Lake St Clair National Park

Lake St Clair is at the southern end of the world famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

 

Carved out by ice during several glaciations over the last two million years, this is the deepest lake in Australia and the headwaters of the Derwent River, upon which the capital city of Tasmania is located.

 

The area around Lake St Clair offers a wealth of walks, ranging from leisurely strolls to overnight bushwalks, as well as beautiful forests to explore. Lake St Clair is also the end point of the famous Overland Track, a long-distance walk which runs from Cradle Mountain in the north to Cynthia Bay on the southern shore of Lake St Clair.

 

The Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park shares a "Twin Parks" agreement with the World Heriatge listed Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve in the People's Republic of China.

 

Access

 

Lake St Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park. It is 2 1/2 hours west of Hobart via the Lyell Highway (A10) and a similar distance from Launceston via Longford and Poatina. At Derwent Bridge turn right onto the 5 1/2km long access road to the lake at Cynthia Bay. From Queenstown the Lyell Highway is a winding and narrow 1 1/2 hour drive.

 

Both the Lyell Highway and the access road from Derwent Bridge may occasionally be closed by snow in winter.

 

There is no direct road link through the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park. Visitors may most easily reach Cradle Mountain via the Cradle Link Road (C132) and the Muchison and Lyell Highways (A10).

 

Please take care when driving at night as you are sharing the road with wildlife.

 

Facilities

 

Lake St Clair Park Centre

 

Start your visit to Lake St Clair by calling in to the impressive park centre. There, via innovative displays, you can take a trip through time that shows how the Lake St Clair area has developed from ancient times through to the present day. Discover the effects of glaciation on the highland areas of Tasmania, learn how Aborigines and early white explorers interacted with the environment and explore the relationship between animals and their habitat.

 

To help you make the most of your stay, information officers are available at the centre seven days a week. They can advise you on what to do and where to go and assist with general enquiries.

 

Other day visitor facilities
There are picnic facilities with barbecues at Cynthia Bay. Wheelchair accessible toilets are located at the park centre. The area also has a general store and restaurant, public telephone and outdoor seating facilities.

 

Through a Private Operator, canoes, bicycles and motorised dingies are available for hire. Contact the Private Operator on (03) 6289 1137 for details.

 

Camping
Camping is available at Cynthia Bay. For further details please contact the concessionaire on ph (03) 6289 1137 or email lakestclair@trump.net.au.

 

Accomodation
A Backpacker/Travellers Hostel is also available at Cynthia Bay with 2 & 4 bunk rooms and refectory kitchen. Unique alpine-style units are also operated privately by the concessionaire - phone (03) 6289 1137 or email lakestclair@trump.net.au for tariff.

 

Accomodation is also available outside the park at Derwent Bridge.

 

Ferry service
A passenger launch operates from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Bay at the northern end of the lake. It provides a leisurely way to experience the lake and mountains of the Lake St Clair area. For the more energetic it is possible to walk back via part of the Overland Track. Launch bookings can be made at the general store or by phoning (03) 6289 1137. Contact the concessionaire - phone (03) 6289 1137 or email lakestclair@trump.net.au for details of cost and running times.

 

Firewood
At Cynthia Bay fires are only permitted in the constructed fireplaces. Use fuel stoves elsewhere. Please do not collect wood from the bush as fallen wood is a necessary part of natural cycles.

 

Activities

 

Lake St Clair Park Centre

 

Start your visit to Lake St Clair by calling in to the Visitor Centre. There, via innovative displays, you can take a trip through time that shows how the Lake St Clair area has developed from ancient times through to the present day. Discover the effects of glaciation on the highland areas of Tasmania, learn how Aborigines and early white explorers interacted with the environment and explore the relationship between animals and their habitat.

 

To help you make the most of your stay, information officers are available at the centre seven days a week. They can advise you on what to do and where to go and assist with general enquiries.

 

Day walks
Day visitors have a number of contrasting walks to choose from. Whether walking to an alpine lake, a mountain summit or an ancient rainforest, staff at the park centre will be able to assist you. A day walk map can also be purchased there if you want to go on one of the longer walks.

 

Important! The weather here changes by the day, sometimes by the hour. As well, conditions on the lake and along the tracks can be windier, wetter and colder than at Cynthia Bay. Be prepared and seek advice from park staff about weather forecasts or check the latest weather details.

