Montezuma Falls

West Coast Council / near Zeehan / Rosebery, Tasmania, Australia

Rating: 3.5     Difficulty: 4
Montezuma Falls
Montezuma Falls had to have been one of the more impressive and memorable waterfalls that Julie and I visited during our drought-stricken trip to Tasmania in November 2006. In fact, it could very well have been up there as one of the best waterfalls we had seen on that entire trip, which also encompassed New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Indeed, the falls tumbled at a cumulative height of 104m making it one of the highest waterfalls in the state. We also had to earn our visit with a bit of a long walk through a former tramway route that included mine shafts, old growth forest, and even some harrowing swinging bridges spanning high up the gorge carved out by the Ring River. The old North East Dundas Tramway used to run between Zeehan and the old site of Williamsford in the 1890s.

Prior to visiting the falls, I often wondered how the name of the last Aztec emperor made its way to the West Coast of Tasmania, but then a sign along the track informed us that the name came from the Montezuma Mining Company, which used to mine for silver here in the 1980s. It was said that during the mining heyday, much of the forest around the tramway had been cleared, but we hardly knew this was case these days as it seemed the forest had recovered around the track nicely.

One of the abandoned mine shafts we spotted along the trail Speaking of the hike, Julie and I earned our visit to Montezuma Falls as the hiking track was said to be about 3 hours return. I've seen varying reports of the actual length of the track such as 7km, 9.6km or even 11km. It actually took us about 3 hours and 15 minutes though we took our time. In any case, the track was wide and had a gentle grade, and we could probably thank the old tramway for such benign hiking conditions. Indeed, even though the hike was long, it didn't feel like a taxing bushwhack or undulating obstacle course. All throughout the walk, there were interpretive signs to help us better appreciate what we were seeing and experiencing. That said, the wide track also accommodated mountain bikes and even 4wd vehicles (as evidenced by tyre tracks in the muddier spots)! Fortunately, we didn't really encounter bikers or 4wd vehicles during our hike so the experience remained peaceful.

Most of the long hike was shaded within the forest cover, which was very welcome considering that the day we visited was a fairly warm sunny day. The length of the walk allowed the subtleties of the forest sounds and rhythms sink into us. We even saw a snake go across the track in front of us as it hastily slithered away from us and into the bush. Towards the latter part of the hike, we started to notice abandoned mine shafts though we didn't bother going inside them (we're not even sure if you could even go in them or if they were blocked off in the darkness).

When we finally made it to the waterfall itself, the track ended right at its base where we could get a neck-cranking view up at the tall column of water before us. We were also able to cross a harrowing suspension bridge spanning the tall gorge right before the falls for a totally different (butterflies-in-the-stomach-inducing) perspective. Beyond this suspension bridge, it looked like the track kept going though we didn't proceed any further to find out where it went.

When we returned to the car park, we were actually recharged and continued the long drive from Burnie towards Queenstown and Strahan. Indeed, this hike was the perfect way to break up that drive, and it seemed like the drought that had affected other parts of the country didn't seem to have really hit the western side of Tasmania as hard. Thus, we saw a Montezuma Falls that was flowing fairly well.

Directions: The main throughfare of Western Tasmania (and Montezuma Falls) was the Murchison-Zeehan Hwy (A10) between Queenstown and Burnie. We actually connected with the A10 from Cradle Valley so we can describe our approach from there.

From the Cradle Valley Rd, we turned left onto the C132 and drove for about 26km to the Murchison Hwy (A10). We then turned left to go south on the highway and continued for about 40km to the town of Rosebery. Inside the town, we left the A10 and turned left onto Williamsford Rd. We followed the unsealed Williamsford Rd for just under 6km to the car park that apparently was the former site of the town of Williamsford. We had to watch out for a few deep potholes on Williamsford Rd.

Going in the other direction from Queenstown, it was about 50km north along the Zeehan Hwy (A10) towards the town of Rosebery. The unsealed Williamsford Rd would be on the right.




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Julie checking out Montezuma Falls from the pretty scary suspension bridge spanning the tall gorge right in front of the falls
We started our Montezuma Falls visit by driving for about an hour and 15 minutes from Cradle Valley (featuring Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain) where we had spent the night
The destination of our long drive (with Montezuma Falls along the way) was the mining town of Queenstown, which also featured this attractive waterfall on its eastern outskirts
Trailhead sign telling us what would be required to visit Montezuma FallsTrailhead sign telling us what would be required to visit the falls

There was a nice little picnic area by the car park for Montezuma Falls TrackThere was a nice little picnic area by the car park for the falls track

Continuing to follow the signs to embark on the Montezuma Falls hikeContinuing to follow the signs to embark on the falls hike

Julie on the wide track to Montezuma FallsJulie on the wide track to the falls

We saw this little snake along the trail somewhere near the half-way pointWe saw this little snake along the trail somewhere near the half-way point

Even though it was warm and sunny during our visit, the Montezuma Falls Track was still flanked by ferns suggesting that this would ordinarily be an area of high rainfallEven though it was warm and sunny during our visit, the falls track was still flanked by ferns suggesting that this would ordinarily be an area of high rainfall

Julie continuing to march ahead on the wide Montezuma Falls TrackJulie continuing to march ahead on the wide track

At this point, the Montezuma Falls track narrowed even more so no motorized vehicles could continueAt this point, the track narrowed even more so no motorized vehicles could continue

Some abandoned mine besides the trailSome abandoned mine besides the trail

We were joined by another bushwalker who caught up to us and wanted to get a closer look at Montezuma FallsWe were joined by another bushwalker who caught up to us and wanted to get a closer look at Montezuma Falls

Looking across the scary suspension bridge fronting Montezuma FallsLooking across the scary suspension bridge fronting Montezuma Falls

The suspension bridge was barely wide enough to accommodate the width of both of Julie's feetThe suspension bridge was barely wide enough to accommodate the width of both of Julie's feet


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS

Sweep of the falls to the suspension bridge. The camera couldn't seem to focus since the dropoff was so far down from the bridge.


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MAP OF THE FALLS

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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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NEARBY WATERFALLS


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