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Monday, April 15, 2013

     Cradle Mountain lies in the northern end of the Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair National Park just at the edge of Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This popular mountain region can offer you every aspect of Tasmanian wilderness you can possibly imagine: incredible alpine scenery and vast buttongrass plains of the Southwest, ancient rainforests and beech forests, or highland tarns and endemic pencil pines well known in Central Highlands. Although it is one of the most visited parks in Tasmania and can get very crowded during summer months by day walkers and guided trips (especially the area around Lake Dove and the world-famous Overland track), there are still lots of places which have remained remote and pristine, and can offer unique unpredictable adventure.

     An overnight track that brings you from Lake Dove to Scott-Kilvert Hut at Lake Rodway via Hanson's Peak, Twisted Lakes and along the eastern slopes of Cradle Mountain, then back via Little Horn, Kitchen Hut and Marion's Lookout, leads through some of the most spectacular yet the least known area in the whole park. Even in the summer months when western slopes of the Cradle Mountain witness about 60 walkers who start the Overland Track every day, you're likely to meet no one and have the whole valley only for yourself.


Lake Dove to Scott-Kilvert Hut via Hanson's Peak and Twisted Lakes (3 hours)

     From the Lake Dove car park we headed off towards Lake Dove and turned left - the very scenic gentle climb leads you along the eastern edge of Lake Dove lake towards Hanson's Peak. There are two routes that can be taken from there: (1) the first track heads south up the ridge to the very steep and rocky summit of Hanson's Peak, (2) another route follows the low level track to Lake Hanson and around eastern slopes of Hanson's Peak to the Twisted Lakes. 

     We decided to take the first more scenic route, however after a short break at Lake Hanson we somehow missed the track along the lake and found ourselves climbing onto the Hanson's Peak. 


     It was a clear (and very windy) day and the views from the top were breathtaking. We descended to incredibly beautiful Twisted Lakes reflecting the surrounding pines in the late afternoon light.

 From the Twisted Lakes we walked along the ridge towards rocky pinnacle of the Little Horn, until we came to the track junction which leads to Kitchen Hut. There was a ranger's hut in a beautiful moss garden with a glacial lake at the edge of a pine forest. Here we turned left for 1 hour walk towards Scott-Kilvert Hut at Lake Rodway.

     The track leading along the eastern slopes of Cradle Mountain and Little Horn passes through some of the most spectacular region in the Cradle Mountain area. After passing the beautiful glacial lakes Artist's Pool and Flynn's Tarn it descends gently to the hut at Lake Rodway. The cosy Scott's-Kilvert Hut was built as a memorial to David Kilvert and Ewan Scott who died in the area in May 1965. At the hut there are also 4-5 tent sites.


Scott-Kilvert Hut to Lake Dove via Little Horn, Marion's Lookout and Crater Lake

     On the second morning at Lake Rodway you have two options: (1) Pass the Lake Rodway and continue south-east, then cross the ridge towards Cradle Cirque where the Overland track is met. From there 1 hour walk leads you to the Kitchen hut by traversing the western slopes of Cradle Mountain. (2) Return through the valley back to the track junction with Hanson's Peak track at the rangers hut. 

     The second track which we took leads west traversing the steep north face of Little Horn which can easily be climbed from here in a good weather. The track here is quite rough and steep, and offers excellent views of Lake Dove and Lake Wilks. Soon you'll come to the track junction which takes you down to Lake Wilks and further down to Ballroom forest at Lake Dove. Otherwise continue straight to the next ridge where the track meets the Overland Track at the Kitchen Hut providing a good emergency shelter in a bad weather. Ascending the Cradle Mountain from Kitchen Hut is possible and takes about 1 hour climb involving considerable amount of scrambling, and therefore should only be attempted in a good visibility. From Kitchen Hut an easy 30min walk brings you to Marion's Lookout and Crater Lake. From there very rough and narrow goat chain route leads straight down to the banks of the Lake Dove.


  • Scott-Kilvert Hut and camping: 4-5 tent sites, toilet and rain water tank available. 1 hour walk from the junction of Hanson's peak track and Kitchen Hut track just below the Little Horn. Scott-Kilvert hut is not part of the Overland track and offers a quiet place for an overnight stay in a pristine environment of Lake Rodway.
  • Waterfall Valley Hut and camping: The first hut on the Overland Track, maximum 20 people during summer months. 1 night stay and walking in the opposite direction (south to north) is possible without paying the Overland Track fee unless walking more than one overnight section of the track.


     The months from late November to early April have longer daylight hours and warmer average temperatures. The weather around Cradle Mountain is notoriously unpredictable and can change very rapidly. You have to expect rain, strong winds, freezing temperatures and snow any time of the year. Always check the latest weather forecasts for the Cradle Mountain area. 


