Cataract Gorge ReserveKey attractions and features of the Cataract Gorge Reserve
- Access to the reserve is via staircase and path.
- Wheelchair access via the inclinator
- Alexandra Suspension Bridge
- Basin Cottage information and historical displays
- BBQ's and picnic tables
- Café, restaurant and kiosks
- Car and coach bays providing easy access to entrance
- Close proximity to the city
- Guided walks ($5.00 per person - bookings essential)
- Native wildlife, flora and fauna
- Scenic lookouts and walking trails throughout the Reserve
- Stunning Victorian gardens
- Swimming pool and lawn area
- Scenic lookouts and walking trails throughout the reserve
- Viewing platform at Basin Road entrance
- Wheelchair access via the inclinator
- World's longest single span chairlift
The Cataract Gorge Reserve, covering 192 hectares, and just 15 minutes walk from the city centre, is home to a large diversity of plants and animals that live in the bushland and waterways that make up this magnificent treat to locals and tourists alike. The Cataract Gorge Reserve is the heartbeat of Launceston and central to its lifestyle and sense of community.
It has numerous walking trails with lookouts, as well as the world's longest single span chairlift, suspension bridge, an open air swimming pool, children's playground, free barbeques and picnic lawns, the Gorge Restaurant and Basin Cafe, which serve the finest Tasmanian produce and have magnificent views of the Reserve.
In the Cliff Grounds there's a band rotunda with historical information, and peacocks strutting about the graceful Victorian gardens among towering conifers, exotic deciduous trees, azaleas and rhododendrons.
The Cataract Gorge Reserve has inspired many writers, photographers and artists over the years, including the celebrated John Glover who made early sketches in the 1800s. Today the Kings Bridge Gorge Cottage is made available for the Artists in Residence Program and the Basin Cottage at the First Basin houses many old photos and other memorabilia dating from the 1860s.
Nature and wildlife
The Cataract Gorge Reserve contains abundant nature and wildlife. The area includes grasslands, woodlands, dry forests, wet forests and wet gullies, all of which take on the various colours and characteristics of the four seasons. It has an abundance of flora and fauna with 25 threatened flora species, seven threatened fauna species (including the rare Plomley's Trapdoor Spider and the Gorge Snail only known from this location). It is highly unusual in the world for such a dramatic natural place to exist in a city.
In addition to the abundant native flora there are extensive plantings of deciduous varieties as well as a variety of unusual towering conifers from all around the world. Formal gardens including azaleas and rhododendrons are a feature of the Cataract Gorge Reserve providing colour change variations throughout the seasons.
The Cataract Gorge Reserve is also known for its parading peacocks.
Native plants of the Cataract Gorge Reserve brochure (PDF 2.9MB)
Approx. 1km (15 minutes)
Easy - sealed/boardwalk (wheelchair accessible with assistance)
Linking Kings Bridge to the beautiful Victorian gardens of the Cataract Gorge Cliff Grounds. Providing views of the dolerite columns and South Esk River.
First Basin Loop
Approx. 900m (20 minutes)
Easy - part sealed
This trail will enable you to discover the First Basin with the chairlift overhead, taking in views of the river, basin lawns and swimming pool.
Zig Zag Track
Approx. 1km (20 minutes)
Hard - dirt/informal tracks
Historical gravel trail that links Kings Bridge to the First Basin, with a series of zig-zags that climb high above the Cataract Gorge. This trail has been described as 'testing the lungs of travellers' but the views are worth the effort.
Duck Reach Trail
First Basin - Duck Reach - Approx. 2km (45 minutes)
Duck Reach - First Basin via Reedy/Snake Gully Track - Approx. 2.2km (45 minutes)
Moderate/Hard - gravel trail
A gravel trail (with a few steep sections) following the South Esk River from the Cataract Gorge to the historic Duck Reach Power Station.
The Cataract Gorge Reserve volunteers organise guided walks - a series of interpretive walks throughout the magnificent Cataract Gorge Reserve. All walks depart from the Basin Cottage, which houses many old photos dating from the 1860s and tourist information.
