Launceston’s ruggedly beautiful Cataract Gorge is a popular highlight for visitors, combining dramatic natural landscapes and Victorian-era landscaping right on the edge of the city.
The reserve is surrounded by wild natural parklands, and near-vertical cliffs soar alongside the South Esk River as it enters the Tamar River.
Hikers and rock climbers head here to follow picturesque walking trails along the gorge’s northern bank, and the open-air swimming pool becomes a mini lido in summer, surrounded by beach umbrellas and sunbathers.
With picnic grounds, restaurant, kiosk, cafe, wandering peacocks, scenic lookouts, a lofty suspension bridge and walking trails, you can easily spend a day here. At night the gorge is beautifully floodlit, and a chairlift whisks visitors over the river to West Launceston.
Before Launceston’s hydro dam was completed in 1955, the waters here were channeled to create electricity, with the power station at Duck Reach upriver from the suspension bridge. Now decommissioned, the building serves as a museum. A visit reveals the story of Launceston’s early days and the Duck Reach power plant.
Cataract Gorge is a 10-minute stroll west of central Launceston.
Just walk along Bridge Road from the city center and you’ll come to the Cataract Walk trail winding along next to the South Esk River, leading to the chairlift station and restaurant.