A Home in the Forest


Near the foothills of Cradle Mountain is a small building of …

(with apologies for the touristy hyperbole)

Waldheim, Overland Walking Track, Tasmania
Waldheim, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

 … a building of unparalleled charm and loveliness.

There are various brief histories of Waldheim available around the websites, but they begin with and focus on Gustav Weindorfer. I thought it was time for another very tiny history — a summary, really — but with the perspective altered slightly.

(I’ve also moved an apostrophe. I think it should be called “Weindorfers’ Chalet”, because I think it belonged to two people.)

Kate Weindorfer

Kate Cowle was born at Kindred near Devonport, Tasmania, in 1863. During her early life in Melbourne, she became a member of the Victorian Field Naturalists’ Club, where she presented a number of papers. Here she met Austrian, Gustav Weindorfer. They married in 1906 in Tasmania.

Like her husband, Kate was an avid naturalist. They spent their honeymoon camping near Mount Roland, collecting botanical specimens.

In 1910, on an expedition with Gustav and two friends, Kate became the first white woman to climb Cradle Mountain.

Cradle Mountain Dove Lake Doug Beckers Flickr

It was on this occasion that Gustav made his famous proclamation:

“This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent, and people must know about it and enjoy it.”

Kate and Gustav determined to build a chalet and a road to make it possible for people to visit the beautiful area. They carefully selected and purchased some land, and Gustav built Waldheim, or “home in the forest”. He built it out of slabs and palings of King Billy pine, carrying supplies on his back.

At Christmas 1912, the chalet was opened to visitors, who came in horse-drawn carriages, making the last few kilometres on foot with pack horses.

For several years the Weindorfers had many intrepid visitors. Their hospitality included sing-songs, a cast-iron bath, spectacularly beautiful scenery and wombat stew.

Kate died from illness in 1916. Gustav wrote in his diary, “I have lost my best friend.’

Gustav continued to live at Waldheim after Kate’s death. He died of a heart attack in the Cradle Mountain area in 1932. He has a memorial near the chalet.


By 1976, Waldheim had fallen into disrepair and it was demolished by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. After a public outcry a replica was built by a local builder, Ted Forster, who had been taught to hand-split shingles by Gustav.


Thanks to these people for the images

“Weindorfers’ Chalet, Waldheim” by H.-U. Küenle – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47489137

“Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania 3” by Doug Beckers on Flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbeckers/8679395229

“…for the people for all time” by brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (“…for the people for all time.”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons






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