Launceston to Cradle Mountain
Collect your car from Launceston Airport and head for the wilderness. The drive is half the fun as city changes to countryside then morphs into alpine wilds. There’s some pretty tasty stops along the way as well. Think lattes served with ‘raspberry lust dust’ at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm and cheese tasting where cows in the paddock are just beyond Ashgrove’s tasting room.
Allow a little over two hours for driving time between Launceston and Cradle Mountain. Once you’re on the highway, you’ll soon see the Western Tiers mountain range spilling across to your left. Christmas Hills is a great little lunch stop, serving up a marinated lamb salad drizzled with raspberry balsamic reduction, vegan burgers and dip plates for sharing. Of course, there’s berries high on the dessert menu.
Turn off at Elizabeth Town, or drive a few extra minutes if you’re a cheese enthusiast and drop into Ashgrove. With full tummies, continue on through Sheffield and if the legs need a stretch, wander a town that’s made a name for itself through outdoor murals. If you come across a local with an alpaca in Sheffield, don’t be afraid to strike up a chat. These town folk are a friendly bunch.
Passing through a place named Promised Land, it’s difficult not to stop. Visit Tasmazia and get lost in the Village of Lower Crackpot. From here, your drive will begin to feel more alpine in nature. Try not to leave your arrival too late as local wildlife wander out at dusk. On arrival, drive on through to the Dove Lake carpark for a glimpse of the main attraction – Cradle Mountain.
Book into your Cradle Mountain Hotel accommodation for the next two nights.
Tonight, keep things relaxed and dine onsite at Quoll’s Restaurant, followed by a quiet Tasmanian single malt at Brushtail’s Bar. Your pillow isn’t far away.
Cradle Mountain Exploring
Today is about stepping into the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Make sure you have plenty of layers. Cradle Mountain is the master of sky-blue weather one minute, and a disappearing mountain peak the next. Choose your adventure and hit the trail – whether that be climbing to the trig point atop Cradle (not for the novice walker) or venturing off around Dove Lake.
The Dove Lake Circuit is a six-kilometre sojourn that leads through the Ballroom Forest with its ancient myrtles and continues beneath the crags of Cradle Mountain and Little Horn. It’s relatively flat and is often complemented with a wombat or two. If uphill takes your fancy, stunning views are afforded at the top of Marion’s Lookout.
Alternately, if you are an adventure enthusiast – opt for a three hour canyoning experience with Cradle Mountain Canyons, departing at 8.30am. Zip up a wetsuit and float your way through The Lost World Canyon in the upper reaches of Dove River. Pass through quartzite gorges and alongside buttongrass plains – jumping off rock ledges if you’re game.
Follow up your outdoor exploring with a visit to Waldheim Spa. There’s something invigorating about slipping deep into a hot spa while mountain air nips around your shoulders, a reminder of where you are. Known as The Sanctuary, here you can move between the steam room, sauna, hot tub and plunge pool – all the while keeping an eye on those ancient King Billy pines beyond.
Don’t be late for dinner – the Tasmanian devils at Devils@ Cradle will be ready to dine right at 5.30pm. This rare opportunity to watch locals gather for meal time can be combined with your own plate. That’s right, book early if you’d like a behind the scenes tour followed up by roasted marshmallows beneath the stars and two courses at the Highland Restaurant.
Cradle Mountain to Launceston
Enjoy breakfast at your accommodation before departing for Latrobe, where you can immerse yourself in a heavenly chocolate experience at House of Anvers. Just over an hour’s drive from Cradle Mountain, and housing a Museum of Chocolate, café and tasting centre, you are bound to find many chocolate delights to soothe your senses.
Afterwards continue along to Launceston where the Josef Chromy Wines vineyard sits just outside the city, in Relbia. The á la carte lunch menu is, as one could imagine, complemented with award-winning wines. Take a pew in the 1880s homestead and consider Josef’s early beginnings, leaving his war-torn village in 1950 as a 19-year-old before immigrating to Australia. The countryside vines are a long way from his childhood Czech years.
If there’s time before your flight, drop into the Georgian village of Evandale, right by the airport. Walk the wide streets, home to the annual National Penny Farthing Championships and a saddler’s shop dating back to 1840. While you’re in the neighbourhood, drop into the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company to stock up on tasty mustards, jams and sauces. There’s always room in the outside pocket for a carry-on of handmade goodness.
Availability of experiences in this itinerary may be subject to opening times, seasonal operation or booking requirements, please call ahead to plan each day.
Photo Credit: Tourism Tasmania. All rights reserved @Tourism Tasmania and Nick Osborne, Rob Burnett, Diane and Lindsay Stockbridge, Tim Hughes, Graham Freeman.