Guide Falls

City of Burnie / Ridgley, Tasmania, Australia

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 1
Guide Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Guide Falls was one of the more satisfying waterfalls that we encountered in Tasmania. Not only was this an easy waterfall on the eyes with its wide block shape as the Guide River fell around 25m (probably closer to 35m counting the upper drop) over an imposing basalt face, but it was also very easy to experience. That ease of viewing came in handy when we visited this waterfall in early December 2017 when the same storm system that had been pummeling Victoria was also raining buckets in northwestern Tassie. And yet, we were still able to have a successful visit seeing the falls from its top as well as from its bottom. When we first came to this waterfall back in late November 2006 under much drier conditions, the falls had significantly lower flow. Nevertheless, it was still easy on the eyes with its segmented characteristic while even producing a faint rainbow in its mist.

Each time Julie and I had visited Guide Falls, we started from the upper car park (see directions below). From there, it was a short 50m walk to a pair of lookouts right at the top of the waterfall. The lookout on the far left side peered right down over the main drop into the knife-like head of the gorge with the upper drop also tumbling in profile from immediately upstream. With the rain coming down hard, the downward viewing angle allowed the umbrella and the lens hood to minimize the amount of rain punishing the DSLR camera.

As we then walked over to the other lookout, we managed to get the familiar and very pleasing frontal view of the two-tiered block waterfall. Again, with the downward viewing angle, we were still able to successfully capture the experience despite the heavy rain. This was where the photo you see at the top of this page was taken from. Anyways, after having our fill of the falls from this spot, we then walked roughly 80m down some steep set of steps to the banks of the Guide River. Then, we were able to walk along the riverbank upstream (being careful due to the slippery footing) to get up to the imposing wall of water from the main drop while also getting a better appreciation of the columnar basalt texture of the cliffs that gave rise to the Guide Falls.

Once we had our fill of this spot, we then headed back up to complete the excursion. Of course, we also could have done this excursion to or from the lower car park, which would involve hiking all along the Guide River over a 320m track. Further downstream of the steps connecting with the upper car park, there was at least one intermediate waterfall as well as some wildflowers in bloom that we checked out. Since there was a picnic area and toilet facility at the lower car park, I'd imagine that approach would be the more popular way to go.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Guide Falls as seen from its base surrounded by dark columnar cliffs of basaltGuide Falls as seen from its base surrounded by dark columnar cliffs of basalt
The beach along the esplanade of Burnie was a surprising place to see penguins if you happen to be here early in the morning.  The coastal city was less than a half-hour drive from Guide FallsThe beach along the esplanade of Burnie was a surprising place to see penguins if you happen to be here early in the morning. The coastal city was less than a half-hour drive from Guide Falls
Prior to going to Guide Falls, we had stayed at Cradle Mountain, which was a haven for seeing wildlife like wombats, echidnas, birds, platypus, and even this wallaby and joeyPrior to going to Guide Falls, we had stayed at Cradle Mountain, which was a haven for seeing wildlife like wombats, echidnas, birds, platypus, and even this wallaby and joey
Embarking on the short walk to Guide FallsEmbarking on the short walk to Guide Falls

Me approaching the overlook of Guide Falls from our first visit back in late November 2006Me approaching the overlook of the falls from our first visit back in late November 2006

Our first look at Guide Falls from our December 2017 visitOur first look at the falls from our December 2017 visit

Looking directly at the top two tiers of Guide Falls from the overlook from our first visit in late November 2006Looking directly at the top two tiers of the falls from the overlook from our first visit in late November 2006

During that first visit the timing was good enough to produce a small rainbow despite the low flowDuring that first visit the timing was good enough to produce a small rainbow despite the low flow

Checking out the profile of the two tiers comprising the main part of Guide FallsChecking out the profile of the two tiers comprising the main part of the falls

This was the profile view of Guide Falls from back in late November 2006 on a sunny afternoon in low flowThis was the profile view of the falls from back in late November 2006 on a sunny afternoon in low flow

Looking down across the main lower drop of Guide Falls peering right into the knife-like gorgeLooking down across the main lower drop of Guide Falls peering right into the knife-like gorge

