Contractor appointed for Cataract Walk works

Published on 15 September 2023

The Cataract Gorge.jpg

The City of Launceston has appointed a contractor to remove a failed retaining wall which is posing ongoing safety risks to the popular Cataract Walk trail.


It's expected the removal of the bluestone retaining wall will begin in coming weeks, allowing the Council to re-open the walkway to the public early next year.


The privately-owned retaining wall failed in late June. It is built on steep terrain above the 1km-long walking track which links Kings Bridge with the Cataract Gorge's Cliff Grounds.


Both the Cataract Walk and Trevallyn Steps track, between South Esk Road and Kings Bridge, have been closed to the public as a result of the retaining wall failure, with subsequent engineering assessments indicating the retaining wall poses an extreme safety risk.


The Council installed six tilt sensors on selected parts of the wall in July.


The sensors show the wall is continuing to move, indicating a total failure could occur at any time without warning.


The Council has allocated $1m from its Annual Budget for the works, but the overall costs to the Council are likely to be lower once the apportionment of costs is finalised.


Launceston Mayor Matthew Garwood said the Cataract Walk was a vital link to one of the state’s most popular visitor drawcards, and the Council is prioritising its re-opening.


"We know that the wall is going to fail completely at some point soon," Mayor Garwood said.


"If it did fail without our intervention, the costs to the Council and our community to make the walkway safe again would be too large, not only financially but also accessibility wise.


"The Council has therefore decided to act immediately, and will seek to work with the property owners to have the work undertaken as quickly as possible.


"Due to the logistical challenges, Council are intending to take advantage of the drier conditions to remove the retaining wall, and will also look to re-purpose the bluestone from the wall, for use in other community projects around the city — a thrifty solution for a significant saving to the Council.


"The City of Launceston has taken a lead role in resolving this infrastructure issue to safely enable the re-opening of the Cataract Walk to the public, given its popularity with recreational users and its importance to the city's visitor economy.


"We continue to ask for the community's patience as we get this important infrastructure project underway.


"We will be pulling out all stops to complete the work as quickly as practicable."