Distance: Devonport to Cradle Mountain is just over 100km
Time: we took around a week beginning in Melbourne on Spirit of Tasmania
The wilderness gets me every time; so a road trip that leads right into the depths of a gob-smacking World Heritage Listed area within just a few leisurely hours, is always going to be a winner for me. The drive from Devonport to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania is one that highlights that no matter what the season, Tasmania is shrouded in beauty.
Let mother nature weave its magic.
But like all drives, it’s about the journey. So let’s not get bogged down in the ‘final’ destination. Just yet.
A really fun thing we enjoyed was taking our car (with our caravan in tow) on Spirit of Tasmania and letting the rolling seas put us in the mood for something completely different. For us, this is where our journey started as it really is a relaxing, and quite exciting night at sea heading towards the Apple Isle.
Family-friendly and recently refurbished, it even has a cinema onboard (our daughter loved that!). We found a great lounge bar upstairs with live music where we could relax after we had dinner in the TMK (Tasmanian Market Kitchen). But what I loved the most was simply standing out on the bow of the ship and taking in the fresh air as we left the lights of Melbourne and sailed across Bass Strait (not to mention being rocked to sleep in our cabin that night).
Take in the freshest air in the world
As soon as we docked in Devonport, our entire family took a deep breath, as though leaving the noise of mainland Australia behind, and kicked back into a much slower, “touring” gear. I long for that feeling when I am back in my ordinary life……
It was almost too easy driving off Spirit of Tasmania (after a good nights sleep) in our own car and simply continuing on our journey – and anything to make a holiday easier is a winner in my books.
Explore the treasures of Devonport
The gateway to the North East of Tassie, Devonport sits on the Mersey River and the Bass Strait coast – so you get the best of everything, river, ocean and mountain views! A quick google search and you realise you’re spoilt for choice for things to do, but we’re always looking for something a little different, and made a bee line for The Julie Burgess.
The Julie Burgess
With the backdrop of Bass Strait, exploring the maritime history is fascinating.
Every time we speak of her, a smile comes over the faces of our entire family. Built in 1936, she’s the last of nearly 150 beautiful fishing ketches built or operated by the Burgess family, who have been involved in the local maritime industry since the 1840’s.
She’s been beautifully restored and you can jump on board and relive her classic sailing days on a 2-hour sailing.
To spend the afternoon with such passionate volunteers who were part of the team that restored her was a privilege. I would urge anyone thinking about something a little different, to jump on board and not only think about those pioneering settlers who sailed these old beauties, but the locals who spend their lives preserving them today.
After spending some time in Devonport, it was time to hit the road on our path towards Cradle Mountain, although our first stop was only 15 minutes out of town.
Spreyton Cider Company.
Family owned and run, the Spreyton Cider Company arose from the Spreyton Fresh Juice Company that’s been growing apples on the island for over 100 years. We spent the afternoon with cider maker Damien, and I quickly realised the place is built on passion. And as for the cider? Lucky for me, my partner was driving so I got to enjoy the vast array available at the cellar door – I never knew there were so many varieties!
We picked out some of our favourites and packed them into the car to enjoy at our accommodation later – it only seemed right.
Sheffield – the town of Murals
Quirky, unique, it’s all here!
The touring route to Cradle Mountain is filled with places to drop into… and one of them is the unique town of Sheffield, also known as the town of murals! And I am not just talking of a few, I am talking the entire town. The famous street art all over the towns buildings, paint the pictures of Cradle Mountain pioneer Gustav Weindorfer, Tasmanian tigers, and other historic stories and characters.
Whether you like art or not, this is a worthy stop on your way. It’s impossible to not be inspired by the walls as you walk the streets; so grab an ice-cream and settle in for the stroll!
Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park
World-class viewing out your window
With a backdrop of the rolling farmland, Tasmania has a way of reminding me world-class wilderness can be just around the corner.
And as we made the hour-long journey from Sheffield to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, a silence seems to come over our car as we’re captured by the scenery unfolding outside the window.
Undulating roads, lush green pastures – like a magnet, we’re pulled towards one of Tasmania’s most special places. Spanning over 160,000 hectares the national park is filled with ancient rainforest and alpine heaths. On approach to the national park, Cradle Mountain itself kind of lures you down the road; it’s craggy peaks are imposing on the landscape, it’s close enough to see, but far away enough to make you curious.
And once you arrive into the national park, and stand in front of Cradle Mountain, her reflection shimmers in the iconic Dove Lake like a painting. With the changing moods of the weather, I could stand there all day and never get bored of that sight. It’s world-class and simply timeless.
As we explored the park, it added another dimension to see the home of Gustav Weindorfer – the passionate Austrian botanist who, after migrating to Australia in the late 1800’s, laid eyes on Cradle Mountain in 1910 and famously said “this must be a national park for the people of all time. It is magnificent and people must know about it and enjoy it”. Which he then dedicated his life to, and we can thank certainly today.
You’ve got plenty of options of where to stay, from the holiday park which has plenty of cabins, caravan and tent sites, to Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. Both are completely enveloped by bushland, and the facilities have been thoughtfully built into the landscape.
There are so many options when exploring the park, from a leisurely walking trail around famous Dove Lake which is boardwalked for much of the way, to the longer 6-day hike on the Overland Track that has been well maintained and abuzz with trekkers from all over the world. I’ve done both and couldn’t recommend more highly. When we were there we also met a group who had literally just climbed up Cradle Mountain herself, something I will be sure to take on one day.
You can also give your feet a rest and up the thrill meter with a quad bike adventure. Winding through ancient myrtle and eucalypt forest to button grass plains, with priceless views of Cradle Mountain and other landmarks, be prepared to get a little bit dirty and have a lot of fun out in the wilderness.
But I want to leave you with a short video of the Park Ranger we met, Jeff. He has certainly found his place in life, where it’s his mission to protect our incredible backyard, which he does (with a huge twinkle in his eye) on a daily basis. Got the life hey.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Tassie in the comments – have you been or would you like to go?