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Lake St Clair: Walk the figure-of-8 loop

19 May 2011 2 Comments

 Lake St Clair Cradle Mountain National Park walksLake St Clair, at the southern end of the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, is the deepest lake in Australia.

Its forested shores, mountainous surrounds and panoramic views on tranquil waterscapes are best discovered on foot: hiking trails begin from the Visitor Center, just a stone’s throw from the main car park.

The figure-of-8 loop combines 3 of the park’s best short walks into a slightly longer, 90 minutes circuit stroll on easy ground. This is a great one for families!

From the Visitor Center, an old logging road leads through open woodlands to Watersmeet, where the Cuvier and Hugel rivers meet in a bumbling rush of crystal clear water.

At Watersmeet, the path forks. On the left, the Larmairremener tabelti Aboriginal Cultural Heritage walk’s elegant signage will enable you to learn more about the area’s indigenous people as you explore their traditional land, through forest and buttongrass plains. On the right, the path leads across the river to the lake shore at Platypus Bay. Along the trail, wooden walls have been erected to serve a double purpose: signs on the walls will teach you about the elusive platypus, while holes in the wood will allow for a chance to spy one of those lovely creatures swimming in the gentle waves below.

Viewing is best done at dusk or dawn, when platypuses are at their most active. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars!

Whether you pick left or right, the two walking tracks meet again further on, allowing you to weave them together as a figure-of-8 loop. Keep your binoculars handy during the hike: Lake St Clair is a great place to spot some of Tasmania’s unique endemic birds, such as the yellow wattlebird, strong-billed honeyeater or yellow-throated honeyeater. Look for them in flower-laden trees and bushes like the beautiful banksias.

Because weather in the western wilderness can always be unpredictable, even by peaceful Lake St Clair, bring a jumper and a raincoat as well as a hat and sunscreen. Packing some snacks is always a good idea – or take a picnic and top off your walk with a scenic lunch by the shore!

Stephanie Cotteret is a freelance travel writer and photographer from France. She specializes in writing about Australia, where she has lived for several years, and is a regular contributor to Australia-Australie.com , France’s leading website for Working Holidaymakers and backpackers. Check out her photography portfolio online , or contact her on toothbrushnomads[at]gmail[dot]com.

Image: Lazillion via Flickr

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