Cradle Mountain in Northwest Tasmania is one of the island’s most beautiful sites – a national park and in a UNESCO World Heritage area.
It’s a shame to pass by and not see Dove Lake at the base of the mountain but it’s a strenuous hike up to 900 meters on a loaded mountain bike.
Leave your gear instead at the excellent Mt. Roland Backpackers in Gowrie Park (14km from Sheffield) and do this 100km round trip unloaded. It’s a challenging day out but if you’re accustomed to covering 70-80km with a load, you should manage it just fine.
*GPS data logged with the QSTARZ BT-Q1000
THE ROUTE: Start out from Mt. Roland Backpackers in Gowrie Park.
The road climbs steadily but gently for the first 5.5km towards Moina, followed by a speedy descent down to the dam but then there’s a grueling 5km climb back up at grades of 10% before you reach the hamlet of Moina.
You’ve earned a break so stop at Cradle Chalet for a coffee and a muffin. It’s a big boost for the remaining distance. If you really want to splurge, they also have luxury rooms for about A$200/night. The cafe will happily refill your water bottles.
Go left at the Moina junction. The road climbs gently for another few kilometers and eventually breaks into rolling hills that take you through green forests and across the barren Middlesex Plain. Keep an eye out for cockatoos, wombats and echidnas by the side of the road.
Watch too for the Post Office Tree on your left, where a local man used to collect his mail.
Around the 40km mark, the Cradle Mountain turnoff appears on the left and from here it’s a further 10km of rolling hills up to Dove Lake. Sit on a bench and admire the view as you eat your lunch.
There are also shuttle buses from a visitor’s centre if you don’t fancy the climb. If you don’t already have a park pass, you’ll need to buy one (A$28/2 months or A$11/day pass) here.
Once you’ve had your fill of soaking in the scenery around Dove Lake, turn yourself around and head back to Gowrie Park for a hot shower.
The leg back home takes far less time, since it’s largely downhill. Congratulate yourself on a day’s trip well done!