Penguin Cradle Trail

This information is correct at Sept 2016. We hope to have an update available early December 2016.

North West Tasmania suffered a rain event in June 2016 that caused major flooding in many areas. The Penguin Cradle Trail has also suffered damage. The Leven River catchment has been hard hit and in places the water was 6 to 8 metres above normal river levels. Bridges have been damaged or missing in the Gunns Plains / Loongana area.

The track is not closed however there are trees across the track and land slips that may impede your progress. Some detouring will be required around affected areas and walking off track is a possibility and this should be considered when planning your trip. It will be some time before a full assessment and clearing is complete. The track from Dial Road near Penguin to Taylors Flats at the base of Black Bluff has been affected.

The section of the PCT from Penguin to Gunns Plains has an alternate route suggested to bypass the Lobster Creek Tramway. The Tramway is from Dial Road to Purtons Flats. It has some tree and flood debris on it as well as river bank erosion that has taken away parts of the formed track.

The use of road transport between Gunns Plains and Taylors Flats at Loongana is suggested. There are a lot of trees across the track as well as eroded river banks that in places have severely damaged the original formed track. The condition of Blackwood Camp and the track south to Griffiths Ridge is not known at this time.

(see maps below for more detail)

The section from Taylors Flats across the Black Bluff Range to Cradle Mountain was unaffected by floods.

Last year’s proposed PWS fuel reduction burn (see below) in the Speeler Plains area didn’t go ahead and is now planned for sometime in Spring 2016.

Warnings and Disclaimer

Volunteers from the North West Walking Club Inc have made & maintained the Penguin – Cradle Trail and prepared this map and these notes so that appropriately experienced and equipped walkers can enjoy the scenery and experience of walking the Trail. This map has not been prepared to accurate scale. The Trail is not regularly inspected and maintained, can be rough underfoot and varies in standard. Track conditions can change rapidly due to natural events like storms, floods, fallen trees, and erosion and track markers can fall down or be obscured. It may be that a part of the track has been rerouted after this map is made. Some parts of the Trail are steep or exposed to rapidly changing potentially extreme weather conditions or can become slippery or otherwise dangerous. These dangers increase if you and your party are not adequately equipped, experienced and fit for the walk you plan and for the risks inherent in walking in the areas through which the Trail passes. Your safety (and that of your party) on the Trail is entirely your responsibility. You use this map and notes and the Trail at your own risk. The North West Walking Club disclaims all liability arising in any way (including from any negligence of the Club or any of its members) from the use by anyone of this map, the notes or the Trail.

A Walk with Variety

Tasmania has become the bushwalking Mecca of Australia. Most walkers intent on an extended walk head for the Overland Track through the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair National Park. This has led to the problems of overcrowding and overuse. For those seeking a quieter time and a more challenging bushwalk with different but still beautiful Tasmanian scenery, the North West Walking Club has developed the Penguin Cradle Trail. The complete walk is over a distance of 76km, and it is recommended that a party allow five to seven days for the trip. Crossroads provide access at a few points, allowing shorter sections to be explored. The Trail starts at the coast, and takes you though some rural areas and much seemingly untouched open woodland and rainforest. Combine these with rugged mountain ranges, a canyon with a wild river running through it and some idyllic lakes with vistas of snow capped peaks. Add waterfalls, ancient conifers, wildflowers and clean water with your lungs ventilated by Tasmania’s standard air quality, the purest in Australia, and you have a bushwalk featuring some of the best experiences available in Tasmania. Quiet campsites ensure that “million miles from care” feeling.




The Trail starts just outside the coastal town of Penguin and mostly follows creeks and the Leven River through the Dial Range. There are occasional crests to provide views. Vegetation alternates between open woodland and rainforest. Along this section of the Leven River, the water is deep, slow-moving and peaceful. After a night of rain, the River may rise a metre or so, making it a truly wild river. Side trips (listed separately) make for spectacular deviations and provide vistas of coast and rolling farmland beyond the Range. A variety of wildflowers such as pink or white epacris can be found along the track on wooded slopes and manferns and batwing ferns line rainforest gullies.


Gunns Plains is a verdant dairy and hopgrowing area set in a small enclosed valley. The Plains feature an extensive limestone cave system, part of which is developed for public inspection. South of Gunns Plains, the Leven River takes on a wild character. The Trail narrows as it enters rainforest in the steep Leven valley. The walk follows the course of the River, sometimes along its banks, sometimes rising to provide views of the Leven. Along the way, there are many tempting waterholes, and a side trip to a waterfall. The major rise in the Trail is to pass around the Leven Canyon; it provides excellent views of Black Bluff and the timbered ridge of the Loongana Range. A short side trip off the Penguin Cradle Trail allows you to look down into the Leven Canyon itself. This is one of the spectacles of the walk, a deep chasm carved by the Leven River through the Loongana Range.


South of the Canyon, the Trail continues to follow the Leven River, but now it goes past patches of farmland until it reaches the climb up Black Bluff. The ascent of the Bluff heralds a complete change of scenery. Paddys Lake is set picturesquely under the summit block of the mountain and is edged by Tasmanian conifers. After the Lake, the predominant subalpine heathland is open, allowing for easy walking through seasonal wildflowers such as boronia and richea. Progressing along the Range, panoramic views of the North West Coast slowly disappear as the mountains of the Overland Track come closer. The viewfield takes in the rugged West Coast ranges and the Vale of Belvoir.


The final destination has been in view for some time along the Black Bluff Range, but you lose sight of it as the Trail descends from Mt Beecroft. The Penguin Cradle Trail once more enters a world of valleys, waterfalls and interesting vegetation. Groves of pandani are passed, and the way is made through rainforest of myrtle and King Billy pine. The last section of the Trail is along a well-used track to the Cradle Mountain Lodge. Wonderful recreation, delights for the eye, peace to sooth a furrowed brow and nourishment for the soul. What more could anyone desire! Come along and see for yourself.


Route Guide and Maps

The following downloadable high quality maps and a 18 page route guide of the Penguin – Cradle trail, North West Tasmania can be freely downloaded and used for private purposes only.
The express written permission of the North West Walking Club Inc. is required if the maps are to be used for any other purpose.

The maps of Penguin – Cradle trail are composed of four separate sections as shown in the locality map opposite. The download is PDF format (2.76 Meg) and takes about 15 minutes to download at 30kbps. The best way to print the guide is to print the EVEN pages first in a printers regular text mode (pages 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18) then turn them over and arrange the order of pages so they can print the ODD pages on their respective opposite side.

Then print the first 5 ODD pages (1,3,5,7,9) while still in the printer’s text mode, then changing to the printer’s mode to colour and photo or high definition to print the last 4 ODD pages containing the maps (11,13,15,17).
That is of course if your printer is colour and has the quality to print the maps clearly! If you are unable to print the maps clearly then you can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the club and we will send the 4 maps. If you want an entire route guide sent then you can send 6x50c stamps with your address, in an envelope to the club.

Click Here for 18 Page Maps and Route Guide Download(2.76Meg PDF Format)

Either Adobe Reader (35.5MB) or Foxit (3.5MB) is required to read PDF files