Latest travel information concerning COVID-19.

  • Translate Site
  • Clouds 20°C

Launceston in summer according to Peter

Grab a water bottle and walking boots

The zig-zag track is a steep, craggy climb dotted with exposed dolerite along the west side of the Cataract Gorge Reserve in Launceston's centre. It's a famous, possibly infamous, section of the Reserve that's challenged walkers from across the world since it was carved out in 1885.

It's a worthwhile ascent: stunning scenes are promised along and at the track's pinnacle, as is the likelihood of a subsequent solid nights' sleep, given the hundreds of sheer steps involved.

Peter Stackhouse jocularly says his favourite part of the track is reaching the bottom of it. Peter's a 20 year veteran of the Launceston Walking Club and one sunny afternoon, shares his memories of the trail.

"We lived at the top of Brisbane Street for 18 years so this patch where I'm sitting, this was my children's backyard - they were pretty lucky!"

"I went to school here in Launceston then left as a lot of Tasmanians do: growing up on an island, you tend to want to get out and see what else is happening. Then as a young married couple we travelled overseas then came back and after having three children we settled in Launceston in the mid-1980s."

Growing up, Peter played over the other side of town: he frequented Windmill Hill pool (now known as the Launceston Leisure and Aquatic Centre) and barely visited what he now recognises as one of the most stunning natural sites on the planet, the Gorge.

He's well-versed on the many, many tracks through this area that is rich in indigenous stories and meaning and offers experiences such as a chairlift, eateries and swimming. Peter points out the industrious past of the place, also: after the devastating floods of 1929, locals sprang into action to repair the Alexander Suspension Bridge, the Duck Reach Power Station brought light to thousands of homes across the state and the Kings Bridge was installed by barge in 1864.

Launceston's built history is one of the city's defining features according to Peter and he hopes people stop to enjoy it.

"One of the things I really like about this place is the architecture. If you take time to walk around the streets and lift your eyes to look at the second and third storeys, there are some wonderful facades."

Of course, Launnie's buildings are best explored by foot, and Peter says there are some great, easy walks that'll allow visitors to soak up the natural sites, too.

"The Ribbon of Blue walk from Hobler's Bridge to Henry Street, around Heritage Forest and from the South Esk Rowing Club to Tailrace are some great paths. A lesser-known area that's great for walkers is Kate Reed Reserve: in just two minutes you can be in the bush - just watch out for mountain bikers!"

Further afield, Peter points to Liffey Falls, Hollybank and Ben Lomond as destinations with great walking opportunities.

But central Launnie remains close to Peter's heart: it's where he raised his family, all grown up now and living around the world, but who are always excited to return home.

"It's the easy pace of a country town, it's not busy, and you'll often have the opportunity of pointing tourists in the right direction."

Hopping up from a rock after a chat and a swig of water, Peter sets off toward his favourite section of the zig-zag: Giant's Grave, a platform on the First Basin end of the track where you'll catch a more than view of the Gorge and all its raw beauty.

If you take time to walk around the streets and lift your eyes to look at the second and third storeys, there are some wonderful facades