Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, is in the central highlands of Tasmania.
Its designation as a national park is mostly due to the efforts of Gustav Weindorfer, an Austrian botanist who immigrated to Australia in 1899. He married a Tasmanian woman Kate Cowle, who was also a botanist, in 1902 and they honeymooned at Mt Roland. Here they spent their days exploring and gathering botanical specimens. Gustav fell in love with the area and in 1910 he and Kate purchased a block of land with the dream of building a chalet so that tourists could visit. He was quoted as saying, “This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.” Their chalet Waldheim, meaning “home in the forest”, was built in 1912 and the first visitors came in 1913. Sadly Kate died in 1916 but Gustav continued to live at Waldheim, welcoming guests every summer. In 1921 he toured Tasmania promoting Waldheim as a destination for those wanting to explore the mountains and campaigning to have the area deemed a national park so that the unique landscape, flora and fauna would be forever protected. His dream was realised on 16 May 1922 when a 1,612 km² tract of land was declared a national park.
After Gustav’s death in 1932 Waldheim fell into such disrepair that it was eventually demolished by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The public outcry was so great that a replica was built. This new Waldheim, made from slabs of King Billy Pine like the original, stands on the same site as a memorial to the man whose vision and dedication ensured that today’s visitors can marvel at the wonders of this rugged wilderness, just as he did in the early 1900s. Was Gustav Weindorfer the original “greenie”?