Hiking events

Incredible archival footage shows how Tasmania’s iconic Cradle Mountain hike has changed over the past century

By Candice Marshall

May 20, 2022

One hundred years ago, what we know today as Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP was first declared a protected area.

Now one of Australia’s most famous national parks and home to the iconic Overland Track, Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park celebrates its centenary. The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service has released archival footage – not quite 100 years ago, but from 1938 – showing some of the earliest keen adventurers taking on rugged hiking routes.

Highlighting how much the national park and its infrastructure have changed over the years, the video compilation features side-by-side footage of hikers in 1938, and now, exploring the same sections of trail:

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP as it looked in 1938 and today. Video credit: Russell Scott/Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

“In recognizing this milestone, however, we must also recognize that this landscape has been nurtured by Indigenous Peoples for tens of thousands of years,” said the Acting Secretary of the Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment. , Jason Jacobi.

“I want to give special thanks to everyone who has played a key role in the history of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. From Gustav Weindorfer’s original vision to the staff, volunteers and operators who championed that vision – it is your passion and love for this place that has ensured its protection, while providing extraordinary experiences for all who visit it.

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP, Tasmania. Photo Credit: Room the Agency/Alamy

The modern European connection to the wilderness and the journey to make it a national park began with an Austrian named Gustav Weindorfer and his Australian wife, Kate.

In the early 1900s, the Weindorfers purchased 200 acres of land in Cradle Valley near Cradle Mountain, and by 1912 the two nature-loving pioneers had built a rustic alpine cabin.

Named ‘Waldheim’, meaning ‘Forest House’, the cottage served as lodgings for intrepid explorers of the area and, after Kate’s tragic untimely death in 1916, as Gustav’s private home, undergoing numerous extensions and reconstructions over the years. years.

A replica cabin now stands on the original site, inside which are a series of exhibits telling the story of the Weindorfers, including how they advocated for the preservation of the wilderness they are from fell in love.

A replica of Waldheim’s original cabin in Cradle Valley, inside Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP, Tasmania. Photo Credit: Philip Game/Alamy

This week’s centenary celebrations mark the events of May 16, 1922, when 158,000 acres of land between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair was proclaimed a ‘scenic reserve and wildlife sanctuary’.

In 1927, 63,990 hectares, including Cradle Mountain, were set aside.

Then in 1971 the reserve became what is now known as Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair NP.

Jason says the centenary is a time to reflect on the important history of the national park, while looking to the future – mindful of the challenges that may and will arise.

“Simply put, I believe our role and responsibility for the future remains aligned with how Indigenous peoples cared for and valued this land, but also how the more recent custodians thought it should. appreciated – to ensure that it will always be a place of Outstanding Universal Value and a place “for all, for all times”.

“I sincerely hope that we can look back on this landscape for the next 100 years and be proud of our work to protect and present the park in the minds of all who care for it.”

Related: Slides reveal Tasmania’s Overland Track in the 1950s