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Van-lifers' Delight: Road Trip with a campervan to Cradle Mountain

Updated: May 16

Nestled in the heart of Tasmania, Australia, Cradle Mountain is a destination that calls out to adventure seekers and nature lovers. Its rugged terrain, ancient rainforests, and unique wildlife make it a must-visit location for anyone yearning for a deeper connection with the great outdoors. To truly immerse ourselves in the raw beauty of this region, we embarked on an unforgettable journey to Cradle Mountain by van. In this travel story, we will take you through our incredible adventure, from the awe-inspiring moments in this pristine wilderness to planning and preparation for this trip of a lifetime.


Dove Lake in the evening
Credit: Emilie Ristevski

The Journey


Overland Track, Barn Bluff
Credit: Matty Eaton

As we hit the road, the excitement was palpable. The drive was breathtaking, with rolling hills and lush forests as far as the eye could see. We made occasional stops at local markets, roadside attractions, and picturesque viewpoints, savoring the journey as much as the destination.


Cradle Mountain National Park


Upon reaching the Cradle Mountain National Park, we were greeted by a landscape that felt straight out of a postcard. The park's stunning features include ancient rainforests, pristine lakes, rugged mountains, and an array of unique wildlife. We are going to share our favorite spots and activities to do below or you to enjoy.



Dove Lake


The iconic centerpiece of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. Nestled beneath the jagged peaks of Cradle Mountain, the lake's crystal-clear waters mirror the surrounding wilderness, creating a picture-perfect setting. A walk around Dove Lake on the Dove Lake Circuit is a must for visitors, offering unparalleled views of the mountain and serene moments by the water's edge. The reflections in the lake are particularly captivating, and the circuit provides various opportunities to soak in the scenery, with boardwalks and bridges guiding you through ancient rainforests, open plains, and past boulders smoothed by glacial action.


man posing on still dove lake in Cradle Mountain
Credit: Jason Charles Hill

If you want to capture the perfect reflection of Cradle Mountain in Dove Lake, visit in the early morning when the winds tend to be calmer, creating a mirror-like effect on the lake's surface. This time of day offers stunning photography opportunities and a more tranquil atmosphere to enjoy the beauty of the area


Enchanted Walk


A captivating boardwalk trail that winds through an ancient rainforest, offering a serene and enchanting experience. The lush moss-covered trees, the gentle murmur of nearby streams, and the towering myrtle trees create an atmosphere that feels like a scene from a fairy tale. What sets this walk apart is its accessibility; it's a short, well-maintained stroll suitable for visitors of all ages and fitness levels. Along the way, you'll discover Pencil Pine Falls, a picturesque waterfall, and informative signs that enhance your understanding of the rainforest ecosystem. For photographers, the Enchanted Walk provides ample opportunities to capture the natural beauty of the area. Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll or an introduction to the park's pristine wilderness, the Enchanted Walk is a must-visit attraction within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.


Wildlife Encounters


Cradle Mountain and its surrounding wilderness teem with a diverse array of captivating local wildlife. Visitors to this pristine Tasmanian wilderness can expect to encounter iconic Australian fauna, including the ever-present wombats, wallabies, and pademelons, which often graze amidst the plains and thickets. The elusive Tasmanian devil may make a dramatic appearance during the evening hours, adding to the park's allure.

Echidna in Cradle Mountain
Echidna - Credit: Blake Lisk - Pillar Creative

Echidnas, with their distinctive spiky appearance, can be seen foraging for insects, while native birds, such as Rosellas, currawongs, and kookaburras, provide a symphony of sounds. Additionally, patient observers might glimpse the enigmatic platypus in the streams and rivers. With responsible wildlife viewing practices, visitors can create lasting memories of close encounters with these remarkable creatures, making Cradle Mountain a paradise for nature enthusiasts.


Hiking Trails


man hiking on the overland track in tasmania with a rock formation above his head
Credit: Blake Lisk - Pillar Creative

Cradle Mountain boasts an extensive network of hiking trails that cater to a wide range of skill levels and interests, making it a hiker's paradise. For those seeking an iconic challenge, the Overland Track is a 65-kilometer trek renowned for its breathtaking scenery and multi-day adventure. The Dove Lake Circuit, on the other hand, provides an easy stroll with awe-inspiring views of Cradle Mountain, ideal for leisurely walks and photography enthusiasts. More ambitious hikers can conquer peaks like Marions Lookout, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding wilderness.


aerial photo of Crater Lake, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
Credit: Jason Charles Hill

With each trail, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cradle Mountain's awe-inspiring landscapes, from alpine heaths to temperate rainforests, making it an alluring destination for hiking enthusiasts of all levels.