Walks range from an easy one hour, 1.3 kilometre walk to the more challenging 5.1 kilometre walk. There is also a monthly special event walk, sharing stories of the Cataract Gorge Reserve in earlier days and the way it has become the amazing natural beauty enjoyed today.
For more information, charges, or to book a Gorgeous Guided Walk (group bookings are available) call the Basin Cottage on 6333 0715 or 0457 784 420 or send an email.
Previously known as the First Basin Caretakers Cottage, is situated on the western side of the Cataract Gorge Reserve and accessed from Basin Road. The Cottage holds a pictorial history of the Cataract Gorge Reserve, its developments and events that have shaped our history. An exhibition space is available for use by artists or interest groups associated with the Cataract Gorge Reserve. We can also provide information to locals and tourists about attractions and accommodation in Tasmania. Entry to the cottage is free.
Are you interested in the outdoors, historical facts, geology, flora, fauna, educating or galleries?
This Program began in 2006 and has been expanding ever since. Currently there are opportunities for cottage attendants, a curator, educators, gardeners and guides.
These roles include the following:
The Cataract Gorge Reserve Volunteers are involved in a range of activities and programs. Volunteers currently commit to between one and eight days per month. If you are interested in finding out more about the Cataract Gorge Reserve Volunteer Program please call the Council's Volunteer Coordinator on 03 6333 0715, 0457 784 420 or send an email.
The Council's Basin Cottage is the base for this Program. Opening hours are from Monday to Sunday 10.00am until 2.00pm. Training and other benefits are available to volunteers.
Gorgeous Walks and Talks
The Program features interesting one hour talks relating to the Cataract Gorge Reserve and surrounding areas on the first Wednesday of each month. Events begin at 10.00am and are follwed by refreshments. Cost is $3.00 per person.
Kings Bridge Gorge Cottage
The Kings Bridge Gorge Cottage is located in the Cataract Gorge Reserve, less than one kilometre from the city centre. The Cottage was built in the 1890s and originally housed the gatekeeper for the Reserve. Over the last century it has been photographed, sketched and painted numerous times and has featured on many postcards, past and present.
Situated in Launceston's Cataract Gorge Reserve the Kings Bridge Gorge Cottage is now being used for an Artists in Residence Program. Residencies allow particular opportunities for artists to experience the character of a place of great depth, culminating in a diverse range of rich and vibrant art interpretation specific to place.
For further information see - Artist in Residence Program.
Rock climbing The cliff face of the Cataract Gorge Reserve is one of the best places in Northern Tasmania to undertake rock climbing and abseiling. There are 850 routes in Cataract Gorge and further upstream, all located minutes from the centre of Launceston. All the climbs on the south side of the Cataract Gorge can be accessed from the Zig-Zag Track, which starts at the south side of Kings Bridge. Parking is available in the Penny Royal car park, just before the Bridge.
The Council does not inspect or audit the sites to ascertain whether they are safe or not or whether there are any hidden dangers. The Council has no expertise in that field. It is up to the individual to climb and abseil responsibly. The Council accepts no responsibility for climbing sites, or any accidents and incidents resulting from climbing or abseiling activities. Please read the Council's Rock Climbing Code of Conduct (PDF 404 KB) for further information.
The world famous Basin Chairlift's 308 metre central span traverses the huge, naturally formed basin filled by the waters of the South Esk River. It is the world's longest single span chairlift. The gentle, yet awe-inspiring ride provides stunning views of the river, majestic dolerite cliffs and the Cataract Gorge's beautiful gardens. The Chairlift is open everyday from 9.00am and is accessible from both sides of the river basin.
For more information please call 03 6331 5915 or send an email. Group bookings are accepted.
Basin Cafe and Gorge Restaurant
One of the great pleasures in the Cataract Gorge Reserve is to enjoy some delicious Tasmanian fare at either the historic Gorge Restaurant located in the Cliff Grounds, or the Basin Cafe near the Basin Chairlift's main station, which boasts magnificent views.
The Basin Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea from seven days a week from 8.00am to 5.00pm (open until 6.00pm in summer).
The Gorge Restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday from 12.00 noon for lunch and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner from 6.30pm. It also has a kiosk open seven days from 9.00am. For bookings at the Gorge Restaurant, please call 03 6331 3330.