Nature Day Trips: Launceston's Top Attraction
While planning our trip to Launceston, I was worried we wouldn't find enough to do. When I stumbled upon Cataract Gorge, I wondered to myself whether there was enough to do to make it worth visiting. Here's my verdict.
Launceston's Public Backyard
Cataract Gorge is a naturally formed valley between rocky landscapes near the centre of town, at the lower end of the South Esk River (the longest in Tasmania). The Gorge is one of the many beautiful landscapes of wilderness in Tasmania, is home to more than 70 species native to the area, highly talked about by locals, and loved just as much by tourists.
The Cliff Grounds, at the northern side, is engulfed by the ferns and exotic plants of the Victorian garden - and also a hot spot for the many peacocks roaming the grounds. At the southern side, you'll find the First Basin, featuring an open area surrounded by bushland, swimming pool, and the starting point of the chairlift.
From the entrance on Basin road, you can take an easy walk down to First Basin (wheelchair access is available via the Inclinator at the Main Entrance), or if you're coming from Trevallyn Road, there are around 120 or so stairs you can make your way down (and then back up again!!).
Things To Do At Cataract Gorge
- Go on a walk: There's plenty of them to keep you busy. The Cataract Walk (level terrain) and Zig Zag Track (steep walk) surround the gorge, and each are about 1km one-way. If you want to test yourself a little more, there's a 45 minute track that leads right up to Duck Reach, and is said to get the heart pumping.
- Walk the Suspension Bridge: Though nothing is holding the middle, it's not scary at all and is a super quick walk across, above the rocky stream of the River.
- Take the Chairlift: Built in 1972, the chairlift at the Gorge is the longest single span in the world, covering around 457 metres and travelling at an enjoyable slow speed, allowing you to take in the beauty of the surrounds (and snap some photos too!) A one-way ticket for Adults is $12, while return is $15. It doesn't matter too much which option you choose, if you choose to do the return trip, it's a short walk back to the other side you just floated over.
- Laze in the sun: Grab a book, find a spot and spend your day in complete serenity. Time will fly and you'll have some time to relax, regather your thoughts, and get some Vitamin D.
- Go for a dip: From November - March, the public pool is filled up and the locals come down. Shortly before our trip, the Gorge had major flooding so the pool was still getting cleaned, but the thought of snapping a bright blue pool among the dark green of the Gorge makes it a place I want to get back to!
- Have a picnic: There's plenty of places to set up a blanket and some snacks - from grass areas, to park benches or undercover tables.
- Or eat on site: If picnics aren't your thing (or you came unprepared), you can easily wander around to the Basin Cafe or Gorge Restaurant for an energy boost. While we didn't try either of these, they're rated about 4 stars each on Google so they must be good!
What To Do Nearby:
When I say everything is so close in Launceston, I mean everything is so close. The Gorge is a mere 2 minute drive (or 15 minute walk) from the centre of Launceston town, making it extremely convenient to spend the day in, and still wander around the rest of town.
Shop in the CBD: With a miniature Myer, and a mixture of mainstream and boutique stores, you can easily fit some shopping into your action-packed day.
For the foodies:
- Cafe Mondello was the perfect welcome on our first day, with the chef whipping us up a special vegan breakfast that wasn't on the menu. Turns out the chef was vegan too - as was one of the waitresses, who came up and gushed to us about finding like-minded people!
- Pickled Evenings has the best Indian cuisine in the city, and came as a recommendation from our Airbnb hosts. Try the Eggplant and Pumpkin curry, it's delicious.
- Burger Got Soul is a busy little casual diner, specialising in burgers with plenty of tasty options.
- Trevallyn Cafe Culture has good coffee and is located down the road from the Trevallyn Road entrance to the Gorge - making for the perfect pit-stop!