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cataract gorge

Kings Bridge
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Restaurant at First Basin
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Rotunda at First Basin
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Giant trees at First Basin
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Path to Duckreach
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
First Basin from the lookout
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Tamar River tour boat
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Alexander Suspension Bridge
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region
Duckreach Power Station
Cataract Gorge
Tamar Valley Region

Launceston's CATARACT GORGE

Launceston's CATARACT GORGE is a spectacular gorge on the north western edge of Launceston City. It begins just west of the old Kings Bridge. Here you can see towering cliffs, giant trees and peaceful waters. There are also many peacocks and wallabies wandering around the tourist areas. The area is flood lighted at night. There are many walks, both easy and hard, in the Gorge area. There is also a great lookout and a long walk to the Duck Reach power station and the Trevallyn Dam for good walkers. At First Basin, in the heart of the Gorge, are 2 cafes, plus a large car park. There is wheel chair access to Cataract Gorge that begins on the south side of the First Basin area. The other sights of Launceston are also discussed in the LAUNCESTON CITY, TREVALLYN, TAMAR ISLAND and TASMANIA ZOO pages.

From LAUNCESTON you are 20 minutes from EVANDALE, LONGFORD, CARRICK, EXETER, TAMAR ISLAND and TASMANIA ZOO, GRINDELWALD.

You are 40 minutes from BEACONSFIELD, BEAUTY POINT, LILYDALE, GEORGE TOWN, WESTBURY, Mt BARROW, Mt ARTHUR, LONGFORD and DELORAINE.

You are 60 minutes from GREENS BEACH, the NARAWNTAPU, Mt BEN LOMOND, Mt BEN NEVIS, SCOTTSDALE, WEYMOUTH, CAMPBELL TOWN, MOLE CREEK, the GREAT LAKE, LIFFEY FALLS and DEVONPORT.

Nearby places are described in the TAMAR VALLEY REGION, LAUNCESTON-TREVALLYN, LAUNCESTON City, GRINDELWALD, EXETER, BEACONSFIELD, BEAUTY POINT, TASMANIA ZOO, CARRICK, WESTBURY, LONGFORD and TAMAR ISLAND pages.


View Region Tamar in a larger map


View Launceston in a larger map

FACILITIES: There is a cafe and restaurant at the First Basin of Cataract Gorge. Launceston is the second city of Tasmania. There is a huge shopping precinct in the Launceston CBD. There are more shopping precincts in the suburbs. There is much accommodation in LAUNCESTON.

TOURIST information is at Cornwall Square, 16 St John Street, Launceston City, The telephone number is (03) 6336 3133 or contact www.visitlauncestontamar.com.au

For PRIVATE GUIDED TOURS telephone 1800 651 827

SIGHTS: Launceston's Cataract Gorge is a highlight of the City. It begins in the CBD at King's Bridge and continues for many kilometres to Trevallyn Dam. Most people do the short walk from King's Bridge to FIRST BASIN, where there is a lovely old kiosk and restaurant.

There is an easy walk north of the river to the First Basin of the Cataract Gorge and a more difficult walk south of the river. Both begin at Kings Bridge.

The more intrepid walk the extra kilometres to the old DUCK REACH Power Station of Cataract Gorge. Other walking tracks go all the way to the TREVALLYN DAM.

Near the old gate keepers house at Kings Bridge is a stair way that takes you to a lookout and walk deep into TREVALLYN, where you can see its fine old houses.

ROUTES: From the LAUNCESTON CBD just walk to the river at King's Bridge.

Alternatively from the LAUNCESTON CBD you can drive west on Paterson Street, which will take you across the old King's Bridge. This continues up the hill as Trevallyn Road. Turn north on Gorge Road and follow it into the park.

Finally you can reach the Gorge by turning west on Frederick Street and following it up the hill into historic West Launceston. Then turn north onto Basin Road and follow it to the Cataract Gorge Car Park. This route is well signed.

Click to see the LARGER PHOTO GALLERY.

  • LOWER GORGE
  • First Basin
  • Duckreach
  • Trevallyn Dam
  • 2016 Flood

 

Launceston, Cataract Gorge Kings Bridge

1/ The Cataract Gorge is located in Launceston in north eastern Tasmania. This photo shows the King's Bridge. The easiest walk around the Cataract Gorge begins or ends at King's Bridge on the northern side of the Gorge. The track on the southern side is much more difficult.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge Caretakers House

2/ The ancient caretaker's house marks the start of the walk to the First Basin area of Cataract Gorge.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge tour boat

3/ Cruise boats tour the lower part of Cataract Gorge near Kings Bridge

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

4/ Cataract Gorge can be an awesome sight. This photo was taken during the flood of 2012. As you can see, this walk can be accessed even by wheel chairs.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

5/ This is the view into the cauldron of Cataract Gorge from a higher lookout during the 2012 flood.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

6/ This is a view looking into the Cataract Gorge during the flood of 2012.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

7/ The easy walkway snakes around the edge of the Cataract Gorge on a raised platform.

