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The ruins are open to the public year round but choose a clear day to get the full effect of the skyline views. The ruins are incredible during a sunset in the summer or after a snow fall in the winter.
May through October
Most of the day visitors come for the Painted Cliffs. However, the hike can be a bit crowded during the peak season in summer. The summit is pretty small there is just space for a few hikers. For hiking, the very best months are from December to March/April. These are the driest months. From May to October less busy. The winter months from June to August can be pretty chilly especially during the night with temps around 7°C. It depends on you if you prefer warmer temperatures and less rain or fewer people on the island. If it's too rainy the last part of the climb might be slippery. November (end of spring) most of the plants and flowers are in bloom, but it's also one of the wettest months.
The ferry is going from Triabunna to Darlington, Maria Island. This island is very popular, and the ferry was often fully booked in summer. Now the service is offered more often. It’s a big advantage to visit the island by bike.
For renting it has to be booked together with the ferry ticket. It’s a bit pricey $ 33 for adults and $ 20 for children for each bike and day. Check the ferry timetable and return fares
September-April: The ferry is going up to five times daily depending on demands and bookings.
May-August (winter): The ferry is going up to three times daily on five days. It's not going on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The ferry service is offered more often from April 2017 on. Even more day visitors are coming to the island. During summer, up to several hundred tourists visit the island each week. From now on the winter is the best time to visit Maria Island. When the ferry left the island in the afternoon, it becomes more tranquil and peaceful. If you arrive on Monday or Wednesday, you have to stay for two nights at the campground. The big advantage; the next day only a few people are on the island. Still no ferry transfer on Tuesday and Thursday. The hike itself might be not very crowded in spring, fall, and winter.
Maria Island has a mild climate without frost in winter. The average summer day temperature is around 21°C / 70°F. The driest month is January although rain showers often occur the whole year. One of the wettest months is November. May and October are a bit cooler but also worth a try. Night temps in winter and spring are below 10°C / 50°F. During our stay in November 2016, the night temperature was around 6°C / 43°F.
This is probably a year round hike but only as long as the weather is decent. The best time with least rainfall is from mid April till the end of May. Can be a bit crowded during summertime. I would recommend to go in the afternoon to experience fine sunset on the way back (of course when the sun is out:-))
Hiking in the Cradle Mountain National Park is very popular throughout the year. However, in the winter you have to deal with snow, and despite more pleasant temperatures in the summer, the weather is even more unpredictable. However, snow can also occur in December as it happened in 2019. During the summer Cradle is pretty busy with the highest accommodation rates.
Update for Summer 2020
Due to the increasing rate of visitors in Cradle, police presence is raised from this week, January 9th to late April. The police's duty is to control the traffic, which can be an issue during summer, but also for public safety, crime, and in case of an emergency.
Weather by Seasons
The best time to visit Cradle Mountain is from December to March. January and February experience the least amount of rainfall. These months with the most stable weather are also the busiest. Visitor numbers are increasing annually; November and April are less crowded. Keep in mind; the weather at Cradle is changeable and unpredictable throughout the year.
Wildflowers are abundant during spring and early summer. Tasmanian Waratah and Banksia are flowering which is beautiful to see. Echidnas can be seen; getting active after hibernation in winter. Day temps range between 10°C-15°C / 50°F-59°F on average. October is one of the windiest months of the year. We experienced snow and hail in November on a higher elevation with 0°C / 32°F while hiking.
More stable weather from December to April with warmer daily temps on average around 15°C-18°C / 59°F-64°F. The "warmest" months are January and February. Less precipitation from January to March. However, the weather is unpredictable. Be prepared for 4 seasons in one day, even during summer. If you like camping, be prepared for one-digit night temps throughout the year. Even during summer, expect snow as well. If hiking the Overland Track carry warm clothes as well. In December 2019, three hikers suffered hypothermia. Luckily, all of them got rescued.
Autumn (April - May)
In April and May, you see the spectacular range of autumn colours from gold to deep red. The deciduous beech tree also called fagus is the icing on the cake until losing the leaves. The tree is endemic to Australia. Daily temps are around 10°C-15°C / 50°F-59°F on average. Nights are freezing cold between 3°C-5°C / 37°F-41°F. Already increasing rainfall in April.
The winter is the wettest time of the year. Snow is common usually from July to September, with an average daily temp of 6°C / 43°F. It can get even colder and freezing during the night (below 0°C / 32°F). Be prepared for minus degrees in the night while camping. The coldest months are July and August. Hiking can be difficult and strenuous, depending on the amount of snow. If there is heavy snowfall the road to Dove Lake is closed for 2WD. May and September are a little warmer. However, it is not uncommon to experience snow in these months at Dove Lake and at higher elevations.
Top Tip for Cradle Mountain Hiking: Check the weather forecast and conditions before you venture into the National Park. Check out our Weather Link or stop by the visitor centre.
Cradle is the second most visited National Parks in Tassie, attracting more than 300.000 people each year and visitor numbers are increasing annually. You almost don't experience any crowds in the low season during winter. During summer, it's busy with visitors from around the world, especially at Dove Lake. Longer and more strenuous hikes are less frequented. To get a memorable experience visit the park early morning. It gets less busy again in the late afternoon. The busiest months are from December to March nowadays. November and April are still busy but bearable.
Top Tip for the Peak Season: Start your hike before dawn with headlights and enjoy a breathtaking sunrise from Marians Lookout.
Shuttle Bus Service and Parking
There is one car park at Dove Lake and one at Ronny Creek. Arriving early is recommended. Otherwise, shuttle buses have to be taken from the Visitor Center or the Interpretation Center. For National Park Pass holders; the shuttle bus is for free. The last bus leaves Dove Lake in the afternoon. Due to the increasing number of visitors, new bus service also for people with disabilities was introduced in 2018. When these medium-sized buses operate from 8 am to 6 pm cars can't get to the parking. If you want to hike independently, you have to be at Dove Lake parking before 8 am.
The best month for the magnificent view of the rice fields is definitely September: The rice fields are still green with patches of golden color. A truly magical view and one of the best times for photographers.
Our Monthly Guide
March - April - May (Spring)
A good time to visit Sa Pa: Dry season, pleasant weather, warm. Excellent for trekking. It’s still low season without masses of domestic tourists. In April/May you can experience blooming flowers but not the amazing lush green (and later in fall yellow tinted) rice fields. The rice fields start to show their real beauty later in June. However, this is a great time to explore the area and to get in touch with the locals / different ethnic minorities.
June - July - August (Summer)
Not recommended. Rainy season with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. It’s hot and humid. However, the rice fields appear in an amazing green color. It’s also very busy as it’s peak tourist season for domestic visitors.
September - October - November (Fall)
Perfect time! September can still be rainy but often short and not as much as in summer. Otherwise the temperatures are pleasant and great for hiking: Sept./Oct average temp.: 17°C / 63°F. During these months the weather is perfect for sightseeing: Clear blue skies with the sun shining through the huge mountains resulting in outstanding views of the vibrant landscape. In September harvesting of the rice fields begins. Early October the most rice is usually already harvested, taking away the impressive September rice terrace view. In November it gets colder and the rice is significantly ‘reduced’ but it’s still a great month for outdoor activities.
December - January - February (Winter)
Cold, freezing and foggy especially in December and January. It can get bitterly cold (5°C / 40°F) and the views are often limited to 20 - 30 metres due to fog. However, if you don’t mind the coldness there are magic moments in the winter: When the fog clears it can become quite surreal and magical at the same time. Some of the best photos are taken during this season.