Cataract Gorge

It’s early morning and most attractions are still closed, but Cataract Gorge is open at any hour. The kids are having a great time racing across the suspension bridge and causing it to rock. You stand in the middle, hanging onto the side, and take in the scent of eucalypt and the magnificent view. The South Esk River winds below, its dark waters cascading over rocks, the jagged cliffs towering on either side. Suddenly the kids call out in excitement – they’ve spotted a wallaby. It’s hard to believe this peaceful, scenic spot is only a short walk from the centre of town.

Price range

FREE ENTRY; CHAIRLIFT MID-RANGE

Contact details

Basin Rd, West Launceston; (03) 6331 5915

 
Chairlift operates daily, including Christmas Day

Don't Miss

■ The chairlift journey from one side of the gorge to the other. You do not sit in enclosed capsules, but in open two-person chairs held in by safety rails. As you travel slowly and sedately over the river, you feel like a gliding bird.

■ The rotunda in Cliff Grounds – while the kids are playing in this large, elaborate ‘cubby house’ you can read the interesting information about the building of Kings Bridge (the alternative to the suspension bridge).
 
■ The Fairy Dell, also in Cliff Grounds, a pretty concave in the hills with a magical atmosphere.

Fabulous Facts

In December 1895, Launceston became the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to have electricity produced by water power. It was generated by a hydro-electric power station further up the South Esk River. You can visit the historic Duck Reach power plant buildings, and if you do, you will be astounded to realise that the great floods of 1929 reached up to this height.

Insider Tips

■ The walk from the city centre is a pleasant 15 minutes along the banks of the Tamar River.

■ On the northern side of the gorge is Cliff Grounds, a Victorian-era garden with ferns, exotic plants and a picturesque historic rotunda.
 
■ First Basin on the southern side of the gorge has a free, unheated swimming pool and a wading area that are great for hot summer days. There is also a playground.
 
■ Wallabies can often be seen at early morning or dusk. Iridescent blue peacocks strut around all day and come begging for food at the restaurants and kiosks.
 
■ There are eating places on both sides of the gorge, as well as picnic areas and barbecues.
 
■ There are tracks to follow on both sides of the gorge. The Zig Zag Track on the southern side is more difficult, and can become muddy and slippery in wet weather. The Gorge Walk on the other side is an easy 1-kilometre sealed path.
 
■ In winter the gorge will sometimes flood and it is an amazing sight to see from the suspension bridge.
 
■ A trail leads to the historic hydro-electric power station, but it is a challenging trek with lots of climbing over rocks and takes about two hours return.
 
■ You can take a Cataract Gorge Cruise.

See Also

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