It's not every morning you head out for an early hike and catch a family of wallabies feasting a few feet away. But then communing with pristine nature comes easily here at Cradle Mountain Lodge, the newly refurbished wilderness retreat in rugged central Tasmania, on the edge of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain Lake St. Clair National Park. Possums, Tasmanian devils, echidnas, yodeling black currawongs, and other Australian natives appear along every trail.
In the eco spirit of the region, Arts & Crafts-style chalets unobtrusively fan out among the eucalyptus trees. Each comfortable and unfussy cabin has a large whirlpool bath for post-hike revival, a small kitchen, and piles of firewood for the rapid warmth of an old-fashioned cast-iron stove. More than 20 walks are mapped, including a refreshing 30-minute stroll from the Lodge to Pencil Pine Falls amid a surreal mossy rain forest, or the dramatic four-mile Dove Lake circuit through 1,000-year-old King Billy pine trees. Fresh-air fans can choose from canoeing, mountain biking, abseiling, horseback riding, or flyfishing in summer, tobogganing and cross-country skiing in winter. Dining at the Highland Restaurant in the Lodge is hearty yet inventive. Spa suites, $170. P.O. Box 153, Sheffield, Tasmania, Australia 7306; 800-225-9849; www.poresorts.com