If you love nature and enjoy trekking, you will find Australia enchanting. Once there, you shouldn’t miss the gorgeous wilderness of Tasmania, which locals affectionately call “Tassie”. This large island was blessed with picturesque beaches, mountains, forests, lakes, and diverse flora and fauna. In a country comprised mainly of flat grasslands, Tassie stands out for its many hills and mountains.
Tassie mesmerizes travelers from all over the world with Cradle Mountain, home to many trekking trails, both long and short. Of note is the six-day bushwalking Overland Track, which is 65 km-long, starting at Cradle Mountain, the symbol of Tasmania, and ending at Lake St. Clair – the deepest freshwater lake in Australia. The trek takes six to eight days, crossing the center of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, part of the stunning Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This is one of the most popular multi-day bushwalking tracks in Australia, featured on Lonely Planet’s list of beautiful walking trails worldwide.
The wild Overland Track
The best season for trekking is from October to the end of May. To access the Overland Track, tourists must pre-register online. Sign-up opens on the first day of July, so do your best to snap up a spot. It costs AUD200 (equivalent to about VND3,400,000) per person to register, and you’ll also need a National Park pass at AUD40 (around VND700,000). These fees can be avoided by traveling in the winter from June to September when tourists need only apply for a pass via email.
The weather on the Overland Track is mercurial. Tourists can experience spring, summer, autumn, and winter, all on the same day. Tasmania has the most rainfall of any region in Australia. The Overland Track and Tasmania as a whole are known for their distinctive biodiversity. With luck, tourists can spot unique animals like black currawongs, a large crow-like bird with an average length of 50cm, golden irises, a heavy beak, and black plumage with white-tipped wings. They can use their beaks to open tourists’ bags and feast on the contents. Carrying food may also attract unwelcome visitors in the form of possums. Another unique animal that might be sighted is the wombat, a bare-nosed chubby marsupial with short legs that can move surprisingly quickly. These “professional sprinters” can reach up to 40km/h over short distances. Wombats are only found in Australia. Even locals rarely spot them in nature as the animals enjoy resting in their caves during the day. Meanwhile, Tasmanian devils are considered symbols of the island since this is their sole remaining natural habitat. They were classified as endangered at the beginning of the 21st century. The size of a small dog, the Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. The Tasmanian Devil is also an animated character in Looney Tunes, an American cartoon series produced by Warner Bros. I was hoping to spot a few little devils here, but unfortunately, there were none to be seen.
A postcard-perfect lake in the shadow of Cradle Mountain
Located at the foot of Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake is circled by a 6km-long trail, one of the most stunning walking trails in Tasmania and also part of the Overland Track. Starting from the National Park’s Information Center, this is the most popular walking route for those short on time or lacking tickets for the full Overland Track.
After a light breakfast, we boarded an early bus. Luckily, the weather was on our side with bright sunshine and cool air, perfect for trekking. Tourists collect their trekking passes in Launceston, which lies 140 km from Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. From here, it’s a 2.5-hour car ride to reach Cradle Mountain. The car sped past fields of grass with herds of cattle grazing contentedly. Cradle Mountain National Park is located in the northern part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The middle-aged tour guide, a tall, healthy-looking man with tanned skin, introduced us to the basics of the trail, and the story of spouses Kate Cowle and Gustav Weindorfer, who fell in love with the area and developed its tourism industry.
He pointed out river mint, which grows wild all over the lakeside trail. The clean air and heavy rainfall result in special vegetation surrounding the lake. Clumps of lemongrass, stinging nettle, sarsaparilla, and King Billy pines that can reach heights of 30m are all easily found. Nearing the southernmost point of Dove Lake, we entered the pleasantly cool Ballroom Rainforest, where awe-inspiring ancient oaks tower over a thick carpet of moss.
We were guided clockwise around Dove Lake, then enjoyed a late lunch in a small shack. A simple meal of sandwiches, salad, and a few small apples felt memorable surrounded by nature.
I’d like to quote tour guide Gustav Weindorfer, speaking about Cradle Mountain: “This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.”
A tour around Dove Lake lasts approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, ending near the Dove Lake Boathouse, one of the symbols of the trail. It was built in the 1940s by Lionell Connell, the first ranger at Cradle Mountain National Park. This is also the best spot to take a postcard-perfect photograph that captures the Boathouse, Dove Lake, and Cradle Mountain.
If you’re visiting Australia, add a few days or weeks to your itinerary to explore Tasmania. Sign up for a short bushwalking trip to discover the wild beauty of Cradle Mountain. You won’t regret it. For me, every hike, when both my body and mind focus on each breath and step forward, is a chance to return to my calm, peaceful self.