There's Something About Cradle
As your breath hangs suspended in the cool crisp air, you can feel the warmth of the midday sun turning your cheeks a rosy red; it's winter and the snow-dusted wilderness of Cradle Mountain is coming alive in a kaleidoscope of colour and light.
Summer may be when most people visit, but those who come in winter are in for a magical treat. Shuttle buses run frequently from the visitor centre to Dove Lake, leaving you to relax and enjoy the view. The wombats aren't put off by the cold – in fact spotting them in the white snow can be easier than in summer grasses.
Wombat in snow / Paul Fleming
those who come in winter are in for a magical treat
Rug up, and step outside – there's no better way to experience a winter wonderland than to feel the crunch of fresh snow under your feet and throw a snowball at an unsuspecting loved one. The Dove Lake Circuit track follows the lake's edge for 5.7 km (2-3 hr) and provides some of the most awe-inspiring views of Cradle Mountain and the surrounding peaks. While most of the walk is sheltered, parts are open and exposed to the elements so be prepared for all weather conditions and take plenty of water and food. The Crater Lake and King Billy walks are also worth a wander.
Taking a stroll on the Enchanted Walk, behind Cradle Mountain Lodge, is a beautiful introduction to the park's secrets. Twisted, and gnarled, ancient myrtles provide homes for countless creatures. From the bridge at the half-way point, you'll find yourself mesmerized by the dark waters swirling through the frosted banks held in place by roots older than we can imagine.
Enchanted Walk, Cradle Mountain / Paul Fleming
Winter also means waterfalls, and within the visitor area you'll find Pencil Pine and Knyvet Falls, as well at many cascades along the creeks and rivers.
For the adventurous, the Overland Track in winter is one of Australia's greatest outdoor experiences. Whether you do the six-day walk self-guided or on a tour, you'll need to prepare for all conditions – but it's well worth it.
Let's be honest, you've come to Tasmania and what you really want to see is some of our unique wildlife. Cradle Mountain is regarded as one of the best places to see our marsupials in the wild, even in winter. Tread softly, walk quietly, have some patience, and you'll soon find yourself in the presence of a wombat, wallaby, pademelon or potoroo. At night, you'll likely see possums but also keep a keen eye out for a quoll or the elusive Tassie devil.
Walking in snow at Cradle Mountain / Paul Fleming
Cradle Mountain is regarded as one of the best places to see our marsupials in the wild, even in winter
Take a wander on the easy boardwalk from Ronney Creek along Cradle Valley; this is wombat central, even in winter. Look for their paw prints or look for exposed grassy tussocks – the wombats are searching for the same thing though they want to eat it, not just admire it!
Wombats are cute, but what you really want to see are Tasmanian devils and there is a chance you'll see one in the wild at Cradle Mountain – it's pure luck if you do. To remove the risk, you can get up close to these incredible animals at Devils @ Cradle, a breeding and rehabilitation centre.
For the ultimate view of Cradle Mountain, rise above the snowdrifts with Cradle Mountain Helicopters and marvel at nature's artistry from above. There are plenty of indoor experiences too – head to Cradle Mountain Hotel and their inspirational Wilderness Gallery. And if you're in need of pampering – and who isn't – then the Waldheim Alpine Spa can soak your worries away while you gaze out at the natural beauty of Tasmania's wilderness.
Header image credit Paul Fleming