For any family venturing south to Tasmania, it is likely you’ve already highlighted Cradle Mountain on your itinerary.
Tourists to Tasmania flock to Cradle Mountain and its surrounds for stunning scenery, great walking tracks and wildlife encounters.
Whether you’re travelling with toddlers or teenagers, you will love the crisp air of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to go.
One must-visit at Cradle Mountain is the Cradle Mountain Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary. The sanctuary has keeper tours, feeding tours and night tours. If you can’t make a tour, the visitor centre offers a great chance to learn about the history and development of the Cradle Mountain area.
Head to Cradle Mountain Lodge Tavern for a great meal in a relaxed, kid-friendly setting. When it is wet and cold outside, so the toasty fireplace and delicious burgers at the Tavern hit the spot.
Frequent shuttle buses run out to Cradle Mountain where you can hike and explore the mountain. You should also visit Dove Lake, and perhaps stop for a picnic and a photo at the picturesque Boat Shed.
On the other end of the Overland Track across the range, you’ll find the vast Lake St. Clair, which also has a great Visitor’s Centre and can be explored by ferry.
You’ve probably heard of Cradle’s renowned six-day hike known as the Overland Track. If you’re travelling with pint-sized bushwalkers, then there are plenty of shorter alternatives suited to little legs. Starting at the Visitor Centre, the Rainforest Walk lasts ten to twenty minutes and is ideal for toddlers and young kids, as is the Enchanted Walk with its engaging information about local flora and fauna.
For primary schoolers and above, take the Dove Lake track which circumnavigates the deep, blue waters. It has a few (but not many) short steep sections and will take a couple of hours, but is more than manageable for willing walkers.
Last but definitely not least, I would urge experienced teenage families to embark on one of my favourite overnight hikes of all time. Each of the six days of the Overland Track, starting at Cradle Mountain and ending at Lake St. Clair, offers up extraordinarily diverse scenery.
At the end of each day there are basic huts to dry off in or even sleep in, plenty of camp spots and taps to fill up with water. The sheer number of walkers means the track is well maintained, but you will have to pre-book and pay for your position as rangers stagger walkers commencing the track to keep the flow moving.
I recommend having a couple of overnight hikes under your belt before trying this one as you’ll want to know your way around the equipment before you go. I was about 15 when I walked the Overland in a fairly big group with my Dad (who has done loads of hiking) and 12 year old brother, and had conquered several three-day or four-day walks in the Blue Mountains and Snowy Mountains beforehand.
If you’re experienced and game, I would definitely recommend that you choose the camp spots and huts along the Overland as your accommodation.
Otherwise, there are some excellent family options that will offer you just as much of an immersion into the Tasmanian bushland. Camp, caravan or cabin at the Big4 Holiday Park, rent a Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottage, or stay in the beautiful and kid-friendly Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village.
Cradle Mountain, stunning as it is, is not the only magical mountain in Tasmania. The natural formation of Launceston’s Cataract Gorge also makes for a great day out, be it on foot, in the air on a chairlift, or in the water for a quick dip.
Here you will find lovely gardens, resident peacocks, toilet and change facilities and a kiosk selling tea and scones. Take a walk on the cliffside and across the suspension bridge for awesome views over the gorge, before enjoying the sun on the rocks and a paddle in the gorge’s basin or in the nearby swimming pool.
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