Looking down at the profile of the main tier of Guide Falls on our first visit in late Novemer 2006Looking down at the profile of the main tier of the falls on our first visit in late November 2006

After having our fill of the upper overlooks, we then followed the fencing on a track leading to the bottom of Guide FallsAfter having our fill of the upper overlooks, we then followed the fencing on a track leading to the bottom of the falls

Going down these steps to get to the level of the Guide RiverGoing down these steps to get to the level of the Guide River

Approaching the end of the descent to the Guide RiverApproaching the end of the descent to the Guide River

Heading upstream along the banks of the Guide River as I was approaching the bottom of Guide FallsHeading upstream along the banks of the Guide River as I was approaching the bottom of the falls

Looking up at Guide Falls from along the Guide River with some yellow wildflowers in bloom in the foreground as seen from back in late November 2006Looking up at the falls from along the Guide River with some yellow wildflowers in bloom in the foreground as seen from back in late November 2006

Julie checking out Guide Falls from within the gorge in the afternoon during our first visit in late November 2006Julie checking out the falls from within the gorge in the afternoon during our first visit in late November 2006

Looking downstream along the Guide River from the base of Guide FallsLooking downstream along the Guide River from the base of the falls

Exploring a little further along the track skirting the Guide River towards the lower car parkExploring a little further along the track skirting the Guide River towards the lower car park

Looking towards an intermediate waterfall downstream of the Guide FallsLooking towards an intermediate waterfall downstream of the main falls

This was the same intermediate waterfall seen from that late November 2006 visitThis was the same intermediate waterfall seen from that late November 2006

Walking back up the steps to the upper car parkWalking back up the steps to the upper car park

Almost back up at the top of the stepsAlmost back up at the top of the steps

One of a handful of picnic tables near the upper lookout for Guide Falls illustrating that this was also a nice place for a picnicOne of a handful of picnic tables near the upper lookout for the falls illustrating that this was also a nice place for a picnic

This was the walk along the Guide River from the lower car park up to the Guide FallsThis was the walk along the Guide River from the lower car park up to the Guide Falls


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Long video showing the brink of the falls before walking over to the next lookout for a more direct (albeit angled) view


Sweep starting with a downstream cascade before approaching the falls bottom itself


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We visited Guide Falls from a couple of different routes, which I'll explain in this section - the first one from Burnie, the second one from Cradle Mountain.

From the Bass Highway (Hwy 1) and Mount Street (B18) intersection at the southern end of the Burnie CBD, we drove south on Mount St / Ridgley Highway (B18) for just under 14km to the turnoff for the West Ridgley Road (C104) on our right. This turnoff was just south of the main part of Ridgley. Then, we drove about 2.3km on the West Ridgley Rd to the signed turnoff on our left (just before the bridge over the Guide River; not following the sign for the Alpaca Farm as that wasn't the purpose of this visit).

After leaving the West Ridgley Road (C104), the Guide Falls Lower Car Park was about 200m further down the access road on our right. However, we continued driving up the hill another 400m to the upper car park, where there was also room to park and even have a picnic under better weather conditions.

Overall, this 17km drive took us about 25 minutes.

From Cradle Mountain, we took the Cradle Mountain Rd north to Belvoir Rd (C132), then turned left and followed Belvoir Rd (C132) for about 26km to the Murchison Hwy (A10). We then turned right onto the Murchison Hwy (A10) and drove for about 16.5km before leaving the A10 and keeping right to go onto the Ridgley Hwy (B23). After about 40km on the Ridgley Hwy (B23), we then followed the sign to turn left onto West Ridgley Rd (C104; right before the town of Ridgley). Then, we followed the directions as above to the Guide Falls car parks.

Overall, this drive took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

To provide you with some geographical context, Cradle Mountain was about 111km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Queenstown, 101km (about 75 minutes drive) south of Burnie, 78km (about 75 minutes drive) southwest of Devonport, 93km (about 90 minutes drive) west of Deloraine, 157km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Launceston, and 319km (4 hours drive) northwest of Hobart.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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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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Guide Falls 
Guide Falls is a small, amphitheatre - style waterfall, with a small tier at the top and then the largest falls drops into the naturally formed amphitheatre …

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