by Jonathan Leeming in Cool Travel on Wednesday 18 September 2013

It was suggested that I check out the Cataract Gorge, one of Launceston’s premier tourist attractions found at the lower section of the South Esk River. So I drove the short distance from the city centre, arriving with an hour or so left before sundown.

The first thing I noticed upon leaving the car park was a huge structure supporting a chairlift across the river: apparently the longest single-span chairlift in the world, with a total span of 457m and its longest single span sitting at 308m.

The chairlift is nestled incongruously amidst towering trees, many of which are exotic species I haven’t typically seen in this part of the world, of particular note being the magnificent Californian Redwood adjacent to the chairlift.

I took a walk around the First Basin, breathing in the subtle perfume of the flowers, herbs and plants that proliferate there, and admiring the steep dolomite cliffs dropping away into the rolling water of the gorge below.

I was also thrilled to hear the peculiar caw of peacocks in the distance, another thing I haven’t heard for many years.

Passing tourists and runners alike, I followed the winding path until I got to the Alexandra Suspension bridge, which bobs and wobbles as only old suspension bridges can do.

Having forgotten to bring a strap for my camera though, I didn’t linger long before returning back the way I’d come, heading back to the guesthouse to get ready for dinner.

Another point of interest of which I’ve since been told is that on October 27 this year, the Cataract Gorge is to host the inaugural Launceston Cataract Challenge: a multi-discipline community sporting event that will include running, biking, kayaking as well as a ropes course.

I’ve been invited to come back and participate by its founder, Cade Smith. Something to think about.