Cradle Mountain Drive
Australia's most recognisable mountain, Cradle Mountain forms the northern end of the wild Cradle Mtn. Lake St Clair National Park, itself a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The familiar jagged contours of Cradle Mountain epitomise the feel of a wild landscape, while abundant wildlife, icy streams, alpine heathlands, colourful deciduous beech and ancient pines reflected in still glacial lakes entice many visitors to stay and explore.
There are a number of ways to get there from Launceston. This one is a little round about, but the detours and back roads we take you down make the journey to Cradle Mountain much more interesting.
Length: 198 km plus additional travel to points of interest within the region
Suggested return journey: this drive is a loop that starts and finishes at Launceston. The having been said, any of the towns of the north west - Devonport, Stanley, Wynyard, Burnie, Ulverstone - would also make a good starting point for this day trip.
Duration: full day
Take Bass Highway towards Devonport, taking the turn-off to the historic town of Latrobe (Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame; Giant Platypus) just before you reach Devonport. If you are starting from any of the previously mentioned towns, head to Latrobe and follow the rest of the drive from there.
Leave Latrobe west along Gilbert Street, turning left into Railton Road. After a short drive (14 km) you will reach Railton, known for it topiary (trees and bushes trimmed to resemble animals and everyday objects. There are over a hundered of them around town, with a large collection in a small park in Crockers Street.
Take Sheffield Road from Railton and head for Sheffield (12 km). The big attraction in this very pretty town are its famous murals, painted onto the walls of buildings by professional artists. Just as Railton has topiary everywhere, so Sheffield has murals everywhere. It also has some fabulous little speciality shops.
Continue on Sheffield Road out of town to where the road does a little loop about 5 km out of town. Take Barrington Road on the left and you will go through the most quaintly named place in Australia - Nowhere Else. What is there at Nowhere Else? Not much really, there' are no shops, no pub, no general store or toilets, just a few farm houses and an interesting sign to have your photo taken under!
Follow Nowhere Else Road through what there is of a township and head towards Mt Roland, which sits in all its magnificence in front of you. Turn right into West Kentish Road and head towards Promised Land. That's right, and there is also a Paradise and a Crackpot (this refers to a town, not a person) in this neck of the woods, just in case you thought there was Nowhere Else with a funny name!
Village of Lower Crackpot
After all these funny names, it will come as no surprise to find there is also village of Lower Crackpot at Promised Land. Part of Tasmazia, Lower Crackpot is a whimsical model village built to 1/5th scale. Each building has a story to tell, and is connected to real people. There is the Cathy Freeman Sports Centre. Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen is the member for Lower Crackpot, complete with ivory tower. The village is dedicated to all those in middle life who, in this new economic age, are 'adjusted' out of their jobs, professions, businesses, farms, careers and thrown onto the economic scrap heap, there to start again, some way, as happened to its creator, Brian Inder at age 54. The village, at the entrance to Lake Barrington International Rowing Course, is meant as an inspiration to these people - you can pick yourself up and succeed in a new life, you can thumb your nose at the "new order" and still have a ball.
After the fun of Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot, keep travelling in a south westerly direction on Staverton Road, turning right into Cathana Road at Cethana. On Cethana Road you will then pass Lake Cethana and the Cethana and Wilmot Hydro electric power stations.
There are a number of waterfalls near the village of Moina. Arm, Forth, Hogg Creek, Bridal Veil, Champagne and No Name Falls are all within easy reach of Sheffield. Walking tracks to each falls vary in length for an easy 20 minutes (Arm Falls) to a moderate two hour (Bridal Beil).
Turn left at the T-junction at Moina onto Cradle Mountain Road and follow the signs to the Visitors Centre at Cradle Mountain. Here there is information and maps for walks in the area.
Cradle Mountain forms the northern end of the wild Cradle Mt. - Lake St Clair National Park, itself a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The jagged contours of Cradle Mountain epitomise the feel of a wild landscape, while ancient rainforest and alpine heathlands, buttongrass and stands of colourful deciduous beech provide a range of environments to explore. Icy streams cascading out of rugged mountains, stands of ancient pines mirrored in the still waters of glacial lakes and a wealth of wildlife ensure there is always something to captivate you. The area is one of the most popular natural areas in Tasmania. A visit will reveal why.
Cradle Mountain is the starting point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent 6 day walk that will take you through the heart of some of the finest mountain terrain.
When you are ready to leave Cradle Mountain, head back along Cradle Mountain Road, but do not turn right at Moina but keep straight on to Wilmot.
The village of Wilmot was home to the original Coles store. The store burnt down recently, but the historic church where the Coles brothers worshipped, and the home of Coles supermarket chain founder, G.J. Coles, still stand. Follow the road from Wilmot towards the coast on a road lined with the most interesting and unique array of letterboxes you are ever likely to see.
Wilmot Letterbox Trail
On your right is Lake Barrington, an ideal place for water-based activities such as swimming, rowing, water skiing, power boating and canoeing. It has picnic areas, sheltered tables, BBQs and toilets are available within the reserve. A kiosk operates on weekends in summer and during major sporting events.
The road ends at Bass Highway at Forth. Turn left to get to Ulverstone, Penguin, Burnie and Stanley; turn right for Devonport and Launceston.
Tasmanian Road Distances