Gustav and Kate Weindorfer

Waldheim, the Weindorfers' chalet at Cradle Mountain, probaly 1920s (AOT, PH30/1/3151)

Gustav (1874–1932) and Kate Julia (1863–1916) Weindorfer, pioneers of conservation, recognised Tasmania's potential for wilderness holidays. Their efforts to bring this concept to fruition as a business venture resulted from Austrian-born Weindorfer's passion for creating 'a national park for the people for all time', and became the catalyst for the formation of the Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park.

Kate, a wealthy spinster, met Gustav in Victoria in 1902. They spent an unorthodox botanical honeymoon on Mount Roland in 1906, and four years later with their friend Ronald Smith climbed to the summit of Cradle Mountain, where Weindorfer made his famous statement. On descending the mountain, they chose the site for Waldheim Chalet. To preserve as much land as possible in Cradle Valley, the Weindorfers and Smiths eventually secured 200 acres each on adjoining boundaries. Waldheim was opened in 1912, and visitors arrived in the valley.

The declaration of the First World War in 1914 restricted visitors, and following Kate's death in 1916, and experiencing anti-German hostility, Gustav moved permanently to the valley. It came into its own as a popular destination for visitors, with Gustav renowned as a genial host. Following his death in 1932 the Cradle Mountain Reserve was merged with the Lake St Clair Reserve, forming the National Park as we know it today.

Further reading: S Schnackenberg, Kate Weindorfer, Launceston, 1995; ADB 12.

Sally Schnackenberg