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LAUNCESTON - CATARACT GORGE

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Click to go to the LAUNCESTON - CATARACT GORGE information page.

  • LOWER GORGE
  • FIRST BASIN
  • DUCKREACH
  • TREVALLYN DAM
  • 2016 FLOOD

 

Launceston Cataract Gorge

1/ The area between Kings Bridge and the First Basin Park is the most popular part of the Gorge.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

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

Launceston Cataract Gorge

3/ Small boats venture into this section of the Gorge, when the water is calm.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

4/ In 2012 Cataract Gorge experienced a spectacular flood, which raised the water to the old levels.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

5/ This is the view from a higher lookout of the great 2012 flood.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

6/ In the 2012 flood the water came to within just four metres of this lookout.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

7/ A safe and fairly level walkway takes visitors to great viewing spots in this section..

Launceston Cataract Gorge

8/ This is the lower gorge in normal times. Note how you can easily cross on the rocks.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

9/ This is another view of First Basin in normal times.

 

Launceston Cataract Gorge

1/ This is the chair lift view of the cafe, lawn and pool at the First Basin park.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

2/ This is the same area of the lawn and cafe during the great 2012 flood.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

3/ The chair lift at First Basin gives you a great view of the area.

3/ This shows First Basin during a dry summer. It makes quite a comparison.

Launceston, Cataract Gorge

4/ This shows the Lawn in summer looking towards the Alexander Bridge.

First Basin park

5/ This shows the causeway that leads away from the lawn to the northern area of the park.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

6/ An elevator now takes guests from the upper car park to the lawn below.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

7/ On the northern side is a forested area with a lovely rotunda.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

8/ Inside the rotunda is important historic information about the Gorge area.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

9/ Near the rotunda are some enormous pines, which are over a century in age.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

10/ The area also includes a historic kiosk, which is a great place to take a break.

 

Launceston Cataract Gorge

1/ There is a more difficult track from the Alexander Bridge to the Duck Reach Power Station.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

2/ The Alexander Suspension Bridge was built in 1890 and gives great views of the Gorge.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

3/ This is the view from the Alexander Lookout during the 2012 flood.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

4/ The sign points the way to the Duck Reach Walk. This is harder than the First Basin Walk.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

5/ This shows the view up the Gorge during normal flow times.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

6/ This shows the flow during the massive flood of 2012.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

7/ In some places the rushing water made spectacular sights.

Launceston Cataract Gorge

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 on 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.

generator at Duckreach Power Station on 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 on 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 on 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 Duckreach Power Station on 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 South Esk River in both directions.

bridge at Duckreach Power Station on Cataract Gorge

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

Tamar River at Duckreach Power Station on Cataract Gorge

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

Tamar River at Duckreach Power Station on Cataract Gorge

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

Tamar River at Duckreach Power Station on 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.

rock climbers 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 on 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 walks from First Basin eventually lead to the impressive sight of the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

2/ There is a large park with picnic facilities at the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

3/ The dam is popular with small pleasure boats.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

4/ Here you see people enjoying the thrills of a sea biscuit ride.

5/ This shows the bathing area of the dam. Note the pebble beach.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

6/ This photo shows a wide view of the lake of the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

7/ The Upper Tamar flows gently through a gorge. Just beyond is the Trevallyn Dam.

Launceston Trevallyn Dam

8/ When the spillway is flowing, the dam is an impressive sight.

 

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 FLood of 2016

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 in the 2016 flood

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 in the 2016 flood

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.

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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