Car: Cradle Mountain lies at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It is 1 1/2 hours drive from Devonport via the B19 and B14 south to Sheffield, then C136 and C132 to the park entrance; 2 1/2 hour drive from Launceston on the Bass Highway (A1), then the signposted route via B13 and C156 through Sheffield, and 2 hours from Queenstown along the A10 and C132, then the A10 and C132.

Cradle Shuttle Bus: McDermotts Coaches operates a shuttle bus seven days a week service between the Visitors Centre and Lake Dove via Ranger Station, Snake hill and Ronny Creek.

Public transport and private charters:

  • McDermott's Coaches: McDermott's Coaches operates a regular bus service between Launceston and Cradle Mountain ($55.00 each way), departing Launceston at 8:30am and arriving at Cradle Mountain at 11:20am, or departing Cradle Mountain 2:30 and arriving in Launceston at 5:30pm. Operates every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Private charters are available if regular service times are not suitable. Bookings are essential.
  • Tassielink
  • Under Down Under Tours
  • Tiger Wilderness can offers private charters for walking groups as well as independent travellers. They provide transport to and from the following National Parks: Cradle Mountain and St Clair, Arm River, Lees Paddocks, Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchmans Cap, Southwest and other places. Check their website for the free quote.  
  • Mountain Bikes Tasmania is a new transport provider in Tasmania offering flexible transport options from the airport to the start of the major bushwalking areas. They can also pick you up from the end of your walk with return transfer to either Launceston or Hobart airport.
  • Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences provide a comprehensive transport service for bushwalkers seeking to access Tasmania's walking tracks. They can offer very convenient and flexible schedule to and from Hobart Airport.
  • Adventure Seekers provide transportation service to the following bushwalking tracks: Hobart to/from Cradle Mountain ($190 pp) or Lake St Clair ($110 pp); Launceston – to/from Cradle Mountain ($110 pp); and Lake St Clair to / from Cradle Mountain ($150 pp).

Maps, books and links


  1. Hi, can you tell me how far the circuit is that you've outlined in the first map?

  2. Hi Cat, the whole circuit was 14.5km and took about 6 hours (3 hours the first day and 3 hours the next morning). The circuit starts right at the Lake Dove car park. It takes 2 hours to get to the Junction with the Scott-Kilvert hut, where you can decide to either continue to the hut (1 hour) or finish the circuit back to the car park (2 hours). You can also hike to the hut, sleep there and return the same way instead of doing the circuit, which would save you probably 30-60 minutes. Have a great trip!

  3. Thanks so much for this blog! Great information and we look forward to doing this walk on our upcoming trip.

    Can you book the hut/campsite in advance or is it first come first serve? Do we need to pay any other fees? Sorry for all the questions, it's been tough finding information on this online!



  4. Hi Jenna! Thank you for your comment. The hut/campsite on this circuit is on first come first serve basis, you don't need to book anything. There are also no fees for this trip. Enjoy your walk!

  5. Hi Jana, thanks for this great information.

    We are coming to Cradle Mountain mid-april 2015 and would like to do the same overnight stay at Scott-Kilvert Hut. We are driving in but are not sure where to leave the car safely overnight- would you be able to leave it at Dove Lake carpark and come back the next day?

    Also, are we allowed to camp at Scott-Kilvert Hut without notifying the park/paying any fees? I heard camping in the Cradle Mountain area is not allowed.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated,


  6. Hi Tim, absolutely! Leaving the car at the Dove Lake carpark overnight should be safe - we did the same! Yes, you can camp at Scott.Kilvert Hut without booking, it's free. Anywhere else in Cradle Mountain area camping is not allowed. However there are not many spots around the Scott-Kilvert hut and they are on first-come first-served basis. Try to arrive earlier for better spots. If the campsites around the hut are full, there are a few more around the lake. Enjoy the trip, Cradle Mountain is breathtaking any time of the year :) Cheers, Jana

  7. Hi Jana
    Found this very useful. We are heading there in a week & we are still wondering if we should do the Jerusalem overnight walk or this one. Difficult choice

  8. Hi Julian, While Lake Dove to Scott-Kilvert Hut is a wonderful and easy choice for an overnight walk - one of the most breathtaking there is, the Walls of Jerusalem are a little bit more tricky - you would ideally need at least two nights to reach the Walls (especially if your start late after driving there). And if you want to explore the area around the Walls, which I would highly recommend as this is what you're coming for, I would add another day or two. We did Jerusalem only as overnight because we didn't have more time (this was after doing the Western Arthurs Range), so we definitely need to go back! Enjoy your walk. Cheers, Jana

  9. Thanks for the great info... we are looking to do this hike (and overnight at the hut) with our 2 young kids next month.


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