Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania

Climbing the distinctively rocky and prominent peak of Barn Bluff (1559m) in Cradle Mountain National Park makes for a classic Tasmanian alpine day walk.

Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

The rocky summit of Barn Bluff (1559m) pops up out of an alpine plateau and cuts a striking figure (… although confusingly it’s not the featured image of this post). I first saw it from the summit of Cradle Mountain on a trip to Tasmania in 2008, and although it looks quite remote, it can in fact be climbed on a longish day walk: one of Tasmania’s best. On the day we did it the weather was all over the place, with snow squalls and mist adding to the sense of adventure. Luckily the weather cleared enough to reveal most of the fabulous views the area is famous for.

We walked from Ronny’s Creek at the start of the famous multiday Overland Track, at the southern end of Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Although this adds distance to the walk compared to starting at Dove Lake, there’s attractive vegetation and views of Crater Lake from the shore that make it worthwhile. The final summit cliffs of Barn Bluff are impressive, and climbing through them is easier than it might at first look. Track notes at the end.

Barn Bluff ascent: The Scenery

Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Pandani near the start of the walk at Ronny Creek.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Near the start of the walk at Ronny Creek.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Attractive vegetation early on in the walk.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
A stand of beech trees early on in the walk.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
By the shore of Crater Lake.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Lake Lilla, and part of Dove Lake (right).
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Crater Lake
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Crater Lake
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Misty forest as we past by Cradle Mountain. No views on the outward leg, but we had clearer weather on the way back,
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Barn Bluff viewed in the first clear weather of the walk.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Barn Bluff
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Approaching the summit cliffs of Barn Bluff.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The summit cliffs of Barn Bluff looming overhead.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking back at through the first of three brief snow storms from the base of Barn Bluff’s summit cliffs.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
If you see this view you’ve gone the wrong way. Made for a nice photo though. We back tracked just a few metres to ascend up on the right.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Sophia approaches the summit of Barn Bluff (1559m).
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Lake Will from the summit of Barn Bluff, as the weather tried its best to clear.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking back at a dark Cradle Mountain from the summit of Barn Bluff.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking over various tarns with the Pelion Range in the distance.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Peaks in the distant Pelion Range.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking north from Barn Bluff. Cradle Mountain on the right.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking back at a dark and ominous Cradle Mountain.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain from near Barn Bluff.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Barn Bluff in mist. It was a bit of a cloud catcher.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The back of Cradle Mountain.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain from the south west.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Walking back towards Cradle Mountain.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
One of the money shots of the walk: misty cliffs on Cradle Mountain.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The western face of Cradle Mountain in mist. This shot proved to be popular on Instagram.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
We missed this view on the way out. Or should I say mist this view. Dad joke there.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Looking back towards Barn Bluff. We didn’t see any of this on the way out.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain from Marions Lookout.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
I descended via Wombat Pool to Dove Lake to make sure I caught the last bus back to the car park. Sophia actually descended from Marions Lookout directly via Dove Lake, which was a little faster still. (We went different ways by accident). Our original intention was to return to Ronny Creek via the Horse Track.
Barn Bluff ascent, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Wombat Pool (or Wombat Poo as the signs often said).


Track Notes

The track is obvious the whole way except for the final ascent to the summit of Barn Bluff, but there are a few cairns to mark the route up. You basically follow the Overland Track from Ronny Creek Car Park until a right turn takes you out to Barn Bluff. Our track notes suggested returning via the Horse Track, which passes on the other side of Crater Lake to the Overland Track. But we were running out of time to catch the last bus, and so descended to the Dove Lake car park, which can be done via Dove Lake from Marions Lookout, or else via Wombat Pools and Lake Lilla.

You can pick up a map at the visitor centre, and will need to take a shuttle bus from there out to either Ronny Creek or Dove Lake. The buses are roughly every 10 minutes, and check when the last bus leaves at night so you don’t miss it. If you do miss it then its likely there will be one more bus some time later (we were told), but I wouldn’t bank on this.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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