The History of Cradle Mountain

The Cradle Valley in Tasmania Australia was carved out by glacial ice action about 20,000 years ago. Around 10,000 years ago the ice melted revealing what we now see. The Cradle Valley of today has evolved slowly, the most obvious plant community is Buttongrass moorland which favours the high rainfall of 2800 millimetres per year.

There are many other species of plant life in this Tasmanian mountain rainforest, some of the more well known are king billy pines which were logged on Mt. Kate at Ronny Creek to supply timber for wooden minesweepers for the Australian navy.

Nothofagus Gunnii which is commonly called Fagus, is the only native deciduous tree in Australia and its leaves change colour in autumn, usually at the end of April to gold, orange and to deep red before falling. The Fagus is mainly found around Crater Lake.

There is also Pandani's, a palm like tree seen at Ronny Creek and the far end of Dove Lake, along with Waratahs (Telopea) and Mountain Pepper bush (Lanceolata) which are found inside and outside the National park.

Cradle Mountain was named by Joseph Fossey in 1826.

Weindorfers Tower was named by Franz Malcher who was the first to traverse the full length of Cradle Mountain from Little Horn to the summit.

1905 was a big year for exploring the Cradle Mountain region of Tasmania and saw the naming of Little Horn (C.F. Spurling), Hansons Peak (after Bert Hanson who died of exposure on a hunting trip), and Lake Lilla by S. Spurling after his sister.

Crater Lake is 60 metres deep and was named in 1905 for its resemblance to a volcanic crater. Dove Lake was named by Gustav Weindorfer after an official of the Van Diemen company.

Gustav Weindorfer was a pioneer of the Cradle Mountain region and also named Marions Lookout after his sister in law Mrs. Daniel Cowle.

Smithies Peak (Formerly Brown Mountain) was named in 1935 after F. Smithies.

Born in Austria in 1874, Gustav Weindorfer came to Australia in 1900. He met Kate Cowle in Victoria and they both moved to Tasmania where they married in 1906, spending their honeymoon on Mount Roland.

They bought a 100 acre farm at Kindred and settled down to farming. In 1909 Weindorfer and Charlie Sutton camped at Dove Lake and on the 4th of January 1910 Gustav, Kate and Ronnie Smith climbed Cradle Mountain. Kate Weindorfer thus became the first white woman to climb Cradle Mountain. As they rested on the 1545 metre summit Gustav Weindorfer proclaimed "This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it."

Gustav Weindorfer bought land in Cradle Valley in the late summer of 1910. In 1912 he started building his alpine chalet Waldheim, which means "forest home" and received his first guests in late 1912.

Kate Weindorfer died in April 1916 and Gustav Weindorfer died in May 1932, but during his lifetime his vision of a National Park became a reality when in 1922 an area of 158,000 acres from Cradle Mountain to Lake St.Clair was proclaimed a "Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary."