Cataract Gorge

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Cataract Gorge
Alexandra Suspension bridge - launceston tasmania.jpg
Alexandra Suspension bridge at Cataract Gorge's First Basin
Official name: Cataract Gorge
Nickname: The Gorge
Country Australia
State Tasmania
Municipality Launceston

The Cataract Gorge is a river gorge in Launceston, northern Tasmania, Australia and is one of the region's premier tourist attractions. It is found at the lower section of the South Esk River. The earliest known European visitor to the site was William Collins, who discovered its entrance in 1804.[1]

A pathway, known as the King’s Bridge-Cataract Walk, and originally built by volunteers in the 1890s, runs along the north bank of the Cataract Gorge,[2][3] and is a popular tourist destination. The original toll house at which pedestrians had to pay to enter the walk can still be seen near King's Bridge on the northern edge of the gorge.

A chairlift is the longest single-span chairlift in the world, with the longest span being 308 m (1,010 ft).[4] The chairlift, built in 1972, has a total span of 457 m (1,499 ft).

Before the Trevallyn Dam was built upstream in the 1950s, flood waters could rise up as high as 12 metres.[citation needed] In the past, there was a power station at Duck Reach, about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) from a suspension bridge which was built in 1940. It was washed away in the floods of 1929, rebuilt and then decommissioned when the Trevallyn Dam was finished in 1955. The building is now an interpretive museum.

The First Basin on the southern side features a swimming pool, the aforementioned chairlift, two cafés, a funicular railway and an open area surrounded by bushland. At the bottom of the funicular railways is a small cottage which contains photographs and paintings of the basin and downriver Gorge. The basin itself has created many of myths about its depth: some locals say it is a bottomless pit; a volcanic plug; or that a submarine sent in to find its bottom during the 1960s ran out cable before accomplishing this feat. Measurements in 2011 found the maximum depth is 19 metres (62 ft).[5]

Prior to the development of the Trevallyn Dam there were two lesser basins upstream of the "First Basin".

At the lower end of the gorge, the South Esk spills into the Tamar River going under King's Bridge and another more modern bridge on the way. The King's Bridge was the only bridge leading north out of the city for nearly 100 years.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bladen, F. M. (Frank Murcott), ed. (1897), Historical records of New South Wales, Volume 5—King, 1803-1805, Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, p. 306 
  2. ^ "Cataract Gorge Reserve". 2008-06-15. 
  3. ^ "Cataract Gorge". 2008-06-15. 
  4. ^ "Longest Single span chairlift". 2007-09-22. 
  5. ^ "Depth of the basin discovered". 2011-12-22. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Green, Anne (2006). The Home of Sports and Manly Exercise : Places of Leisure in Launceston. Launceston City Council. ISBN 0-9596090-7-5. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°26′46″S 147°7′10″E / 41.44611°S 147.11944°E / -41.44611; 147.11944