Tasmania is stunningly beautiful! It is not commonly found on an itinerary for a first-time visit to Australia, but I am so glad I chose to include it in my trip plans. After two nights in Hobart and a site-inspection at Saffire, Josh and I spent 3-nights at Cradle Mountain Lodge exploring and hiking in the National park. This was a perfect blend of beautiful landscapes, fresh air, and wildlife.
This is the final entry in a series of posts from my Tasmania trip, read the others here:
We opted for a self-drive tour of Tasmania and I’m glad we did; the roads may have been winding and narrow, but we enjoyed having the extra freedom and flexibility for getting around. We’d been warned by many locals to be careful of wildlife on the roads at dusk so we were racing the sun to get to Cradle Mountain. This picture above was taken at a scenic overlook; I made us pull over because I was feeling car sick (dramamine is a must on these mountain roads), but this view and the fresh air help me recover quickly. What a sight!
The locals were right. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set and in the last mile before arriving at the lodge we saw two echidnas, a few wallabies, and more wombats than I could count. As a wildlife safari addict, I was in heaven!
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge served as our home for 3-nights and we were perfectly comfortable. Is this a luxury, 5-star hotel? No, definitely not. But, it is clean, well maintained, offers friendly service and is in THE BEST location for exploring the national park without having to do too much prep work. We booked our Tasmania trip through Swain Destinations, a Virtuoso partner, and they did a great job of setting our expectations and preparing us for the journey.
We stayed in one of the Pencil Pine Cabins and I loved the extra space with the sitting room and fireplace. The bathroom was basic, but they did provide Appelles toiletries, which was a nice touch. The lodge features 2 restaurants and, I’ll be honest, the dining is nothing to write home about. The Tavern has a backpackers feel to it, which can lend to the sense of adventure, but the menu is wanting. Highland restaurant is a more formal affair featuring local game and produce, but the offerings just weren’t enough to keep this foodie content for 3-nights. There is a shop and we ended up sourcing snacks and beverages there to enjoy on our deck; I wish we had stopped at a grocery store on our way in and brought a bottle or wine or two with us. Despite my dining complaints, I enjoyed our time at the lodge and the location alone is reason enough to stay here.
The key to the location of Cradle Mountain lodge is the number of walks you can do right from the property. The above picture was taken on our first morning. We started light and tried out the Enchanted walk to stretch our legs after breakfast. The trail is a little too short to really feel like you’re on a hike, but it is a great introduction to the environment and perfect if you are traveling with children. We visited in early spring so it was still quite cold, but these steams are popular swimming spots in the warmer summer months.
After that we branched out and did the King Billy Track to see see the 1500 year old pine trees. It was steep and muddy in places, but we were rewarded with incredible vistas from the hillside. The giant pines were quite impressive.
The most popular hike amongst the lodge guests was the Dove Lake circuit. It is an easy, level walk around the lake and takes approximately 3-hours. There are off-shoots from this circuit that will take you up into Cradle Mountain if you are feeling adventurous. We saw a fascinating variety of forest ranging from evergreens to groves that felt like tropical rainforests along with a few picturesque lookouts and waterfalls. I definitely recommend this hike.
In addition to the hiking trails, the other must-see attraction at Cradle Mountain is the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary. We arrived with very little knowledge about these fascinating creatures and our guide was so patient and knowledgeable; we returned home with a great sense of affinity to the devils. We’ve been telling everyone who will listen about their eating habits, why they are endangered, and what makes them so cute! They don’t look anything like the cartoon, but they sound exactly the same! Go in the evening for the feeding demonstration to see the devils in their full glory.
On our last day, we were itching to get in one more walk before the sun went down and I’m so glad we did! The Waterfalls Walk began right at the lodge entrance and the late afternoon light made for some great photography in the shadow of the trees, as you can see in the postcard photo above.
Tasmania has finally caught the attention of international travelers and there are signs of more and more investment in the tourism industry there. I will be keeping an eye on Tasmania and I expect to see some really interesting developments over the coming year. First up, Starwood has announced a new Luxury Collection hotel in Hobart, The Tasman opening in June 2019. I believe that the Saffire Freycinet has proven the viability of Tasmania as a luxury lodge destination and I hope to see more properties like it in development, as well. I envision an Amankora-style series of lodges around the island or perhaps a Singita or two? A girl can dream!
Even without a plethora of luxury lodge-style accommodations, Tasmania is ripe for exploring and, if you love beautiful natural landscapes and unique wildlife encounters, this destination should be on your bucket list!