Cradle Mountain Summit
Day hike to Cradle Mountain summit. As someone who enjoys hiking every now and again, I have been spoilt by the choice of hiking spots since arriving in Tasmania.
After my recent walk around the Stanely Nut, I had been looking for something a little more challenging and found out about Cradle Mountain through a friend.
Cradle Mountain is a popular hiking spot and was named in 1827 by explorer Joseph Fossey who thought it bore a remarkable similarity to a gold prospector’s cradle. It’s located in Tassie’s Cental Highlands region and is also the starting point of the Overland Track.
The plan to go was officially finalised like most are, last minute over a game of cards and a few beers on a Friday night. Early Saturday morning we set off.
Cradle Mountain is located around 140 km of Launceston or 80 km from Devonport.
It’s in a relatively remote part of Tasmania so not easy to get there by public transport and driving is the easiest way. We drove from Devonport, which took around 1 hour 20 minutes along country roads.
It’s well signposted and as long as you have a good sense of direction the route is not too hard to find.
For those who wish to bring their car from the mainland, the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry links Melbourne to Devonport. Qantas also fly’s from Melbourne Airport to Devonport Airport daily.
Although further away from Cradle Mountain, Jetstar and Virgin Australia offer cheaper flights from Melbourne to Launceston Airport.
Entering the Park
Cradle Mountain has a few points for starting your hike. Visitors are required to check into the visitor centre and pay a park entrance fee of $16.50 per person. The entry fee includes a return bus ride to any of the park starting points.
The car pass that we purchased for $60 is worth it if you have enough people. It allows entry to any of the national parks in Tasmania at no extra for two months after your visit.
The Parks & Wildlife Service points out that the “weather is notoriously unpredictable – and can change very fast. Walkers can sometimes experience a bit of everything during their Cradle Mountain submit walk. Depending on the time of year there can be sunshine, rain, wind, or snow.
Sometimes all of the above in the same day.
Warmer weather can be found between the month’s of November to April, yet there are cases of snow and sleet in the height of summer. Winter walking should only be attempted by very experienced hikers as winter days are short (Sunrise 8 am / sunset 5 pm) and heavy snow can cover the mountain.
For the latest weather at Cradle Mountain check out the Bureau of Meteorology.
What I Packed
- 30-litre daypack
- 2 litres of water, sports drinks, and Lifestraw backup filter
- Smartphone (Telstra sim card recommended – otherwise no signal!)
- Rain jacket & extra clothing
- Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
- Camera & waterproof pelican case
- Lightweight and comfortable clothing
- Well worn hiking shoes
- Lunch and snacks
If I had to write a summary of the Cradle Mountain submit walk ‘almost perfect’ would be the best description.
From the moment you’re dropped off at the starting point, the track is as forgiving as the landscape is to the eye. The first stages hardly have any incline at all – allowing you to absorb the stunning scenery.
Cradle Mountain, in all her beauty, is one of the kindest mountains I’ve come across. Slowly and steadily increasing the difficulty, allowing time for your body to adjust and build up a good pace.
Then right near the summit, when you are getting close, she unleashes everything almost at once.
This stage is the breaking point, making the best of us start to question where it all went so wrong. Time to dig in and force those tired legs forward and take each oversized boulder one step at a time.
Then just when you’re about to give up, as fast as it all started, it’s finished. You realise you made it to the top, Cradle Mountain summit.
Get the camera out because the views are – wow!
My Thoughts from Cradle Mountain
Not everyone will make it – there were eight members in our group, ranging from the fit, to the not so fit. The last part of the walk (or climb) is just too much for some. Only two of us finally made it all the way to the summit, with all the others stopped within a few hundred meters of the top.
If the group separates be smart and arrange a meeting point on the way down. Remember only Telstra mobile phones have a signal.
Allow extra time – we had some very fast walkers and a very slow one. At the end of the day, the fast walkers can only go as fast as the slowest person in the group. It doesn’t matter how fit you are or how many hikes you’ve got under your belt. How fast is everyone else?
Allow extra time for them.
The weather changes – I witnessed a quite cold morning that made me question if I’d worn enough layers. This was followed by a bright afternoon with no shelter from the harsh sun beating down. When we made it to the summit the weather (in my opinion) was more than ideal, but the temperate varied a lot from the morning to afternoon.
Bring layers and strip down or build up as needed.
Pack plenty of fluid – some of our group did run out. Luckily we did cross a mountain stream.
Allow time to return – focusing so much on the summit you can easily forget the last bus leaves at 6 pm. If you miss it, there’s more extra walking to be done (I’m sure the bus driver said an extra 2 hours) back to the visitor centre car park. Descending from the summit, it became apparent that we would miss the last bus, so I ran back from Kitchens Hut to the bus collection point at Lake Dover road.
After over 8 hours stomping on and over Cradle Mountain, I was destroyed by the time arrived back at 5.55pm – only 5 minutes before the last bus departed.
When I was arriving at bus collection point, three guys were walking in the other direction said: “Oh wow did you run around the lake?” which is at the bottom of Cradle Mountain. Totally out of breath I tried to respond something that probably sounded like gibberish.
At this point more than likely I looked crazy. I certainly felt it, hobbling onto the bus covered stinking and covered in sweat.
After all that running I made the bus back to the visitors centre and then got the car so I could pick the others from the group up.
On the drive back from Cradle Mountain everyone was trading war stories. Some of the group were convinced they would die out there, forever lost to the challenge of cradle mountain summit in a day.
At 1,545 metres (5,069 ft) it’s a hard and challenging day hike for a group. Challenging, but not impossible.
Cradle Mountain Summit Day Hike images taken by Tools of Travel.