 

Lake walk - A gentle stroll around the lake shore at Cynthia Bay will suit just about anyone. The views across the lake provide panoramas of Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the Greek gods, and of the Traveller Range and Mounts Rufus and Hugel. Cynthia Bay is named after the Greek goddess of the moon.

 

Watersmeet - This easy walk follows the crest of a glacial moraine for part of its route. It also takes you through six different vegetation communities. Visitors in late spring and summer should see many of the wildflowers out, including waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods. The return point is the junction of the Cuvier and Hugel Rivers. Allow 1 hour for a leisurely return walk.

 

Platypus Bay and Larmairremener tabelti - Aboriginal cultural walk - Continue on from Watersmeet. A circular route can be taken which follows the Platypus Bay track to Lake St Clair. There you'll have wide, uninterrupted views across the lake to the Traveller Range.

 

Follow the track back to Watersmeet and then take the signposted Larmairremener tabelti - Aboriginal cultural walk. This track, most of it dry underfoot, takes you back to Cynthia Bay via fern glades, moorlands, rainforest and towering eucalypt stags and provides interpretation of the Aboriginal heritage of the area. Allow 1 1/2 hours for the return trip.

 

Other walks
Some of the most spectacular areas of the park are accessible by longer day walks or overnight walks. A walk to Shadow and Forgotten Lakes normally takes 3-4 hours return and is suitable for families as long as suitable clothing is worn. Talk to park staff about what you need for these and other longer walks as track and weather conditions can vary. A detailed map is essential for longer walks.
Lake St Clair is the end point of the famous Overland Track, which runs for 65km from Cradle Mountain.

 

Fishing
Licensed trout fishing is permitted in the lakes and rivers in season and licences can be obtained from the general store. Private boats may be used on the lake. Signs indicate the location of the boat ramp.

 

Ranger led activities
Usually during summer and autumn, rangers offer a variety of activities such as walks, talks and slide shows for both adults and children. Besides being lots of fun, these are a great way to learn about our national parks, wildlife and cultural heritage.

 

Highlights

 

Leeawuleena - sleeping water

 

Aboriginal people called the lake Leeawuleena, meaning "sleeping water". The Tasmanian Aboriginal people have a long and continuing association with the area and today's vegetation patterns show signs of thousands of years of Aboriginal burning practices.

 

Early European visitors, impressed by the grandeur of the lake, often described it in highly romantic terms. During an 1842 expedition to the lake David Burn, a journalist accompanying Governor and Lady Franklin, was in awe of "the stupendous mountains by which it is encompassed." He described Mt Olympus standing above the lake "like a gigantic castle with donion, battlement and curtain wall." Franklin himself thought Lake St Clair the most beautiful he had ever seen.

 

Lake St Clair, like much of the highlands of Tasmania, is the result of the action of ice during previous glaciations. The basin in which the lake lies was scoured out by the action of glaciers. Moraines, where debris is forced to the margins of the glacier, run along part of the length of the lake. The Watersmeet Track runs along the top of one of these moraines.

 

The lake is the deepest in Australia, with a maximum depth of 167 metres.

 

Wildlife watching
Most of Australia's mammals are nocturnal and difficult to see, but around Cynthia Bay you are likely to meet two species of wallaby. These are the Bennetts or red-necked wallaby, and the smaller, more timid Tasmanian pademelon. Occasionally wombats and quolls can be seen after dark.

 

Australia's two species of monotreme - echidnas and platypuses - are commonly seen around Cynthia Bay. Echidnas are most frequently seen from spring through to autumn in light bushland, often near tracks. Their presence is often indicated by freshly scratched earth. Platypuses are harder to find. They are quite sensitive to noise, but can sometimes be seen in the lake feeding around the shoreline.

 

Cynthia Bay sits on the boundary between dry and wet sclerophyll forests, two habitats that are home to a wide variety of birds. Many, such as black currawongs, strong-billed and black-headed honeyeaters, and the yellow wattlebird are found only in Tasmania.

 

Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair National Park
Derwent Bridge TAS 7140
Phone:(03) 6289 1172
Fax: (03) 6289 1227

 

Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania

 

 

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