 

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

1/ This is the chair lift view of the cafe and pool at the First Basin park area of Cataract Gorge.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

2/ This shows the same view during the 2012 flood. As you can see, it truly was an awesome sight.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park chairlift

3/ This photo shows the chair lift crossing the causeway at the First Basin of Cataract Gorge.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

4/ This is a summers day view of the lawn at First Basin looking towards the Alexander Suspension Bridge. This area of Cataract Gorge is a favorite bathing area with the young people of Launceston.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

5/ An elevator now takes patrons from the upper car park to the First Basin lawn area. Access to Cataract Gorge has been improved for disabled people.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park causeway

6/ This photo shows the causeway of First Basin with the chair lift above. Cataract Gorge is the most popular area of Launceston.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park rotunda

7/ On the western side of First Basin is a forested area with a lovely old rotunda. The toilets are under it.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

8/ Inside the rotunda is important, historic information about the Cataract Gorge and the Launceston area.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park

9/ Near the rotunda are some enormous pines, which are over a century in age. The Cataract Gorge was once the garden property of a Launceston millionaire.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park kiosk

10/ The First Basin of Cataract Gorge has a historic kiosk, which is a great place to take a break.

 

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park alexander bridge

1/ The walk to the Duck Reach Power Station of Cataract Gorge begins at the Alexander Bridge at First Basin. This is an ancient cable bridge built about 1900.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park alexander bridge

2/ The walkway across the Alexander cable bridge is narrow and it sways in the wind. It is closed for safety in heavy winds.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park alexander bridge

3/ This was the view from the Alexander lookout during the great flood of 2012. The Cataract Gorge that day was an awesome sight.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park alexander bridge

4/ The is the sign to the Duck Reach walk of Cataract Gorge. This is harder than the easy walk from Launceston CBD to the First Basin park.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge First Basin Park alexander bridge

5/ This photo shows the start of the Duck Reach walk in normal times.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

6/ This shows the almost the same area of Cataract Gorge during the 2012 flood.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

7/ The torrent down the higher Cataract Gorge was thunderous during the great 2012 flood.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge Duck Reach power station

8/ The walk ends when you reach the old Duck Reach Power Station. This once provided power to the city of Launceston. The device on the right is part of a cable car that once brought equipment from the top of the cliff on the south face of the Cataract Gorge.

Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

9/ This is the view inside the power station. Here you can see some of the pipes and one of the generators that once made electrical power for nearby Launceston.

Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

10/ This is the one surviving generator. Behind it is a photo and next to it is an explanation panel. There are many other explanation panels inside the power station.

Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

11/ This is the view from the north face of the Cataract Gorge. Below is the power station and the bridge. Note how the pipes come flow down hill to power the turbines in the power station below. The climb up the north face involves ascending a steep stairway.

bridge at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

12/ This is the ancient bridge that connects the north and south sides of the Cataract Gore at Duckreach. During the Great Flood of 1929 the original bridge was destroyed.

bridge at Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

13/ This view illustrates the geometry of the bridge. This bridge sways as you cross it and gives you great views of the Tamar River in both directions.

bridge at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

14/ This is the view as you approach the bridge tower on the south face. There is a steep stairway ascending the south face as well, so it is not for the unfit.

Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

15/ This is the lovely eastern view of the Cataract Gorge from the bridge at Duckreach.

Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

16/ This is the lovely western view of the Cataract Gorge from the bridge at Duckreach.

Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

17/ From the top of the north face of the Gorge, you can see across to the old houses of the power station workers. The cable car at the power station connected to the red tower just below the house on the left. These houses now hold a visitor centre.

Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

18/ The cliffs of the Cataract Gorge are used by climbers to practise their skills. On the column in the centre you can see an intrepid climber testing his skills.

Tamar River at Duckreach Power station at Cataract Gorge

19/ I was lucky to be able to capture this beautiful view of the Cataract Gorge as I returned to First Basin.

 

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

1/ The Cataract Gorge walks from First Basin go all the way to the Trevallyn Dam. This is an impressive sight, even when the spill way is not spilling water. The dam provides Launceston with some of its power.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

2/ It is an impressive sight to see the water rushing over the spillway of the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

3/ There is a large park at the Trevallyn Dam with all the picnic facilities. The park is also a muster ground for the local kangaroos.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

4/ Sailing small pleasure boats is very popular at the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

5/ Here you see people enjoying the thrill of racing a sea biscuit on the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

6/ The pebble shore of the Trevallyn Dam has some good bathing beaches.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

7/ This photo shows another view of the bathing beach at Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston, Trevallyn Dam

8/ This photo shows the peaceful, upper Tamar on the long track to the Trevallyn Dam.

