Gustav Weindorfer - Waldheim Chalet

Waldheim Chalet

Weindorfer’s first trip to Cradle Mountain was in January 1909, with his friend and botanist mentor, Dr Sutton. A local guide led them on the last roadless stretch into the valley. Their provisions included six plant presses. Two days were spent exploring the Cradle Mountain environment. This included an attempt on the summit, but time had been used up in plant collecting and thick fog turned them back from the final climb. Over the next year, Gustav enthused about the Cradle area, describing it as a “veritable Eldorado for the botanist” and likening it to his Carinthian homeland.

He returned the following summer with his wife Kate and Mr (later Major) R E Smith. On 4 January 1910, the party were graced with fine weather for their climb of the mountain. It was here that Smith later quoted Weindorfer 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.

While in the valley Kate and Gustav selected a site for them to build a chalet that would allow tourists to stay in the valley. Some hundreds of acres were purchased, and in March 1912, Gustav commenced work on the building he was to call Waldheim, or “home in the forest”. It was built of King Billy pine, harvested from the adjacent forest. By Christmas 1912, stage one was ready for the first visitors, with a living and dining room and two bedrooms.

Despite early tourists having to walk up to 8 miles (13 km) to reach Waldheim, it was a success. Eventually, a rough track allowed a horse and cart to reach the valley entrance: the government was slow in responding to Weindorfer’s repeated requests for a proper road. Weindorfer continued to work on his tourism dream, enlarging the chalet, naming features in the valley and clearing and marking tracks to the best spots.

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