Central/South Tasmania – Cradle Mountain & Strathgordon!!

Queenstown was a convenient and inexpensive stop over stop to do some work after coming down the west coast. But after being in town for close to 7 days for work we were beginning to get anxious to hit the road again.The town and its inhabitants were lovely but the food options were unfortunately very limited.

Although on the upside Anthony found his second favorite scallop pie in the state so far, at the Serenade Cafe in the main street of Queenstown. According to his feedback so far it seems the inland towns ironically seem to make a much better Scallop Pie than the bakeries near the coast!

Delicious scallop pies aside, we departed town, heading east with the plan of visiting the small township of Strathgordon via Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain National Park!!

From Queenstown to Strathgordon via Lake St Clair in Cradle Mountains!!

Since arriving in Tasmania I have been determined to complete a majority of the walks on the National Parks 60 Great Short Walks list.To any tourists planning a trip to Tasmania I highly recommend doing some of the walks from the list. The walks showcase some of the states most beautiful locations while mostly keeping away from the “tourist traps” that leave you feeling like a bit of a money grab.

The Lyell Highway, was a convenient trip inland offering 3 hikes from the list in quick succession along the highway – Nelsons Falls, Donaghys Hill and the Franklin River Nature Trail.

On our first day, we tackled the ‘Shadow Lake Circuit’ walk, number 20 on the ’60 great short walks’ list!! It did not disappoint covering 13km and passing through rainforest, sub-alpine moorland and eucalypt forests.

On day two, we combine the ‘Echo Point’ walk, number 21 with ‘Lake St Clair’, number 18 on the ’60 great short walks’ list!! Catching the ferry to Echo Point early in the morning and then walking back along the trail that follows the shore of the lake back to camp.

After two days and two nights, we were quite happy with our accomplishments… but the unfortunate happened!! We were lucky to have quiet neighbors on our first two nights but on our third night, a group of five vans arrived and yelled at each other non stop from across the camping area until late at night (11:30pm), when I lost it and asked – I’m lying!! I yelled back to – them to keep noise down as there were people trying to sleep (very tired from hikes and no signs that noise was dying down!!).

I generally try to be understanding and not to complain but two things need to be said…

Firstly, being the end of the Overland Track – a 6 day hiking track, you would think that the visitor’s centre would provide hikers who paid $200 just for the ‘privilege’ of hiking Cradle Mountain, not only bathrooms but also showers!! After average 6 days hiking and no showers…, is it too much to ask? Even if operated by coins, it would allow hikers to feel more comfortable before getting on a bus back home!

Second, Lake St Clair Lodge and Tourist Park sucks!! DO NOT RECOMMEND!! You would be better camping down the road at the Pub. Extremely disappointed with accommodation options!! We stayed in a powered campsite which looks and feels like you are camping on a car park. But if we had taken an unpowered site we would have literally been sleeping in a car park as its just a fenced area for tents. Bathrooms were dirty (male smelled like urine for the 3 days we stayed there even after cleaning) and bad service (reception staff at the lodge had the personality of a wet sock!!)!

My overall impression: Lake St Claire Lodge and Tourist Park’s reasoning, justifying in their FAQ page for small, limited and bad camping space is due to being a Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area and they can’t expand and yet, they were able to build many extremely overpriced cabins (what looks like around 40 cabins @ $300+ against 10 powered campsites and a ridiculously small space for unpowered campsites!). How I see it, there is a major discrepancy in accommodation distribution in one of the most visited parks in Tasmania, home to the ‘Tableland Track’ amongst others hiking tracks!! The park is being run as a business where the main aim is money rather than being for the people.

From what I have read about the Lodge’s overall satisfaction on sites like trip advisor, it seems like our experience wasn’t just a one off!!

Just my 5 cents worth!! (yeah, yeah… have a laugh, but I’ve never seen a 2 cents piece!! 😉

Okay, back to the trip… we headed into the Derwent Valley after Cradle Mountain stayed over night at New Norfolk. Then headed down into the South West National Park to see the Gordon Dam.

After the camping experience at Cradle Mountain the experience in the South West National park could not have been better. We stayed at Ted’s Beach for night, there was a spotless camp kitchen / amenities block up one end of beach and we were able to camp right on the beach for FREE!