Cradle Mountain Day Drive
Day Drive Cradle Mountain, Sheffield, and Westbury from Launceston
Cradle Mountain lies at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park and is easily accessible by road. There is an excellent interpretation Centre at the gates of the Park, and it is worth dropping in for information on the geology, history, topography, flora and wildlife of the area.
It was in the early 1900's that Gustav Weindorfer, a recent immigrant from Austria, first became interested in the area and protecting it for the enjoyment of future generations. He established the original Waldheim Chalet and was instrumental in promoting Cradle Valley as a tourist destination as early as 1920. Access was very limited, however, until the construction of the sealed road in 1965, with the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park being declared in 1971. It is a part of Tasmania's World Heritage Listed Wilderness Area.
This is a part of Tasmania that is very geologically diverse. The whole region having been shaped by glacial erosion and deposition, with many of the mountain, lake and valley features reflecting these processes. Vegetation ranges from dense rainforest to open grassland, and Cradle Mountain is home to a range of wildlife including Tasmanian Devils, Quolls, Echidna, Platypus and Wallabies.
There is a wide range of walks available in the area, though it is always a good idea to check the expected weather conditions at the Interpretation Center before venturing into exposed areas. Weather in the area can change with alarming speed, so sensible precautions are advised.
Cradle Mountain Day Drive Directions
Leave Launceston on the A1 and head towards Deloraine, Devonport and Burnie. It is worth taking the turnoff roads to meander through the villages of Hagley and Westbury if you want a closer look at these charming rural towns. The little park on the left as you are about to leave Westbury is a particularly good place to stop to stretch your legs or enjoy morning tea. Similarly, it is worth leaving the main A1 Highway to drive through Deloraine.
From Deloraine, take the B12 Mole Creek Road to Mole Creek. The Cafe at the Mole Creek Guest House is a good place to stop for refreshments if required. The Mole Creek Karst National Park is the home of the Mole Creek Cave system, including the famous Marakoopa and King Solomon's Caves. Stop for a guided walk through the cave system if interested.
Stay on the B12 road as it winds though thick bushland and becomes the Mersey Forest Road, and then Olivers Road. This will be a winding, though very scenic route. Olivers Road will T-junction onto the C136 Claude Road. Turn left to Cethana and cross Lake Cethanaiteself. The road then climbs back onto the tablelands to join the C132 Cradle Mountain Road. Turn left onto the C132 and follow it as it comes out onto a plateau area. Watch for the signpost showing the turnoff to the left to Cradle Mountain, and follow the C132 to the gates of the National Park.
On the return trip to Launceston, we suggest taking a different route to drive through some very attractive farmland and rural scenery. Follow the C132 road back towards Devonport, but do not turn off onto the C136 that you came in on. Go straight ahead on the the C132 to Wilmot. Stay on the C132 to Lower Wilmot, drive through Lower Wilmot and as the road dips towards the river, watch for the turnoff to the Paloona Road. Turn right onto Paloona Road and take the right turn onto Paloona Dam Road and wind through the forest until it joins Lower Barrington Road. Take the right turn onto Lower Barrington Road and drive to Lower Barrington. At Lower Barrington turn right onto the B14 Sheffield Road and follow it to Sheffield.
Sheffield has been dubbed "The Town of Murals" for good reason, and is worth a visit. Refreshments are available from the shops in the town. Stay on the B14 Road to Railton. At Railton, turn right onto the B13 Railton Road and follow it as it winds through some very pretty farmland to join the A1 at Elizabeth Town. Turn right onto the A1 and follow it back to Launceston.
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