With incredible views of the Cradle peaks, Dove Lake Circuit remains one of Tasmania's most popular walks. The easy walking track, named by Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Services as one of the top 60 Great Short Walks, winds around the lake at the northern end of Lake St. Clair National Park. About 90 minutes from Devonport, Dove Lake marks the start of Cradle Mountain's world-famous Overland Track.
It's possible to do just part or all of the 6km walk, starting from either end of the circuit. One end is an easy boardwalk among the trees, with hidden lakeside beaches and all sorts of unique flowers. Glacier Rock creates a perfect lookout point of the lake as well as a testimony to the actions of past glaciers in the regions.
At the southern end of Dove Lake, about halfway through the circuit, you enter the Ballroom Forest. The track weaves through the cool temperate rainforest's ancient myrtle-beech trees and over clear streams. A moss carpet covers the forest floor and climbs up the majestic trees, creating a stunning scene. One can only image how enchanting the forest could become with a layer of light snow.
The track on the Lake's western side, is steeper and a little more difficult than the other half, but leads to the iconic boatshed. The now vacant boatshed, used up until the 1960s, was built in 1940 by Cradle Mountain's first ranger, Lionell Connell, out of largely King Billy pine.
Tasmanian weather conditions can change quickly and often, especially in the mountain ranges. Due to the changing weather conditions, park rangers suggest you should wear warm, but removable layers. Within the two and a half hours we did the track, we experienced freezing winds, a drizzle of rain, cloudy weather and sunshine. A few days after we did the walk, it snowed at Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake, so be prepared for anything. The walk is typically 1-2 hours, but there were plenty of benches along the way perfect for our lunch break. The closest drinking water and toilet facilities are in the carpark at the start of the walk. As with any bush walk, it is wise to carry water and some food during the walk.
We didn't see any wildlife during the circuit, but we did see wombats and pademelons on shorter tracks closer to the visitor centre. Echidnas, tiger snakes, platypus and quolls are common to the area. Tasmanian Devils have been spotted swimming across Dove Lake, even in the snow.
To enter Tasmania's national parks, you must have a valid park entry permit. A boom gate controls the number of vehicles accessing the park, but a shuttle bus runs daily from the Visitor Centre to the start of the walking tracks.