It started with a kiss … the story behind Cradle Country
Mt Roland, the stunning backdrop to Sheffield, is where Kate and Gustav Weindorfer first glimpsed Cradle Mountain in 1906, as they honeymooned under the stars. Visible from much of northern Tasmania, Mt Roland is such a spectacular part of the landscape it is often mistaken for Cradle Mountain.
Called ta neem er ra (big grass plain) by the Six Rivers Aboriginal community, the Aboriginal people hunted on Mt Roland and used it as a lookout and high point for distance communication. Ceremonial women’s areas are reputedly at its foot, birthing areas by the creeks, rivers and caves and rock shelters and cultural/ceremonial areas on the top and faces of the mountain.
Kate became the first non-Aboriginal woman to ascend Cradle Mountain when she and Gustav climbed it together in 1910 and Gustav declared there and then he would “build a chalet and get a road so that people would come from everywhere to see this magnificent place”.
In the following days they explored the surrounding country and chose a site on a rocky rise on the edge of a pine forest for the chalet. The following year they each purchased 200 acres of land on Cradle Mountain with the dream of also establishing a park for all people for all time.
In 1912 Weindorfer began to build Waldheim Chalet himself using King Billy pine from the site and, as a horse and cart could approach no closer than 14 km, Weindorfer carried baths and stoves on his back.
Kate died in 1916 after a long battle with illness and Gustav recorded in his characteristically brief diary entries, “I have lost my best friend”.
Although Kate did not live to see the realisation of their dream, Gustav did. On 16 May 1922, an area of 158,000 acres (63,943 ha) from Cradle Mountain down to Lake St Clair was proclaimed a Scenic Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary.
Today, many thousands of people visit Cradle Mountain every year. Kate and Gustav would be delighted to know so many people enjoy the beauty which so enthralled them.
Thanks to Jackie Hardy of Kentish Council, who contributed this story as a guest author on Visit Cradle Coast.