A freelance writer with an interest in just about everything.
Published July 14th 2013
Launceston's own piece of wilderness
Go anywhere in Tasmania and chances are you'll soon find yourself a piece of stunning natural wilderness. Cataract Gorge Reserve, just a 15-minute walk from Launceston's city centre, is Launceston's own piece of pristine natural beauty.
Described as the heartbeat of Launceston, the gorge boasts an intriguing history, great bushwalking and of course some impressive scenery. The best place to start your Cataract Gorge experience is at the First Basin Reserve on the southern side of this scenic waterway.
From there you can set off along a number of bushwalking trails or simply get your camera out and start snapping shots of the gorge. A chairlift, built in 1972, takes you across 457 metres over the huge natural basin below. It's the best way to get some great shots of the gorge, with a one-way ride costing $12 for adults and $8 for children.
There's also a cafe open for breakfast, lunch and morning and afternoon tea. There's a swimming pool that's very popular in the warmer months, while you should also keep an eye out for peacocks parading the grounds.
Across the basin on the shady northern side, named the Cliff Grounds, you can wander through a Victorian garden featuring ferns and exotic plants. A lookout offers great views of the basin and the gorge itself, while no visit is complete without a bouncy walk across the famous suspension bridge.
The reserve also has a range of bushwalking trails to explore. For a short stroll you can discover the area along the First Basin Loop, while a more challenging route takes you along the Duck Reach Trail.
This route, which is a little steep in parts, follows the path of the South Esk River to the historic Duck Reach Power Station. Commissioned back in 1893, the power station was at one stage only accessible by flying fox.
Plus, there's a whole lot more you can do in Cataract Gorge. You can try climbing, abseiling, or even take a guided walk.
For more information about Cataract Gorge Reserve, visit the Launceston Tourist Information website or the Cataract Gorge website.