We like to take the advice of locals on where to visit, and the Cataract Gorge Reserve (catchy name, right?) rates high on the list of Launceston locals’ favourite places. Situated within a short distance of the town centre, this natural reserve’s beauty has been supplemented with man-made facilities that have turned it into a fantastic recreation ground.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
After the Gorge was discovered by the first European in 1804, it was developed as a recreational area for Launceston's inhabitants.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
When approaching the Gorge from the carpark, it's immediately evident why this is a special place.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
In the distance, a suspension bridge beckons us on the twenty-minute walk over the South Esk River and around the basin.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
We start along the walkway, stopping often to admire the flowers, the rocks and the view.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
The bridge was originally opened in 1904 and has survived multiple floodings of the river.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
The cliffs on either side of the South Esk River beckon rock climbers and abseilers who seek adventures.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
When the South Esk River was last in flood in 2009, its waters reached the base of the two-storey café/amenities block on the reserve.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
Locals like to swim in the river and during our walk we see youths jumping from the rocks into its depths. When we put our toes in the water, the chilly temperature dissuaded us from going for a swim.

Picnic shelter at Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
We examine this picnic shelter carefully to determine its construction materials. Brioni points out the cracks in the rendered cement as proof that the posts aren't timber.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
A chair-lift conveys tourists above the basin's water. Our ratio of adult-to-children prevents us from taking a ride too.

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
All along the circuit, our girls race and balance, enjoying the journey as much as the view!

Peacock at Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
One of the reserve's peacocks comes down to greet us but doesn't let the girls get too close. Later in the carpark, it admires itself in its reflection on vehicles and flirts briefly with our bus.

Stone picnic shelters at Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
Stone picnic shelters have to be extremely well-built — they are inundated when the river floods.

After our survey of the grounds, the girls changed into their swimmers and dashed to the pool. The waters are pretty shallow, but with the sun already over the top of the cliffs, it turned cold quickly and we didn’t stay very long.

Swimming at Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
Using their kickboards, Cali and Dell move their games into the water.

Swimming at Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, December 2012
A railing divides the shallow and deeper waters, and Aisha and Brioni prefer to be on the deeper side as they practice holding their breath and swimming underwater.

Today’s visit to the Gorge provided a great overview of its facilities. There’s more to explore, and we’ll keep this in mind as we travel around the local area. Now that we know how good it is, we’ll be back!