Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania’s premier attractions and no visit to Tasmania is complete without seeing this awesome area. Cradle Mountain is at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and in turn, is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Cradle Mountain is about two hours drive from Launceston, although there are several pleasant stops along the way. If you wish to stop at all of the delightful places, listed below, we would recommend breaking the trip across two days.
Take the Midlands and then Bass Highways out of Launceston and follow the signs. The first stop is Westbury, just half an hour out of Launceston. Westbury is a lovely old town with a distinctly “English” feel to it. It is literally packed with beautiful, historic buildings, the best way to see the town is to park the car and explore on foot.
Back in the car continue on the Bass Highway, for just 15 minutes, to the Meander Valley Rd exit which will take you to Deloraine, another charming, historic town. Deloraine is located on the banks of the Meander River and is a very pretty town. In November of each year Deloraine plays host to the Tasmanian Craft Fair, Australia’s largest working craft fair, because of this year round you will find a wide selection of arts and crafts in the local galleries and stores.
Back on the Bass Highway for another 15 minutes will take you to Elizabeth Town. Midway between Deloraine and Elizabeth Town, is the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm and Café. It is a raspberry lover’s delight. Just a few kilometres past Elizabeth Town is another gourmet delight. The Ashgrove Cheese Shop, home to the delicious Ashgrove Farm Cheeses. Here you can watch the cheese being made, sample the full range of Ashgrove cheeses (there will be one to suit everyone tastes!), as well as buy a wide range of Tasmanian cheeses and other produce. If all that has made you hungry, you will be pleased to know there is a café serving light meals and drinks which feature Ashgrove cheese and milk.
Another detour that can be taken from Deloraine, is to the Mole Creek Caves, however, there is so much to see here that you may consider making a separate trip here on a second day (and perhaps stopping to savour some of the other suggested detours…). The Mole Creek Area has over 300 known caves and sink holes. The two best known are Marakoopa Cave, which features two underground streams and a glow worm display, and King Solomons Cave which is jam packed with features and lavishly decorated with shawls, stalactites and stalagmites.
Continuing on to Cradle Mountain, the next town that you may consider stopping at is Sheffield. Sheffield is the “Town of Murals”. Virtually every blank wall in this town has been covered in murals, mostly depicting the history of the area. Even the garbage bins have mini murals that local school children have painted on them.
Head on to Cradle Mountain. Depending on how long you plan to spend here there are a number of walks that can be undertaken. For the really keen, there is the famous, six day, Overland Track, however, if you are considering this walk please refer to www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=7771. A must for the day walker is the Dove Lake Circuit, you should allow about two hours for the walk.