Discover these hidden wonders of Waldheim Cottage on Cradle Mountain Tasmania Tour Tasmanian Wilderness Explorer tour
“This (Cradle Mountain area) must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent and people must know about it and enjoy it.” – Gustav Weindorfer, 1910
Nestled among the myrtles and King Billy pines at Cradle Valley, Waldheim Chalet provides an insight into the early history of the Cradle Mountain area and the people who played a pivotal role in the establishment of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Gustav and Kate Weindorfer.
The Weindorfers built the rustic home and guest chalet in 1912, naming it Waldheim, meaning ‘forest home’.
Waldheim Chalet continued to be used for accommodation until 1974. In 1976, Waldheim was demolished following a fire and a replica was built using traditional bush carpentry techniques. Made from shingles split from King Billy pine, it is an accurate reconstruction of the chalet as it had appeared at the time of Gustav’s death in 1932. – info from Parks Tasmania
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WalDheim Cottage – Cradle Mountain Tasmania
Gustav Weindorfer story
Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian, emigrated to Australia in 1899 and married Kate Cowle of Tasmania in 1902. They bought part of Kate’s brother’s farm (Lauriston) near Mt. Roland and spent their honeymoon camping at the top of Mt. Roland. Both dedicated botanists, for them it seemed the ideal way to spend time together, sheltering in a canvass tent at night and cooking their meals over a camp fire.
In 1909, Gustav and a friend – Charlie Sutton, set out to explore Cradle Mountain. Both men were awed and amazed by the rugged splendour of the highlands and upon returning to Lauriston Gustav was intent on buying land in Cradle Valley.
In March 1902 Gustav commenced building Waldheim (Forest Home). This single roofed hut was gradually extended to provide accommodation for friends and acquaintances with whom he wanted to share his love of this wildly beautiful land. The accommodation and facilities were primitive but when one considers everything, including a large cast iron bath, was carried in by Weindorfer over many miles of trackless bushland, it is extraordinary that the home was ever completed.
In the summer of 1913, Gustav opened Waldheim for business, playing host to visitors prepared to forego contemporary conveniences in order to experience the magnificent highland scenery.
Gustav continued to live at Waldheim even after the death of his beloved Kate in 1916 and though he was to accommodate many people at the chalet he earned the reputation for being a hermit.
On 16 May 1922, the land extending from Cradle Mountain south to Lake St. Clair (some 161,000 hectares) was proclaimed a National Park. The park came into being largely as a result of the considerable efforts made by Gustav, Kate and friends – they had campaigned over many years to have the government recognise the unique nature of the region and to preserve it for all to enjoy.
Gustav died on 4th May 1932 aged 58. He was buried in front of his treasured forest home and in 1938 a monument to Gustav was mounted on the site. Years later Waldheim had fallen into disrepair and the buildings were demolished by the National Parks & Wildlife Service. However, the public outcry over the loss of Waldheim was such that a replica – built from slabs and pailings cut from King Billy Pine – was built on the site.
Today Waldheim is almost as the Weindorfers’ left it, it’s rough hewn walls and tiny rooms with the open verandah where they and their friends looked across the valley to the jutting peaks of Cradle Mountain, now holds records of the early days of Cradle Mountain and the Weindorfer’s efforts to create a National Park to protect it for all time. Every New Year’s Day a memorial service is held at Waldheim to pay tribute to their vision.
Discover these hidden wonders of Walheim Cottage on Cradle Mountain Tasmania Tour Tasmanian Wilderness Explorer tour