The history of tourism in the Cradle Mountain valley is a happy-sad story.
Gustav Weindorfer was an Austrian immigrant who married Kate Cowle, a Tasmanian woman 10 years his senior.
Gustav and Kate built a timber chalet called Waldheim (meaning “forest home”) in 1912, hoping to open the stunning Cradle area to tourists.
There was no road in at the time.
He and Kate were amateur botanists. They had a farm at Kindred, near Mt Rowland, but loved the Cradle area.
Not long after they created their Cradle Mountain dream, in 1916, Gustav lost four family members in separate deaths, including Kate.
He had sold the Kindred farm at this stage, and subsequently lived alone at Waldheim for 16 more years.
The dream had become something else, as he found it very lonely in winter.
He ate wombat stews and wondered if the “tiger cats” (quolls) would eat him, as they had become very bold.
His solo life wasn’t all bad though, as he continued to lobby for the Cradle area, which he thought was world class.
In 1932 he was found dead next to his motorbike, perhaps a result of pushing it after starting troubles. He had previously written about heart trouble.
Kate had died from kidney disease, although she apparently had a lump in her breast as well. Most online accounts say she just had a long illness.
This is a very abbreviated story about the Weindorfers. I suggest looking up a lengthy biography of this incredible couple, who opened up one of Tasmania’s great natural attractions.
They weren’t the first white people to visit the area, as it was discovered more than 80 years earlier. But they were the first to recognise its natural value.