Cataract Gorge is a pocket of wilderness and a heritage oasis in Launceston city. The reserve is a local favourite for relaxing and recreation, with its stunning natural scenery and excellent facilities. Take in the views of pristine mountain waters tumbling into the First Basin against the gorge’s backdrop of dolerite crags and she-oak trees while you explore the vast grounds or swim in the pool. See a heritage suspension bridge and learn about the 19th-century hydroelectric power station.
There are several walking routes into Cataract Gorge. Wind through bushland trails or stroll alongside the South Esk River, listening as the sounds of the city are replaced by the sound of flowing water and rustling leaves. Stop at the various viewpoints that look out into the vast sweep of waterfront wilderness.
The large clearing at the heart of the gorge is known as the First Basin. Snap photos of the large grassy bank by the water, framed by dolerite cliffs and craggy forested hilltops. This area has children’s playground equipment and a large swimming pool, which provides a safe swimming alternative for families. If you want to take the plunge into the brisk waters of the basin, be sure to take care as the waters here are not patrolled by lifeguards and are extremely deep.
The world’s longest single-span chairlift soars across the basin, presenting fantastic views. Nearby both chairlift stations, you’ll find kiosks selling snacks, as well as restaurants nestled in the greenery. Explore the pretty Victorian gardens on the north banks. Spot wallabies bounding through the bush or the showy plumage of the gorge’s resident peacocks.
Stroll around the bushland trails to see the Alexandra Suspension Bridge and the heritage rotunda. Follow the cliff’s-edge trail to reach the Duck Reach Power Station, which has an interpretive display that explains the hydroelectric scheme that was put in place in the late 1800s with the building of the Trevallyn Dam.
Cataract Gorge is free to enter at any time of the day. A metered parking lot is located on the southern side. Alternatively, take the pleasant 15-minute walk from central Launceston to reach the gorge.