Planning and Preparation


Before setting off on our Cradle Mountain adventure, we meticulously planned our trip to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some crucial aspects we considered:


Route and Itinerary


The route from Hobart to Cradle Mountain is a picturesque journey that traverses some of Tasmania's most stunning landscapes and charming towns. Beginning in Hobart, the capital city, travelers can enjoy the city's historic and cultural attractions before embarking on their adventure. Leaving Hobart, the journey takes you north on the Brooker Highway, passing through suburbs and smaller towns. Sheffield, known as the "Town of Murals," is a notable stop along the route, offering streets adorned with vibrant, story-telling murals. Deloraine, another delightful town along the way, is celebrated for its craft and arts scene, making it an ideal place to stock up on supplies.

Continuing on the Bass Highway, the route provides breathtaking views of the Tasmanian countryside. As you approach Devonport, a coastal town with maritime heritage, consider exploring its attractions or enjoying a meal with a waterfront view. To reach Cradle Mountain, you'll head inland from Devonport, taking Route C132 towards Sheffield, and then finally making your way to Cradle Mountain on Cradle Mountain Road.


Accommodation


Cradle Mountain and its surrounding area offer a diverse range of accommodation options, catering to the preferences and budgets of all travelers. Whether you seek luxurious comfort, rustic charm, or a closer connection to nature, there's a perfect place to stay. The iconic Cradle Mountain Lodge stands out with its upscale amenities and proximity to the national park, while the historic Waldheim Cabins offer a unique, immersive experience.

gay couple, two mans on a bed at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge - Credit: Dearna Bond

Discovery Parks provides family-friendly options, and Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottages offer secluded, fireside retreats. For those looking to unwind in style, Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is an excellent choice, and Lake St Clair Lodge offers a serene lakeside escape. If you're an outdoor enthusiast, campgrounds in the national park provide a direct link to the wilderness.


Vehicle Rental


For those seeking a more mobile and adventurous experience in the Cradle Mountain region, renting a campervan or motorhome is an excellent choice. Several rental companies in Tasmania provide well-equipped vehicles suitable for exploring the wilderness. These vans typically come with basic kitchen facilities, sleeping areas, and all the necessary camping gear, making them an ideal option for self-sufficient travelers.


women enjoying the views of cradlle mountain from a campervan on the tasmanian roads

Renting a van allows you the freedom to explore the region at your own pace and to camp in various locations, including national park campgrounds. It also provides a more immersive experience, allowing you to be closer to nature, while still enjoying the convenience and comfort of a mobile base camp. Just be sure to book your rental in advance, as these vehicles are in high demand, especially during peak travel seasons. With a campervan, you can traverse the scenic routes leading to Cradle Mountain, making the journey as memorable as the destination itself.


Supplies and Provisions


Sunday Hobart Farm Gate Market
Credit: Tourism Australia

Before embarking on your journey to Cradle Mountain, you should stock up on supplies and provisions in a town like Deloraine, which offers a well-stocked grocery store. Ensure you have enough food, drinking water, and camping essentials, as you may not find many shopping options within the national park. Additionally, consider packing appropriate clothing and gear for changing weather conditions, as the mountainous terrain can experience unpredictable changes in climate. Having a well-prepared supply kit ensures a safe and enjoyable outdoor adventure amid the pristine wilderness of Cradle Mountain.


Our journey to Cradle Mountain by van was a captivating and soul-stirring adventure. The trip offered us the perfect blend of natural beauty, wildlife encounters, and outdoor exploration. We left this pristine wilderness with hearts full of memories and a desire to return to Tasmania's Cradle Mountain. If you're looking for a journey that takes you back to the essence of the great outdoors, this is one destination that should be at the top of your list. Pack your bags, hit the road, and let Cradle Mountain's magic envelop you on a van-powered expedition that you'll cherish for a lifetime.

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