Cataract Gorge. Launceston Chapter 3.
Cataract Gorge is a ten minute stroll from the city centre of Launceston. There is a circular walking track that takes you along the top of the gorge, down to the basin where you cross the suspension bridge before heading back up the valley towards town. But before even getting to the beginning of the walk the sights along the way are worth a stop to take in. Here you will find the gun powder mill with its red brick buildings now restored and turned into residential accommodation.
The old tram that used to run alongside the houses is housed in its terminal all shiny and gleaming. There is a restored water-mill complete with waterwheel and windmill which now doubles as an old-fashioned lolly shop and a high-class hotel – thank goodness I didn’t know about that one before I booked! Then just before the gorge there is another windmill now converted into a coffee shop and restaurant that has great cakes (I can vouch for that one), a varied menu and a boutique craft shop above it.
Tourist books will tell you that the gorge is lit up at night and worth a look – I can’t comment as we didn’t do this. On the advice of the staff at the info centre we set out for the circular walk which is supposed to take about 20 minutes – although we took longer as photographs had to be taken, scenery admired, wildlife tracked down and water to be drunk (it was a very hot day).
Half way around we came to the basin – which as it turns out is also accessible by car and has a free swimming pool – at this point I decided that I was growing very attached to Tasmanian people, they like free things just like me! However the free swim was something the staff at the information centre omitted to tell us, so with no bathers all we could do was look on as the populace splashed about in the hot day whilst we steamed in the heat.
Having had enough of looking at cool people we headed off across the suspension bridge for the return journey. Now I’m not good with heights – especially when the only thing between me and the abyss is a fragile looking holed bridge that bounces up and down when there are more than 2 people walking across it. I have to admit that it took a few attempts to get across (chicken).
Now for the best bit of the walk. Let me just say that I’ve lived in Melbourne for nearly 7 years now and have never seen as much wildlife in the wild as I did in Tasmania in the 2 weeks I was there, so excuse me if I get just a tad over-excited and come over all Dr Doolittle about the native animals. Check these little duds out and I dare you not to say awww.
nuff said – but I will give you a clue where you can find them if you ever visit – look for the horse!
And so I leave you with some scenic shots of the gorge whilst I revisit the memory of the passion fruit and orange cake I consumed straight after the walk. Sadly for you this is something I can’t share!