North West Walking Club inc.

Penguin Cradle Trail


This information is correct at November 2017.

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

The track is not closed and work is continuing but there are some trees across the track and land slips that may impede your progress.

The Lobster Creek Tramway section from Dial Road to Purtons Flats has some tree and flood debris on it as well as river bank erosion that has taken away parts of the formed track. It is still passable with caution. Flood relief funds are available and work is due to commence later this month.

The Leven Canyon section between Gunns Plains and Taylors Flats has been cleared of trees but in places there are eroded river banks and land slips that have damaged the original formed track. High river levels may impede your progress.

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


Volunteers from the North West Walking Club Inc. (NWWC) and WILDCARE Friends of the Penguin Cradle Trail (PCT) have made and maintained the PCT and prepared the map and notes so that appropriately experienced and equipped bushwalkers can enjoy the scenery and experience of walking the PCT. The PCT is not regularly inspected or maintained, can be rough underfoot and varies in standard. It may be that a part of the track has been rerouted and differs from your map edition.


The PCT is managed as a remote destination for people with experience in bushwalking. The Dial Range offers good walking all year round and is more suited to beginner bushwalkers and family groups. The section from Purtons Flats to Cradle Mountain becomes progressively more difficult the further south you travel. The Leven Canyon section has side streams that are subject to sudden flooding after heavy rains and could result in a delay of up to a day or so. In this same section there are short lengths of track where people with a fear of heights may have difficulty. The section between Black Bluff and Cradle Mountain Lodge is mostly at an elevation above 900 m, therefore can be subject to fog, snow and strong winds. The track is well marked with orange triangles, marker poles and some place name signage.


There is no infrastructure on the PCT with the exception of some commercial operators in several locations as indicated in the Route Guide. Intended bushwalkers will need to buy all provisions before starting the walk. Penguin has a shopping centre with banks and a Post Office. There are limited facilities at Cradle Mountain. No other crossroads have shopping facilities nearby.


Mobile phone reception is available in places along the PCT via the Telstra network only (at the date of this publication). However, phones or any other electronic device should not be relied on as your only means of communication or navigation.


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 PCT 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 PCT 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 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 hop growing 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 PCT 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 river. Along the way, there are many tempting waterholes, and a side trip to a waterfall. The major rise in the track 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 PCT 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 PCT 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 view 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 PCT descends from Mt Beecroft. The PCT 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 PCT 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.


A 28 page colour brochure with history, warnings and safety, fauna and flora, geology, up-dated route guide and five 1:25000 scale colour maps is available from the WILDCARE shop. Money from the sales goes back into future track works.