Cataract Gorge

An Unexpected Urban Secret in Launceston

WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?

Cataract Gorge
Image thanks to: Wai Nang Poon

Tourists ride the chairlift over the first basin at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania. It is the longest single-span chairlift in the world at 308m.

The Alexandra suspension footbridge over the South Esk River at Cataract Gorge.

Rotunda in the botanic gardens - Cataract Gorge Reserve

Cataract Gorge
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

Peacock at Cataract Gorge Reserve - Launceston's own piece of wilderness.

Cataract Gorge

A unique and unexpected urban secret.

Cataract Gorge, Tasmania, AustraliaIf you’re visiting the city of Launceston in the north of Tasmania, the Cataract Gorge Reserve (known locally as the Gorge) is a unique and unexpected urban secret. Although you will feel a million miles from town, the natural formation of the Gorge is just 2 minutes from the CBD – a rare phenomenon in any city. This premier tourist attraction is located in the Trevallyn Reserve where the South Esk River, the longest river in Tasmania, enters the Tamar.

Entrance is free so pack your swimmers and a picnic and take a 15 minute stroll from the city center along the banks of the Tamar River to the Gorge where an 1890’s built pathway leads along the cliff face with panoramic views over the South Esk River.

Cataract Gorge, Tasmania, AustraliaThe shaded northern side, referred to as the ‘Cliff Grounds’, is a Victorian era garden where peacocks roam proudly among ferns and exotic plants, which is contrasted with the southern side’s cafe and public swimming pool surrounded by native bush land where locals enjoy a swim (November to March) and a sunbake on the grassy banks, known to locals as Launceston’s Beach. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett & Pete Harmsen.

Activities and Things to Do and See

Take the Kings Bridge (first floated into position in 1867) over the Gorge, or ride the world’s longest single span chairlift up over the gorge to spot peacocks and wallabies at dusk. The chairlift, built in 1972, has a total span of 457 m (1,499 ft).

You may choose to take a walking or cycling track and enjoy the lookouts.

Cataract Gorge , Tasmania, AustraliaTwo walking tracks straddle the gorgeous gorge (Cataract Walk is level; the Zig Zag Track is steep), leading from Kings Bridge up to First Basin. You can also drive to the First Basin car park.
Upstream from the first basin you will find the Alexandra Suspension bridge where a 90 minute return walking track leads to the second basin and up toward Duck Reach where the earliest (1895) municipal hydroelectric power station in Australia stands.

Itching adventurers, you may choose to explore the gorge on a boat cruise through the accessible section of the river, by rock climbing, or perhaps by cable hang gliding allowing you to soar for 200 metres from a cliff top.

With rolling lawns and modern facilities, as well as a myriad of wildlife viewing, this may be Australia’s most inviting urban reserve. Image credit – Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett.

What to eat and drink

Eating options on site include two cafes and a BBQ area. With Launceston just a stone’s throw away, there is no lack of dining options in the CBD.

History

The earliest known European visitor to the site was William Collins, who discovered its entrance in 1804.

Myths about the depth of the gorge have circulated throughout its existence. Whist some claim that the Gorge is an endless pit, others believe it is in fact a volcanic plug or that a submarine, which was sent down to find the bottom in the 1960’s, ran out cable before discovering the truth. In actual fact, measurements conducted in 2011 found that the basins depth is approximately 36 metres, established through erosion at the intersection of two faults where dolerite rock shattered.

Cataract Gorge Tasmania, AustraliaVisit the historic Duck Reach Power Station, built in 1940. The building is now an interpretive museum, where you can learn more and gaze at historic photographs and paintings of the Gorge from many years ago. 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. It was washed away in the floods of 1929, rebuilt, and then decommissioned when the Trevallyn Dam was finished in 1955. Before the Trevallyn Dam was built upstream in the 1950s, flood waters could rise up as high as 12 metres. Image credit – Wai Nang Poon

Local Tips

Weather is unpredictable. At times tranquil, there can also be torrents of heavy rain at any point during the year.

Accommodation

Although there is a hotel located right at the entrance of the Gorge, there are also an incredible amount of options close by due to its proximity to Launceston.

Cataract Gorge

what to do

Cataract Gorge Introductory Rock Climbing and Abseiling

Launceston - Cataract Gorge

Located in the heart of Launceston, the Cataract Gorge is a natural gem that has been the training ground for local climbers for years.  On this tour we start with an introductory Abseil off a spectacular cliff overlooking the
water.  Once we have mastered this skill we move on to some Top Rope climbing at the nearby Trackside Buttress.  We then finish with a combination of both skills with an abseil to the Base of Feltham Buttress prior to climbing back out.

