On 16 May, we marked the 100th anniversary of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park being proclaimed as a protected area in Tasmania.
Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania Acting Secretary Jason Jacobi said the anniversary is an important milestone for one of the world’s most renowned and celebrated national parks.
“In recognising this milestone, we must however also acknowledge that this landscape has been nurtured by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years,” Mr Jacobi said.
“I wish to pay special thanks to all those who have played a key role in the story of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. From the original vision of Gustav Weindorfer, to the staff, volunteers and operators who have championed that vision - it is your passion and love for this place that has ensured that it has remained protected, as well as providing extraordinary experiences for everyone who visits.”
Cradle Mountain has seen a lot of changes over the years. The modern, European recognition of its significance began with a rustic alpine chalet named ‘Waldheim’ that was developed by early pioneers Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912.
In 1922, the reservation of land began, with 158,000 acres between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair proclaimed a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary. Then, in 1927, 63,990 hectares, including Cradle Mountain, were set aside as a reserve.
In 1971, ‘The Reserve’ became what is now known as the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
In the 1930s, 530 entries were recorded in the visitor books at Waldheim Chalet and, over time, visitation and growth in the park during the late ’80s and ’90s led visitors driving their cars almost to the edge of Dove Lake.
“Through considered and deliberate decisions by various park managers over many decades, we have brought these impacts back to the edge of the park, reduced the footprint of vehicles and delivered a more sensitive, authentic, and contemporary experience,” Mr Jacobi said.
“There have also been significant improvements in recent years including a new visitor centre, renovated walker huts and shelters, a gateway and parking facilities on the edge of the park (not inside it), and the introduction of the hybrid shuttle bus system. Coupled with extensive improvements to the walking track network, it is the considered master-planning and thinking that has gone into these changes that will serve to further protect the park for the next 100 years.
“The love Tasmanians have for this park was also demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as locals enjoyed rediscovering a park many had not visited since their childhood. Tasmanians reconnecting to Cradle and Lake St Clair was an important positive to emerge from the State being isolated from the rest of the world.”
The anniversary is a chance to reflect on the important history of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, while also looking forward – alert to the challenges that may, and will, emerge.
“Put simply, I believe that our role and responsibility for the future remains aligned with how Aboriginal people cared for and valued this land, but also how the more recent custodians thought it should be enjoyed - to ensure that it will always be a place of Outstanding Universal Value and a place ‘for all people, for all time’. I sincerely hope that that we can look back on this landscape in the next 100 years and be proud of our work to protect and present the park in the spirit of all those who care for it,” Mr Jacobi said.