Located just 15 minutes' walk from the centre of Launceston, Cataract Gorge Reserve is where pristine wilderness brushes the urban city. The stunning site offers outdoor distractions like walking and hiking paths, lookouts, gardens, a swimming pool, local wildlife, a suspension bridge and chair lift, as well as a restaurant and cafe – complete with resident peacocks.
Cataract Gorge offers stunning vistas with plunging cliffs on the riverbanks of the South Esk as it enters the Tamar River, set among a wildlife reserve. Known locally as 'The Gorge', it's a favourite spot for families, rock climbers and visitors and floodlit at night. Take the 1km path along the cliff face and over Kings Bridge suspension bridge looking down at the South Esk River. On the southern side is the First Basin, which contains a free swimming pool (open from November to March) and bushland. The northern side or Cliff Grounds Reserve includes a Victorian garden of ferns and exotic plants as well as picnic lawns, a pub and other dining spots.
Take the First Basin Chairlift, the longest single chairlift span in the world at 308m, and enjoy the aerial ride to Cliff Grounds Reserve to visit Cataract Gorge. Return tickets are AU$15 for adults, AU$10 for kids aged four to 15 and under-threes ride for free. A 45-minute walking track from Kings Bridge leads visitors on to the Second Basin and the historic Duck Reach Power Station, completed in 1895, which is now a museum – the Interpretation Centre.
Entry to Cataract Gorge is free. To walk to Cataract Gorge Reserve from the city centre, head down York Street and climb up the stairs to Upper York Street. Turn right onto Hill Street and left to stay on Upper York Street. Turn left onto Basin Road for the gorge. Alternatively, it's a seven-minute drive to the main carpark at First Basin, or an 18-minute bus ride from the city on buses 64, 66 and 90R.