Launceston Cataract Gorge, Tasmania, Australia


Low Head, Australia

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203 views as at the 18th of December 2013

The city of Launceston and Post Office clock tower can be seen on the other side of the gorge. Please view large!

Cataract Gorge Reserve, or ""The Gorge"" as the locals call it, is a unique natural formation within a two-minute drive of central Launceston – a rare natural phenomenon in any city.

In 15 minutes you can walk from the city centre along the banks of the Tamar River into “The Gorge”.

From here you follow a pathway along the cliff face, originally built in the 1890s, looking down onto the South Esk River. The Kings Bridge over “The Gorge” was floated into place in 1867.

The First Basin, on the southern side, features a swimming pool and an open area surrounded by bushland.

In contrast, the shady northern side, named the Cliff Grounds, is a Victorian garden where wilderness is created with ferns and exotic plants – nature is enhanced by art. There’s a Restaurant and kiosk, rolling lawns and a rotunda, a pub with a view, a footbridge and chairlift across the river, peacocks in the trees, wallabies at dusk. This may be the nation’s most alluring urban reserve.

Further upstream is the historic Duck Reach Power Station, now an Interpretation Centre. The Launceston City Council originally commissioned the Power Station in 1893, making it the largest hydro-electric scheme of its day. By 1895 it was lighting the city.

The walk starts in King’s Park, the water frontage between the Tamar River and the Penny Royal Watermill complex on Bridge Road. With the water on your right, walk along the foreshore path, under the West Tamar Highway Road Bridge, and climb up to Bridge Road. Turn right and walk across the steel structure bridge. For nearly 100 years this was the only bridge allowing access to the West Bank of the Tamar River from Launceston.

Immediately over the bridge, the path runs left and along the Gorge. The water of the South Eak River will be on your left. Follow the path as it winds its way into the Gorge. Watch for the path turnoff to the right that takes you uphill to a lookout for scenic views up the Gorge if so inclined.
Continue along the path to the First Basin. The Interpretation Centre built into the decommissioned Duck Reach Power Station is well worth a visit, and the Restaurants, cafes and facilities of the Basin are worth looking around.

There are a number of well marked paths that will take you further into the Reserve on isolated bush trails, and these make for excellent walking. After walking these trails return to the First Basin.

After spending time in the First Basin, ride the Chairlift if so inclined, or cross the South Esk by way of the Suspension Bridge (circa. 1940) at the western end of the area.

You will see the Car Park up and on your right as you head downstream from the first Basin. Enter the Zig Zag Reserve and walk back to the mouth of the Gorge and Launceston City by way of the Zig Zag Track along the south side of the Gorge. The Zig Zag track will bring you back to King’s Bridge.

Artwork Comments

  • gail woodbury
  • fotosic
  • Maria  Moro
  • gail woodbury
  • fotosic
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