You have to get up very early indeed to catch Mr Dennis Maxwell before he goes off to work, driving his bus. But that’s exactly what we did, surprising him last Friday morning just after 7 o’clock, while he was leaning over the counter chatting in the Coles Emporium in downtown Wilmot. For once, Dennis found himself “short of words”.

The Kate and Gustav Weindorfer Honours List citation is public recognition of the significant contribution over many years that Dennis has made to the Cradle Valley community by introducing our National Park to thousands of bushwalkers, scouting and school groups, photographers and nature lovers.

Dennis was really “chuffed” to receive his award.

Dennis, Pauline (gracious proprietress of the historic Coles Emporium at Wilmot) and John with Dennis' award
Dennis, Pauline (gracious proprietress of the historic Coles Emporium at Wilmot) and John with Dennis’ award


Dennis Maxwell is a well-known resident-farmer of Wilmot. During the 1950s, he established the ‘Cradle Mountain Coach and Taxi Service’ because he recognised the need and saw a real business opportunity. For over 60 years, he has provided tourists and bushwalkers with comfortable and reliable commercial transport to and from the Cradle Mountain – Lake St.Clair National Park. He is renowned far and wide as a great raconteur, and there are many tales about the early days of tourism in the Cradle Valley area that he can tell.

Together with his friend, Eric Sargent, who founded the first commercial backpacking business at Cradle Valley called ‘Craclair’, Dennis has introduced many visitors to the Overland Track, picking them up at the Devonport and Launceston airports, dropping them off either on the Arm River track or at Ronny Creek, and then going all the way around to pick them up again days later at the Lake St Clair end.

In the mid1960s, Dennis joined up with two airline companies to promote Tasmanian wilderness tourism on the mainland, going around giving talks at schools. In 1967, he joined the Save Lake Pedder National Park campaign, and in 1972, he provided his ‘Maxwell’s Comfort Coach’ to take clients to see Lake Pedder before it was flooded by the Hydro.

Written by John Wilson, Nov 2012