Photographs from Tasmania Part V: Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park

Part five of the series featuring photographs from a journey across the island of Tasmania.

Tasmania’s most famous landscape and one of the worlds most precious World Heritage Sites, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in the very heart of the island sends you to a journey back into prehistoric times.

Cradle Road

Cradle valley

The national park starts little more than an hour’s drive from the northern coastal towns of Burnie or Launceston. Gradually, the road goes higher, the weather colder and more rugged. The wind grows stronger and, for Tasmanias already cold standards, even frostier. Even in the height of summer, the weather in the Tasmanian highlands can be unforgiving and unpredictable. It was here where some of the last Tasmanian devils were spotted, some 80 years ago. And it was this gorgeous landscape which I always wanted to experience. Now, finally, I was here, and the feeling was incredible.The terrain, as you follow the ascending road, takes a very drastic change: otherwordly, prehistoric vegetation takes over the hills and valleys. Here, flora going back to the supercontinent of Gondwana, some 100 million years ago and only possible due to Tasmania’s isolated geographical location, makes it feel like a place from Jurassic Park.
Pandani trees, Richea pandanifolia, very distinctive and bizarre palm-like plants that can grow meters in size, alpine coral-fern, Gleichenia alpina, which resembles beautiful and vulnerable corals, and Buttongrass, Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus, shrubs growing in peaty moors are largely responsible for the unique looks of the landscape.

The Great Overland Track

Black Currawong

Pandani Trees

Cradle Mountain Nat. Park

So fragile and unique is this area, that visitors are preferably transferred into the national park using a (free) shuttle bus in order to protect it from excess pollution from private cars. Walks are officially only permitted on boardwalks, and further above on designated rocky paths, in order to protect the rare plants that are in many cases only found here and nowhere else. Furthermore, all visitors are requested to leave nothing behind – not even human waste.
Also, it is at Cradle Mountain National Park where one of the world’s bucket list walks, the Overland Track commences southward to its other end at Lake St. Clair. A six day journey through the heart of Tasmania and an unforgettably unique scenery full of precious wildlife is the perfect escapist adventure. Even for those who only want a taste of the full experience, a few hours along the Overland Track will already prove magical. A walk up to Wombat Peak at 741m above sea level reveals the small Wombat Pool, a water hole shining in mysterious red colours, and the beautiful diptych of Lake Lilla and Dove Lake. The descent down to the latter finally displays magnificent Cradle Mountain. Peaking at 1545m, it is a dolorite rock which was, just like the lakes below, formed during the glacial ages. It takes the whole landscape to another level.

Wombat Pool

Wombat Pool Water

Wombat Pool water

Wombat Pool

Dove Lake and Lake Lilla

Dove Lake and Lake Lilla

Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

At the other end of the Overland Track, the landscape looks very different. Vast dense rainforests cover the surface. Loud birdsong rings out through the sky. Lake St. Clair, Australia’s deepest freshwater lake is a silent giant. Small ripples of water dance over its surface and rays of sunshine break through the cloud to reach the surface, it must be one of the world’s most beautiful lakes.
While the nearby forest on its western shores remains damaged by former fires, its cultural heritage remains. Here, Aboriginal tribes once lived. It is a dark chapter in Tasmania’s history, as the indigenous people were forced to move, displaced to offshore islands. Today, it is recognized as one of the biggest mistakes in Tasmania’s governmental history. It is an uncomfortably eerie yet fascinating feeling to walk through these forests, partly burned and with several signs reminding walkers of the shameful past.
Some few miles further east, a pumphouse was turned into one of Tasmania’s most precious and well-awarded hotels. A fantasticly photogenic location. It is the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park.

Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair - burnt tree

Lake St Clair 2

Lake St Clair - in the forest

Lake St Clair - Pumphouse 2

Lake St Clair - Pumphouse

Photos taken on location in Tasmania during January 2016, using a Leica M6 and Lubitel 166u. Developed and scanned by MeinFilmLab.de.

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