Participants can be sure to come away with a great sense of satisfaction after stepping out of your comfort zone in a controlled environment.

Full Day option also available which includes some longer climbs and abseils.

 

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AU$175

Introductory Rock Climbing

AU$175

Introductory Rock Climbing

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Dove Canyon

Dove Canyon

Wilderness + adrenalin + adventure = the Dove Canyon. If you are after an unforgettable experience in Tasmania, you have come to the right place. The Dove Canyon showcases wild Tasmania at its best. This trip involves a thrilling combination of jumps, slides and abseils buried in a 50 metre deep quartzite canyon. Definitely one to write home about.

This option is for the adventurous and intrepid. You do not need any previous canyoning or abseiling experience, but we recommend customers are physically fit, MUST be able to swim and have a great sense of adventure. The minimum age for this tour is 15.

We also provide a tasty lunch on this tour.

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AU$195

1 Day Adventure

AU$195

1 Day Adventure

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Low Head Penguin Tour

Launceston to Low Head Coastal Reserve

The penguins found in Tasmania are the smallest of the penguin species, the noisiest, and also the only penguins with blue and white feathers (all others are black and white). Because of this they have several names, the Little Penguin, the Blue Penguin, but the most common name they are called is the Fairy Penguin.

Low Head Penguin Tours offer a unique nature experience to get up close and personal with our penguins as they return from the pristine waters of Bass Straight to nest in their burrows within the Low Head Coastal Reserve. This Reserve has the largest penguin rookery in Tasmania, and we have penguins returning every night throughout the year. Watch them swim to the surface, stand up and preen themselves before waddling up the beach. The penguin viewing is fully guided and takes approximately 1 hour, and including transfers to/from Launceston you need to allow 3.5 hours. You are welcome to bring a camera to capture your experience but NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY. As it gets cool at night please wear warm clothes and wear sturdy shoes (sports shoes OK).

(departs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday an hour before dusk).

Minimum two people required for this tour to depart.

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AU$80

3 - 5 hour evening tour

AU$80

3 - 5 hour evening tour

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Let's do Lunch

Launceston - Josef Chromy Winery

Let’s do lunch

Arrive in the beautiful grounds of Josef Chromy Wines and take a stroll through the gardens established in the 1888. Enjoy a complementary tasting at our Cellar Door and then retire to the Restaurant for a two course lunch of fine Tasmanian produce matched with wines.

Min/Max Pax: Priced on minimum number of 1 and maximum 120 guests.

Available 7 days by appointment.

Please allow for a minimum of 1.5 hours.

Booking conditions: Bookings essential. No cancellation fees charged outside 24 hours.

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AU$105

1.5 Hour Lunch

AU$105

1.5 Hour Lunch

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THE ART OF SPARKLING

Launceston - Josef Chromy Winery

“Tasmania confidently holds its place as Australia’s sparkling capital” and “arguably the greatest region for sparkling wine anywhere in the world out­side of Champagne itself”. Tyson Stelzer International Wine Communicator Of The Year 2015.

The art of making sparkling is explained (and tasted along the way) from base wine to corking and wiring. The tour commences at the Cellar Door and takes in the history of the vineyard and the Tasmanian Wine Industry.

Guests will be taken through the sparkling wine making and disgorging process, then work with the winemaking team in the laboratory to choose and add the liquour, the final step in sparkling wine making. Each participant will produce a bottle of sparkling to their own taste to enjoy on the day and may order sparkling wine at their own dosage rate to be sent following their visit. Guests conclude with a 2 course lunch matched with wine and a complementary tasting.

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AU$199

2 - 3 Hour Tour

AU$199

2 - 3 Hour Tour

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2 Day - Cradle Mountain & Lake St Clair camp fire tour

Departs Launceston 7.00 am and returns to Launceston approx 4:30pm the following day. Departs Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This is not just another bus tour – We are different because our tours are designed to offer lots of great opportunities to choose your own adventure along the way. These are small group guided 2 Day active camping and walking tours. We encourage participation in duties around the camp.

We take time to walk in the areas we visit, not just take a picture and keep driving. The guide will be with you on longer walks to show you the wonders we find along the way. We camp in comfortable, private canvas tents in great bush locations. We see much more wildlife when you camp away from the towns. Small personal groups, family friendly and private tours are also available.

This is an ideal tour to experience Tasmania’s iconic Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair, the start and finish points of the overland track. After a day’s activities relax around the fire in a in a private bush camp setting. Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner meals may be included depending on the tour you choose. There are also many optional Cradle Mountain activities on offer at additional cost that may include such things as Canoeing on Dove Lake, Canyoning in Dove Canyon or other rivers in the area, Wildlife tour / Devil park tour or Scenic cruise on Lake St Clair.

