Reaching depths of nearly 700 feet, not only is Lake St Clair the deepest lake in Australia, it may very well be the most beautiful. Set at an elevation of 2,400 feet, this cobalt lake and its forest-lined shores make up the aquatic pearl of Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. The distant peak of Mt Olympus towers above the shoreline as visitors dip their toes in the cool waters,. Though not as tall as the park’s Mt Ossa (which, at 5,400 feet, is the tallest mountain in Tasmania), the jagged spire of Mt Olympus manages to dominate the lakeshore’s skyline.
Besides the lake, the entire area is famous for housing some of the best hikes on the island. The six-day Overland Trail has its southern terminus here at Lake St Clair, and hikers who have just completed the 40-mile trail are often found on the ferry that crosses from Narcissus Bay to Cynthia Bay. Travelers just visiting for the day can spend an hour walking the lakeshore trails or tackle a six-hour backcountry journey into the surrounding Tasmanian wilderness. Since track conditions change frequently, the first stop should always be at the informative Lake St Clair Visitor Center, where not only will you get information on current trail conditions and closures, but also find exhibits on early settlers and original Aboriginal inhabitants. At the end of your hike, fire up the BBQ at the Cynthia Bay campground, wash your feet in the refreshing waters and watch as the fading afternoon sun drapes Mt Olympus in shadows.
Lake St Clair is located 2.5 hours from Hobart and is accessible via the Lyell Highway. A day pass to the park can be purchased for either $12 per person or $24 per vehicle, and multi-day holiday passes are $30 per person or $60 per vehicle. The weather in the Tasmanian interior can often be wet and unpredictable, and visitors should be prepared for any weather—including snow—even during the middle of summer. Camping is available at Cynthia Bay, which has the greatest number of visitor facilities available along the lake.