradle Mountain Lodge. Bring your own bed linen or hire it. Guests can 725 pick up keys from the National Park Visitor Centre, just inside the national park, daily between 8am and 5:30pm.
Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, P. O. Box 20, Sheffield, TAS 7306. & 03/6492 1110. Fax 03/6492 1120. www. parks. tas. gov. au. 8 cabins. Cabin A$85 for 2 adults; A$25 for each additional adult; A$10 for each additional child 5-17. Linen A$7.50 per person. MC, V. In room: No phone.None found.