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AU$300

AU$300

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5 Day West Coast Safari Tour - Hobart to Launceston

Hobart to Launceston

Hobart to Launceston. Want to discover the remote and wild Tasmanian West Coast? Then this is the tour for you. Over 5 Days we explore the iconic must sees as well as some great local secrets. Camping out and watching the wildlife

AU$1000

5 Day Safari

AU$1000

5 Day Safari

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5 Day East Coast Safari Tour - Launceston to Hobart

Launceston to Hobart

Over 5 days from Launceston to Hobart. Experiencing the amazing variety of Tassie’s mild side, exploring Tasmania's scenic, sunny east coast. Visit the must see places as well some local secrets along the way. Camp in great locations

AU$1150

Camping and Walking Tour

AU$1150

Camping and Walking Tour

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Where to Stay

CBD Apartments Launceston

Launceston - North

This apartment building is located in Launceston (Launceston CBD), close to Design Centre of Tasmania, Launceston Aquatic Centre, and City Park Radio Museum. Also nearby are Princess Theatre and City Park.
Laundry facilities, a garden, and a picnic area are available at this apartment building. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided.
Each apartment features a washing machine and a kitchen with a refrigerator, a stovetop, and a microwave. Guests can appreciate conveniences like a sofa bed and a living room, and other amenities include free WiFi and a dining area. Limited housekeeping is available.

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West Launceston 3BR Townhouse

West Launceston - North

Situated in West Launceston, this vacation home is close to Cataract Gorge, Penny Royal Adventures, and Launceston College. Also nearby are Queen Victoria Museum and Royal Park.
This smoke-free vacation home features barbecue grills.
The vacation home provides a kitchen with a refrigerator, an oven, a stovetop, and a microwave. For a bit of entertainment, a TV comes with a DVD player, and guests can also appreciate conveniences like a washing machine and a living room.

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The Sebel Launceston

Launceston - North

Located in Launceston CBD, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Boags Brewery and Queen Victoria Museum. Aurora Stadium and Cataract Gorge are also within 3 km.
This smoke-free hotel features a restaurant, a fitness center, and a bar/lounge. WiFi in public areas is free. Other amenities include a coffee shop/café, 24-hour room service, and a business center.
All 51 rooms feature kitchenettes with refrigerators and microwaves, plus free WiFi, free wired Internet, and TVs with digital channels. Guests will also find balconies, living rooms, and dining areas.

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Quest Launceston Serviced Apartments

Launceston - North

Located in Launceston CBD, this aparthotel is steps from The Town Clock, Princess Theatre, and 1842 Gallery. Brisbane Street Mall and Quadrant Mall are also within 5 minutes.
Along with self parking, this smoke-free aparthotel has a meeting room and concierge services. WiFi in public areas is free. Additionally, dry cleaning, laundry facilities, and limo/town car service are onsite.
Each apartment features a kitchen with a refrigerator and a microwave, plus free WiFi and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Guests can appreciate conveniences like a sitting area and a coffee/tea maker, and other amenities include a DVD player and a minibar. Limited housekeeping is available.

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The River House Launceston Tamar Valley

Dilston - North

Situated on a river, this luxury guesthouse is within 15 km of Aurora Stadium, Launceston Tramway Museum, and 1842 Gallery. Queen Victoria Art Gallery and Boags Brewery are also within 15 km.
Along with a seasonal outdoor pool, this smoke-free guesthouse has laundry facilities and a computer station. Free full breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include a garden and barbecue grills.
All 3 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and microwaves, plus free WiFi and TVs with DVD players. Guests will also find coffee makers, hair dryers, and showers.

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Kurrajong House Launceston

East Launceston - North

Situated in the historical district, this bed & breakfast is within a 10-minute walk of Launceston Aquatic Centre and City Park. Queen Victoria Museum and Aurora Stadium are also within 2 km.
Along with express check-in, this bed & breakfast has express check-out and free newspapers. Free English breakfast, free WiFi in public areas, and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include tour/ticket assistance and a garden.
All 6 rooms provide conveniences like refrigerators and coffee makers, plus free WiFi and LCD TVs. Free newspapers, safes, and showers are among the other amenities that guests will find.

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Mercure Launceston

Launceston - North

Located in Launceston CBD, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Launceston Aquatic Centre and National Automobile Museum. Bridestowe Lavender Estate is 51.5 km away.
This hotel features a restaurant, a bar/lounge, and a coffee shop/café. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Other amenities include a conference center, a business center, and conference space.
All 43 rooms feature comforts like premium bedding and down comforters, while conveniences include refrigerators and coffee makers. Free WiFi and minibars are standard, as are LED TVs with cable channels.

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