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Launceston.
Launceston.
Cataract Gorge.
There is so much to do for the water lovers.

Cataract Gorge

Thursday, June 21, 2001
You don't have to stroll too far in Tasmania for an outdoor adventure haven.

During the Jurassic period, two fault lines met and created a wonderful geological formation now known as Cataract Gorge. Before running into the Tamar River, the South Esk River flows very quickly through the centre of the gorge, which has two distinct sides. The southern side is all Australian, with native flora and fauna, while the northern side is international, having been created by the ladies of Launceston at the turn of the last century. The dolomite cliffs on either side of the South Esk are almost vertical and there is a nature reserve along its banks.

The area appeals to adventurers, hikers, boaters, swimmers or those just wanting to share a picnic with peacocks and countless indigenous birds, wallabies, possums, echidnas and native hens.

The gorge has three river basins, the largest being First Basin, which widens into a large pool. Swimming is not recommended here as it is very cold, very deep and holds rocks and other hazards. If you feel like a swim, there is a large concrete pool open from early November until the end of March.

A 380m chairlift runs across First Basin to the southern side of the river and the views are quite spectacular. You can also walk across the Alexandra Suspension Bridge or across a natural rock footbridge.

There are nine walks, tracks or trails. Walks are good for anyone; tracks are for hikers with some skill and the trails are quite rough, so a higher level of skill is recommended. Boots are necessary for tracks and trails. One track leads to the Duck Reach Power Station, which was built in 1895.

The most popular walk is 2.8km long, starting at the northern end of Kings Bridge, following the northern side of the gorge, across the suspension bridge to the southern side.

Two boats travel along the gorge. The Odyssey takes up to 60 people for a lunch or dinner cruise and the paddlewheeler, Lady Stelfox, takes 35-minute cruises six times a day. They depart from Ritchies Mill Arts Centre, where there is a five-star restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a restaurant near First Basin, as well as a kiosk, and all places serve food from the Tamar Valley.

If rock climbing and cable hang-gliding are on your list of things to do, this is the place to try both. The simulated hang-glide is more than 200m in length.

Location

Three kilometres from the centre of Launceston.

Cost

Cataract Gorge is open all year round and entry is free.
Rock climbing with Tasmanian Expeditions costs $75 for a half day and $130 for a full day. Bookings are essential.
Cable hang-gliding costs $11 per person per flight. There is no need to book.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Launceston City Council
Ph: (03) 6323 3141
Fax: (03) 6323 3001
Tasmanian Expeditions
Ph: (03) 6334 3477
Fax: (03) 6334 3463
Cable Hang Gliding
Ph: 0419 311 198

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