On a recent holiday in Tasmania we stayed at Lake St Clair National Park. At the suggestion of a ranger we did the Mt Rufus Walk which is a day hike to the summit of Mt Rufus. From there we were treated to stunning 360 degree views of the Cradle Mt. – Lake St. Clair National Park and Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

Stunning 360 degree views from Mt. Rufus. The track is leading towards Mt Hugel and Shadow Lake.
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Stunning 360 degree views from Mt. Rufus. The track in the centre of the photo is leading towards Mt Hugel and Shadow Lake.

Lake St. Clair Lodge

We opted for the convenience of staying in one of the eco-cabins that make up Lake St Clair Lodge. Lake St. Clair Lodge is one of only 2 resorts in the world that has been built within a World Heritage listed area.

Lake St. Clair Lodge
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Cabin with lake views at Lake St. Clair Lodge.

There are several different options of cabins ranging from studios to larger cabins for families. If your budget stretches that far then I would recommend getting a lake view cabin as you get lovely views from your bedroom and verandah. A buffet breakfast is included with your accommodation.

If you are on a tight budget then they also offer powered and unpowered camping sites for tents and caravans. The cabins and campsites are all located within a peaceful bush setting along the edge of the lake and within a short walk of the Lodge facilities.

For hikers finishing the Overland Track (a 6-7 day, 80km hike from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair) there is backpacker style of accommodation as well as free shower and toilet facilities.

The lodge offers a restaurant, café and bar. The prices are a bit expensive but not too bad considering the reasonably remote location. You can get a very tasty meal at the café for between $20-$25. The restaurant will set you back about $35 for a main meal.

Opposite the restaurant is a Visitors Centre. The rangers are very helpful and are happy to give advice on walking trails and the local wildlife. They can also assist you with purchasing your National Parks Pass.

Mt Rufus Circuit

The Mt Rufus Circuit starts at the visitors centre and proceeds along the Watersmeet Nature Walk through the Peppermint Gum Forest……and yes, it is as pretty as it sounds. You then turn left at the clearly signed Mt Rufus Summit Track junction. If you were to keep going straight instead of turning left, you would reach the Platypus Bay Circuit and the Overland Track.

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The hike to Mt Rufus Summit has two options. You can either:

  • hike the Mt Rufus Circuit which is a 19km hike (allow 7-8hrs) and takes you from Cynthia Bay to the summit of Mount Rufus, then on to Shadow Lake and back to Cynthia Bay,
  • or you can skip Shadow Lake and just return the same way you came which is a 15km hike (allow 5-6hrs).

Both options are Level 4 hikes and will take you from 737m to 1416m elevation.

The terrain on the hike is quite varied and ranges from Eucalypt Forest to lovely mossy gullies of temperate rainforest as well as sub-alpine forest dominated by beautiful snow gums.

Click on a photo to view slideshow.

Australian Native Animals at Lake St. Clair

While on our hike we saw the occasional wallaby hopping across the track as well as quite a few parrots. There was also plenty of cube-shaped poo that showed wombats were active in the area but unfortunately we didn’t see any.

During our stay John spent considerable time searching for Platypus in Platypus Bay without any success. He did however have a close, though thankfully not too close, encounter with a Red Bellied Black Snake.

We found an Echidna behind our cabin and John saw an Eastern Quoll while out on a jog. It was quite ironic to stumble across an Eastern Quoll in the carpark yet have no success finding one while on a ranger led walk searching for Quolls in Mt Field National Park.

While doing some research for this blog I found that the University of Adelaide’s Echidna Conservation Science Initiative (Echidna CSI) are studying the DNA of Echidna poo to learn more about these iconic native animals. They would like you to take photos of any Echidnas you see using their ‘Echidna CSI’ App as well as send in samples of their long cylindrical poo for testing.

Stunning 360 degree views from Mt Rufus, Tasmania

I found the 680m climb to the summit challenging but well worth the effort. We were rewarded with stunning 360 degree views from Mt Rufus of the surrounding countryside. It is such a wild and rugged landscape with mountains as far as the eye can see. There were views of Mt Olympus, Mt Ida, Mt Hugel and Little Hugel, the Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchman’s Cap and the King William Range. There were also views of Lake St. Clair and the headwaters of the Franklyn River.

John and Susan on the Summit of Mt. Rufus
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John and Susan on the Summit of Mt. Rufus Tasmania

When we set out that morning we had no clear plans but thought we would see how the day progressed. It turned out to be a rather warm 36 degrees Celsius made worse as there was little shade for most of the hike. After a short rest on the summit we decided to skip Shadow Lake and head directly back to Cynthia Bay for a swim. Our drinking water was getting low and we were reluctant to to take the long way back.

The thought of a swim in Lake St. Clair spurred me on and we made very good time down the mountain. The water was crystal clear and refreshingly icy cold…a well-deserved reward after a long hot day!

Lake St Clair
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Susan doing a poor impersonation of a Bond girl after a quick swim in Lake St. Clair!

We really enjoyed our time at Lake St Clair. It is not quite up to the standard of Cradle Mountain (though lets face it that is a high standard to achieve) but it is definitely worth a visit.

If you have yet to visit Cradle Mountain, it is on my list of 20 Must Do Activities in Tasmania.


A few facts about Lake St. Clair and Mt Rufus Tasmania

  • Lake St Clair was carved by glaciers over a period of 2 million years and is the deepest lake in Australia at 167m.
  • The aboriginal people called it Lake Leeawuleena, meaning ‘sleeping water’.
  • Lake St Clair is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which makes up 1/5 of Tasmania.
  • Mt Rufus is significant to the aboriginal community as a type of rock found there (Cherry Hornfels) was used to make hand tools.
  • Mt Rufus is the 39th tallest mountain in Tasmania.

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Stunning 360 degree views from Mount Rufus, Tasmania


Stunning 360 degree views from Mt Rufus Tasmania
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What is your favourite hike? Leave a comment below.