Cataract Gorge, in the Trevallyn Nature Recreation area, is a 15-minute walk from the centre of Launceston. This beautiful piece of Tasmanian wilderness has been a favourite destination for locals and tourists over many decades. The area offers so much diversity, it’s easy to spend a whole day enjoying the many activities or simply soaking up the pristine bushland.
Cataract Gorge has several walking and hiking trails, magnificent gardens, spectacular views, and even a swimming pool! The suspension bridge, inclinator (similar to a cable car) and the world's longest single-span chairlift make the area accessible to all. To sustain visitors is a café and superb restaurant. But it’s the 65-million-year-old gorge that’s the main drawcard.
Cataract Gorge has been carved out of solid rock by the South Esk River as it flows through to the Tamar River Valley. What’s unusual about this stunning and dramatic patch of wilderness, is its location – just a short walk from the centre of Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city.
The King’s Bridge – Cataract Walk takes around two to three hours, at a relaxed pace as there’s plenty to see along the way. The pathway starts at the entrance to the gorge and runs beside the river deep into the Gorge past the First Basin and other fascinating sights.
Built in 1972, with a central span of 457 metres, the chairlift claims to be the longest single-span chairlift in the world and crosses the Gorge at the First Basin. The walkway has been around even longer having been one of Launceston’s main attractions since the 1890s when it was built by volunteers.
Cataract Gorge is a significant site for the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, The Palawa. Launceston locals simply call this unique natural formation ‘The Gorge’ and all who visit are touched by its diversity and beauty.
A short walk from the city centre along the banks of the Tamar River and you arrive at the Gorge where you can follow a pathway along the cliff face, looking down to the South Esk River.
In contrast to the First Basin on the southern side where there’s an open area featuring a swimming pool built in 1936 and open bushland, the Cliff Grounds on the northern side boast a Victorian Garden with ferns, exotic plants, and artworks.
The Cataract Gorge area has more than 70 native flora species and 70 species of birds, many endemic to Tasmania. Wildlife is abundant in the area and it’s not unusual to spot peacocks, wallabies and pademelons along the walking trails.
The five-kilometre loop trail takes an average of two to three hours to complete at a steady pace. There are many walks to enjoy at Cataract Gorge including Eagles Eyrie Lookout walk (one kilometre) Cataract Gorge Walk (just over two kilometres) and Sentinel Lookout 3.4 kilometres.)
It takes a leisurely ten minutes to ride across Cataract Gorge and First Basin. A chair comes every few minutes and the ride reaches a top speed of one metre per second, giving guests plenty of time to take in the panoramic views.
You can swim in the water of the gorge all year round, although be prepared for the cold. The First Basin has a gated public swimming pool that is open in the summer months.
Our team is always happy to help if you have any questions about us or our tours. Fill out our form and we will get back to you soon.