Views to the iconic Cradle Mountain are inspiring as you set out from Dove Lake. There’s no shortage of options. You can take the Lake Rodway Track over Hansons Peak, past the Twisted Lakes (where the Fagus glows orange in the autumn), or climb steeply to Marions Lookout where you will intersect the Overland Track and be greeted by the stunning Crater Lake. Note: if you take Lake Rodway Track, you can choose to walk across the Face Track, under Cradle’s gaze, or you can go to Lake Rodway and climb to the Overland from there.
Barn Bluff’s rocky figure will captivate you as it looms elegantly above the button grass meadows of the Cradle Cirque. Excitement grows as you leave the Overland and head express for the peak. After traversing its gently rolling foothill, a chopped up mass of boulders ensues. The way forward is cairned, but it can take some careful searching. The boulder hop is great fun, but it can be very dangerous for walkers inexperienced or physically impaired.
If the weather is bad, my advice is not to climb. Both times I have climbed it in bad weather, but I’m a bit crazy.
Huge rocky pillars tower above you, watching you pick your way up the mountain. It’s like a maze as you work higher through the boulders, stopping every once in a while to scout out the next cairn. There are multiple sets of cairns up there. You might get a good one, or you might get a bad one. If you run into some sketchy ledges, be sure to use common sense. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Look back down the boulder field, and appreciate how far you’ve come.
If you’ve made it that far, the world will soon open up and you can hop across the ridge until you reach the top. I have only read about the extensive views from the summit. I haven’t yet encountered them. It’s easy to imagine the panorama, with views back towards Cradle, and to Lake Will sparkling below. Perhaps I’ll be third time lucky. The misty void that I have received is eerie but no less spectacular.
After you’ve soaked up the views (or stared long enough into the white abyss), it’s time to head home. Leaving the boulders, it’s a relief to feel level ground beneath your feet. Take in the stunning vistas of this pristine alpine paradise as you walk out. Reflect on the day’s adventure. If you’re anything like me, it will leave you a lasting impression.
Need to Know
Length: 22.2 km
Time: 9 – 10 hours (Scott Kilvert Hut at Lake Rodway is a good camping spot if you want to do it over 2 days)
Grade: Difficult / Grade 5 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Park: Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park
Closest Town: Cradle Mountain Village
Path Taken: Dove Lake Car Park – Lake Rodway Track – Overland Track – Barn Bluff Track – Overland Track – Dove Lake Car Park.
Car Access: Cradle Mountain is located approximately two hours west of Launceston. You will need to drive to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, park there and catch the shuttle bus to the trailhead at Dove Lake. If completing the hike in two days, you can leave your car at the Visitor Centre overnight.
Further Info: You will also need a Tasmanian National Parks Pass in order to enter the National Park.
Map: You’ll need TASMAP’s Cradle 1:25000 topographic map.
Have you visited Barn Bluff? Got it on your bucket list? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.
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