 

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

1/ On Tuesday 7 June 2016 northern Tasmania was hit by very heavy downpours of rain. The result was the flooding of a number of rivers including the South Esk River that flows into Launceston. This caused a flood that was even worse than the infamous 1929 flood. The photo above shows the bridge to the Duckreach power station. Pulses of water were actually reaching the floor of the bridge. The tower opposite was destroyed in the 1929 flood, but it survived this flood. This photo was taken on Thursday. By this time the river had already subsided somewhat from its peak. To fully appreciate the flood, you should compare these photos to the photos of similar views shown in my other Cataract Gorge galleries.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

2/ This photo shows the South Esk River surging past the Duckreach power station. It was taken on Thursday and does not show the flood at its peak. Compare this image of a raging torrent to the placid river shown in the other galleries.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

3/ This photo was taken late on Tuesday and shows the flood at its peak. It looks across from the south side of the river to the old Duckreach power station. You can plainly see that some of the pulses of the flood surge are the same height as the bridge.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

4/ This photo was taken on the Thursday from Duckreach power station on the northern side of the river. You can plainly see that pulses of the surge are still higher than the bridge. Access to the power station was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday on my side of the river, so I can only imagine what an awesome sight it must have been at its height on Tuesday.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

5/ This was the view on Thursday of the South Esk River surging past the Duckreach power station. We saw lots of evidence on floor of the power station that it had recently been under water.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

6/ This photo was taken late on Tuesday from the south side of the river. It plainly shows the water surging through the old power station. The position that I took the photo above from is under one metre of water in this photo. A similar flood in 1929 destroyed this power station.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

7/ This photo was taken late on Tuesday and shows the flood waters surging past the bridge at Duckreach. You can see that the bridge was locked for safety reasons.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

8/ One kilometre up river from the Duckreach power station is the Trevallyn Dam. This photo was taken on Thursday and it shows the waters surging over the spill way. I estimated that the spray was at least 12 metres in height. The spray was so intense, even at my height, that it fogged up my camera's lens. The roar of the water was almost deafening. It was truly an awesome sight.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

9/ This photo was taken from the Trevallyn Dam tower. I noted that the water flowing over the spill way created this interesting artistic effect.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

10/ This photo shows a full image of the Trevallyn Dam on the Thursday, so that you can appreciate the extent of the flow. If you look at my photo in the Trevallyn Dam gallery, you can see that the water level was now more than a metre higher over the spill way wall.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

11/ This photo was taken on Wednesday at First Basin. This is about 2 kilometres south of the Trevallyn Dam shown above. It looks south across the First Basin towards the cafe. You can plainly see that the water has flooded the lower level of the cafe. It did not reach this level in the 2012 flood.

Cataract Gorge

12/ This photo was taken from the Eyrie Lookout on the north side of First Basin. It shows the area in normal times. You can plainly see that the cafe is about 100 metres from the river shore line. Compare this to the image above.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

13/ This photo looks south west towards the Alexander Bridge that joins the two halves of First Basin. It was taken on Wednesday and plainly shows pulses of water that are still higher than the bridge. When I took this photo on the Wednesday, the rangers were worried that the bridge would be destroyed, as it was being regularly pounded by logs being propelled down stream by the flood.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

14/ This photo was taken late on Tuesday from the south side of the First Basin at the height of the flood. You can plainly see that the water has reached the second storey of the cafe. This water level is higher than what you can see in my photo of the cafe above that was taken the following day.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

15/ This photo was taken on Tuesday. It represented a tragic sight for the cafe owners. You can plainly see that the flood waters were now flooding into the second storey of the cafe. The South Esk River has never been this high before.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

16/ This photo was also taken on Tuesday, but later in the day. The flood had receded slightly to reveal the children's play equipment. The photo also shows how the whole of the First Basin area was inundated by a raging torrent.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

17/ The track to the lower gorge was blocked on Wednesday, so this was the best view that I could get looking towards Kings Bridge. You can see the flood waters raging down towards the Launceston CBD. The red tower in the distance is the old post office.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

18/ This photo looks across First Basin to the Zig Zag Track. It shows the flood waters rushing down towards the Kings Bridge. These rocks are normally far above the water line.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

19/ This is a photo of the Kings Bridge. This bridge is about one kilometre from the First Basin. This bridge connects the north western side of Launceston to the rest of the city. It was taken late on Tuesday. The water rushing past had already reached a dangerously high new level. The more modern bridge located just east of this bridge was already closed to traffic and all traffic was being diverted to this much older bridge. At the time I was worried that Launceston would be cut in two.

Cataract Gorge Flood of 2016

20/ Launceston is protected by a high flood levee. For the first time in years the flood gates had to be closed. This was a very worrying development for the people of the lower city. It has reignited the debate, as to how high this levee should be.

 

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