Tasmania: Cataract Gorge, Launceston

Following on from our adventure to the East Coast of Tasmania, we had one full day left in Launceston and wanted to make the most of it.
Jay and myself were dropped off early in the morning by Phillip at Cataract Gorge; He pointed us in the direction of a two-hour circuit around the Gorge and then arranged a place to meet for a picnic lunch later on. Having read very little about the Gorge and seen very few images, neither of us were quite prepared to have such a great day hiking the area.

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Zig-Zag Trail

We began our walk along the Zig-Zag trail, taking us along one side of the gorge. It begun with a reasonably steep incline that took us high above the river. The top of the climb offered up some fantastic viewpoints and lookouts back across the town and down to the first basin of the river run.

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3940Beginning our descent into the first river basin, we bumped into an Echidna- a sort of anteater/ hedgehog cross breed. It was pretty relaxed with us being around it, but I think that might be because it is blind or something- it didn’t seem to be very responsive to us either way; But it was pretty cool to see and was our first real taste of native Australian wildlife.

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We dropped further down the gorge and into the bush, guided by nearing cries of children playing. 10 minutes later and we had reached the first Basin- an open air swimming pool that spilled into the gorge- it was awesome! Both Jay and myself were pretty jealous that this is where the youth of Launceston got their kicks and where they spent their teenage years- jumping off rocks, swimming in the river and drinking by the riverside gorge- a far cry from anything in England.

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Duck Reach Track

Knowing that we would meet Phillip here for lunch, we didn’t spend too long around the first basin and continued our walk upstream, distancing ourselves from the crowds and heading towards the second basin.
We followed the Duck Reach Track, a trail that took us across several suspension bridges and further into the river gorge, that became increasingly garnished by large boulders.
We eventually reached a large abandoned Hydro-Electrical Power Station. The factory, now a museum, had once powered the whole of Launceston and allowed the town to flourish, eventually cradling it to become Tasmania’s second largest city. The factory would prove the farthest point of our hike and from here, we crossed another bridge to walk along the other side of the gorge.

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Crossing the bridge, we once again found us climbing along a series of steps to summit the rock-face. Almost immediately, we were greeted by a large rock wallaby- perching itself on the rocks infront of us, before swiftly bouncing away into the bush. In fact, we saw no other people on this side of the walk- instead we were greeted by 3 or 4 smaller wallaby’s, hundreds of butterfly’s and a deafening sound of Cicada’s as we delved deep into the forest bush, far from the river.

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We continued our hike into the bush thicket for almost an hour before the path looped us back towards the first basin gorge and once again to civilization.
Crossing the suspension bridge, we met up with Phillip, who had brought an army of food to accompany us as we sat next to the pool. After our fill of sandwiches, pasta and beer; Jay and myself made our way into the gorge and went for a swim, before mustering up the courage to jump off the rocks with the locals.

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Back to Launceston

Jay and myself opted to walk home instead of riding with Phillip, as to walk along the other side of the gorge and to explore the city further. We headed along the riverside and made our way to the seaport.
From here we walked through the royal park, where we sat and watched the local Australian Football team go through their hill run’s and drills. We took a brief walk through the city centre, before ticking off all the boxes by making our way to James Boags brewery.
We made our way back home and for a final time, perched ourselves collectively on the veranda, sipping beer and then feasting on yet another perfectly cooked dinner.
In the morning we are making our way to Hobart, where we will have to sacrifice our lavish comforts to return to backpacking. We’ve had a great time up in the North of Tasmania and are both hugely thankful for everything Phillip, Phillipa and family have done for us!

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