Weindorfer's Retreat

Published: Oct 12, 2016 5:56 AM
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Gustav Weindorfer“This must be a national park for the people for all time. It is magnificent and people must know about it and enjoy it.”
Gustav Weindorfer, 1910

Gustav Weindorfer, emigrated to Australia from Austria in 1899 and in 1902 married Kate Cowle of Tasmania. Both dedicated botanists, it seemed the ideal way to spend time together, sheltered in a canvass tent and cooking meals over a fire.

In 1909, Gustav and Charlie Sutton, set out to explore Cradle Mountain. Both men were amazed by the splendour of the highlands. Upon returning, Gustav was intent on buying land in Cradle Valley.

In March 1902 Gustav started building Waldheim (Austrian for Forest Home). The single hut was extended to provide accommodation for friends and acquaintances, whom he wanted to share his love of this beautiful land. The facilities were primitive but still, included a large cast iron bath.

In the summer of 1913, Waldheim was opened for business, hosting visitors prepared to forego luxuries and contemporary conveniences to experience the magnificent highland scenery.

After the death of his beloved wife Kate in 1916, Gustav continued to live at Waldheim, and though he was to play host and accommodate many people at the chalet he earned the reputation for being a hermit.

On 16th May 1922, the land extending from Cradle Mountain south to Lake St. Clair (some 161,000 hectares) was proclaimed as a National Park, due to the considerable efforts by Gustav, Kate and friends

Gustav died on 4th May 1932 aged 58. He was buried in front of his forest home. In 1938 a monument to Gustav was mounted on the site. Years later Waldheim had fallen into disrepair and the buildings were demolished by the National Parks & Wildlife Service. However, the public outcry over the loss of Waldheim was such that a replica – built from slabs and pailings cut from King Billy Pine – was built on the site.