Cradle Mountain lies 4 hours northwest of Hobart and is one of the most iconic destinations in Tasmania. While the drive is pretty far, it’s a stunning route with varying landscapes and diverse vegetation – if you choose the right one (because there are a few options!)
If you’ve come across this post, chances are you need to get from Hobart to Cradle Mountain and you’re looking for the best, most scenic route to take.
I’ve covered all of that below, including the best places to stop along the way!
The Best Route From Hobart to Cradle Mountain?
Two routes lead from Hobart to Cradle Mountain.
The first is via the National Highway which is roughly 330km. This is the primary route that appears on Google Maps and is the most popular choice with a few charming towns along the way.
Alternatively, you can take the more scenic A5 route (otherwise known as the Highlands Route) which passes through the Central Highlands. It’s 304km and offers glorious scenery and picturesque views throughout the trip.
Both options take approximately 4 hours, and while the National Highway is a more popular choice, the A5 route is off the beaten track, less busy and is my recommendation if you’re looking for the best drive from Hobart to Cradle Mountain.
Below I’ve covered the exact route I took and all the stops along the way. Pack your cameras and road trip snacks – we’re taking the A5 Central Highlands scenic drive from Hobart to Cradle Mountain!
Hobart to Great Lake
- Time needed: 2 hours driving
- Highlight: Empty roads and gorgeous scenery
The first hour of your trip follows the National Highway. But then you take a left onto the Highland Lakes Road which marks the start of the A5 route.
From there, you’re spoiled with incredible views no matter what direction you look. Wide-open fields for as far as the eye can see and untouched rolling hills.
This quiet route doesn’t get busy and there’s no traffic so it’s a peaceful drive.
2 hours after leaving Hobart, you’ll reach the Great Lake which is Australia’s second-largest freshwater lake, measuring 114km2. It sits one kilometre above sea level and has been harnessed for hydroelectric development. The Great Lake also offers excellent trout fishing.
There are a few viewpoints along the way so it’s a good time to stop and stretch your legs.
Great Lake to Deloraine
- Time needed: 45 minutes driving (extra time if you stop)
- Highlight: Driving through lush forests
From the Great Lake, the scenery and vegetation change dramatically, and the wide-open fields are replaced with lush forests.
You’ll pass Pine Lake to your left. Here, you have the option to stop and take a short walk through a trail featuring Pencil Pines which are unique to Tasmania.
After Pine Lake, you’re met with steep climbs and hairpin bends all the way to Deloraine. This is my favourite part of the drive from Hobart to Cradle Mountain. If you’re travelling during a cold spell, keep an eye on the news as these higher parts are prone to ice and snow and so there is a chance of road closures.
There’s also the option of stopping at Liffey Falls which is between the Great Lake and Deloraine. It’s a 45-minute return walk from the top car park to the falls with a trail meandering through a wet eucalypt forest with huge tree ferns.
- Time needed: 45 minutes
- Highlight: Lunch stop
Deloriane is a charming town and a great stop for an early lunch on your road trip from Hobart to Cradle Mountain.
For a delicious sandwich (and ice cream), visit Dixi Blue – the pork sandwich here is absolutely incredible. When you’re done, hop across the street and take a stroll alongside the Meander River.
Deloraine has also made a name for itself thanks to its arts and crafts scene. With 5 galleries selling local and regional art, it’s worth checking out what all the fuss is about.
- Time needed: 45 minutes
- Highlight: Murals
Sheffield is one of the most iconic towns in Tasmania and is easily recognised by its life-sized murals on all the buildings. It’s a quaint little town and you won’t need more than 30 minutes to stroll through the quiet streets to admire the art.
Sheffield is also a great stop to top up on food and supplies. There’s only one basic grocery near Cradle Mountain and the selection of food isn’t very big so rather get everything you need here.
Mole Creek Caves
- Time needed: 45 minutes
- Highlight: The incredible caves
From Sheffield, you can either go straight to Cradle Mountain, or you can take a detour to Mole Creek Caves which is a short 30-minute drive away.
These fascinating caves offer sparkling crystals and lavish colours with a variety of reflective pools and abandoned river passages on show.
The tours run for 45 minutes, and bookings need to be made in advance. The last tour starts at 3pm, so keep that in mind when planning your Hobart to Cradle Mountain itinerary.
- Time needed: 2 days
- Highlight: Cradle Mountain (of course)
Finally, you’ve reached your destination and the highlight of your drive from Hobart to Cradle Mountain: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park itself.
Aim to get here by 4pm which is just enough time to squeeze in one of two of the best Cradle Mountain short walks near Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. Both The Enchanted Walk and King Billy Trail are easy, 30-minute trails that meander through magical, mossy forests and wind through buttongrass moorland.
Then, pop into The Tavern at Cradle Mountain Lodge and enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fire before making your way to your accommodation.
Other Stops Along the Drive From Hobart to Cradle Mountain
If you choose to take the National Highway from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, there are a few historical towns on the way.
As you’ll soon realise, this route is more about history, while the A5 is all about nature and deserted roads.
Richmond is a historic town 30km’s outside Hobart. The village is home to several heritage-listed landmarks and is easily recognised by its Instagrammable Stone Bridge, which is the oldest stone arch bridge in Australia.
It’s incredibly picturesque and a mecca for photographers and history buffs. It’s also part of the Coal River Valley wine region.
You could still include Richmond on your Hobart to Cradle Mountain drive itinerary if you’re taking the A5 route, but I skipped it as I didn’t want to get to Cradle Mountain too late.
The sandstone buildings, most of which were built in the 1800’s, have put Oatlands on the map. You’ll drive past Callington Mill, an operational windmill built nearly 200 years ago!
Oatlands is also a great stop for a snack as the baked goods here are hard to beat.
Famous for its stunning Red Bridge that crosses the Elizabeth River, Campbell Town marks the halfway point between Hobart and Launceston.
Launceston is Tasmania’s second-largest city and sits on the edge of River Tamar. There is so much beauty around Launceston that you need to spend the night here to really experience it.
Tips on How to Get From Hobart to Cradle Mountain
- Try to get an early start to your day. I recommend leaving Hobart by 7am.
- Rather than using public transport to get from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, it’s best to rent a car. There is so much to do and see in Cradle Mountain and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area and you’re going to want to have the freedom to move around as you please.
Are you planning your trip to Cradle Mountain? Hit me up with any questions in the comments section below.
Looking to explore Tasmania? Check out my other posts