“Are you crazy?” asked our bus driver. She was dropping us to the starting point of our hike, Ronny’s Creek at 2 PM. Before asking this question, she had informed us that the hike was a full day hike of 14 kilometers and it was a hot day, so starting the hike at 8 AM was ideal during hot days. We were adamant and we had to hike. The purpose of our Tasmanian trip was to hike the Cradle mountain.
About Cradle Mountain
Cradle mountain is the starting point of the world famous Overland trek (which is the 6 days trek). And the mountain, with a height of 1545 metres, is in the Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park. There are plenty of hikes and treks in the national park. Note the national park is abundant with wildlife (Tasmanian devils) and offers spectacular views.
The best time to visit Cradle mountain is during the spring, summer and autumn seasons (between the months of November and March).
How to get to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park?
The best way to reach the national park is by driving. My friends and I had driven along the north coast of Tasmania from Launceston. The distance from Launceston and Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park is 150 kilometres and takes around 2 hours to drive.
Unfortunately, getting to the national park on a public transportation is not that easy. However, there is a bus that is operated by Tassielink Bus company that runs buses between Launceston and the national park. The buses are available only on certain days like Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The other option is to take a bus from Launceston to Mole Creek and then to hire a taxi. This is the most expensive option.
Hiking the Cradle Mountain
Hiking the Cradle mountain was amazing and till date remains as one of my favourite hikes in Australia. My friends and I did the summit hike, which is known as Ronny Creek to Cradle Mountain Summit. The starting point was Ronny Creek and there are shuttles that run between the visitor centre and Ronny creek. The finishing point is Dove lake and again there are shuttles that run between the Dove lake and visitor centre.
We were supposed to get back to Ronny’s creek as this was a circuit but we missed the trail and ended up at Dove lake.
There is an entry ticket (from AUD 25 per adult) to enter the national park and use the bus shuttle. The buses run between 9 AM and 5 PM during the winter season and 9 AM and 6 PM during the summer season.
It is advisable to start the hike early so one can take the shuttle back to the visitor centre on time. The shuttle buses stop at 6 PM. If you miss the last bus, one may need to walk around 15 kilometres.
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Logistics (Cradle Mountain summit hike)
Below is the logistics of hiking to the Cradle mountain summit.
- Starting point: Ronny’s Creek.
- Finishing point: Dove lake.
- Total distance: 14.9 kilometres.
- Total time: 6 to 7 hours.
- Grade: Moderate except the last part which is very hard.
- Cost: A valid permit is required by visitors and this can be bought at the visitor centre. The exact and up to date price can be found on the Tasmania Parks website.
The other way to summit the Cradle mountain is through the steep track to Marions Lookout from Dove lake. The track is very steep and hard.
As I mentioned in the beginning, my friends and I started the hike at around 2 PM from Ronny’s creek. The walk was very exciting and adventurous. We had a great time admiring the scenery and clicking lots of pictures. But by the time we reached and finished the hike at Dove lake, it was very dark and we had missed the last shuttle.
Even though we were tired, we had no other option but to walk back to the visitor centre which was about 15 kilometres. As we were four of us, we cheered each other up and started walking under the dark sky on the road. The road seemed never ending and to add to our misery, the torches that we were using on our phones were dying out too.
After walking around 3 more kilometres from the lake, we saw a car approaching. The car was going towards the visitor centre. We decided to try our luck and ask for a lift. Inside the car was a couple whom we had met at the peak of the Cradle mountain. They had finished the hike and were heading back to their hotel. Luckily for us, they were very kind and agreed to give us a lift to the visitor centre. If not for them, we would have had to walk back the entire night for around 15 kilometres. I am sure that would have made hell of another story now but would have been very painful back then when we did the hike.
Cradle mountain is stunning. Even if one does not want to hike the 14 kilometres, is till suggest visiting the national park and hiking some of the short trails. The information of these trains can be found at the visitor centre. The national park is truly a heaven on earth as it is that beautiful and pretty.
Have you hiked the Cradle mountain? Let me know your experience below in the comments.