Nelson Falls

Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park / West Coast Council / near Queenstown, Tasmania, Australia

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 1.5
Nelson Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Nelson Falls was a gorgeous 30m high wall of water shaped like an inverted wine glass. Julie and I were very pleasantly surprised to see this waterfall pumping the way it did on our first visit, and perhaps it might have had to do with the rain we received the previous night while we were staying in Queenstown (some 27km to the west). In addition to the waterfall itself, the short walk took us through a temperate rainforest that was probably amidst the healthiest ecosystem we had encountered in both of our visits to this part of Tasmania. Not only were the ferns and mossy trees dripping with dew and displaying a vibrant green, but the flow of the Nelson River was also vigorous. Indeed, when the river was as voluminous as you see in the photo above, we were getting sprayed at the lookouts, which was something we couldn't say about any other waterfall during our trips to Southeastern Australia in 2006 and later in 2017.

Even though the signs said it was merely a 700m 20-minute return walk to take in Nelson Falls, Julie and I spent about 40-45 minutes in both of our visits here. The track was flat pretty much the whole way with boardwalks set up in the most sensitive spots while meandering alongside the Nelson River. In sunny and warm weather (like on our second visit), there was ample forest cover to prevent the harsh sun from beating down on us. Overall, it was a relaxing stroll and one that rejuvenated us while breaking up the long drive between Queenstown and Hobart.

The interpretive signs along the track had us imagine we were in a time machine. By playing this mind game, we learned that this part of Tasmania was once under water, then later under ice, and then split up into neighbouring forests that would tectonically drift as far as New Zealand and even South America. Indeed, the species of fern that were along the walking track also happened to occur in those distant places attesting to the existence of the former Gondwanaland supercontinent. In fact, the primal and wild feel of the rainforest here was aided by its inclusion in the undeveloped Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, which was part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area seeking to protect these ancient tracts of land. This reserve (dominating much of the western and southern parts of the state) was one of the largest contiguous tracts of undeveloped wilderness left in Tasmania.

Although the legislative protections helped to maintain the health of this area since the 1980s, we could see that prior efforts to find mineral riches as well as a way to traverse the boggy and rugged wilderness took its toll on the landscape as well as on the people looking for opportunities to earn wealth. In the 30+ years since the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was established, we found ourselves in a far different place than what the old photos from the signs at the trailhead had shown as Nature quickly took back what had been undisturbed well before the advent of European settlement. Perhaps the enduring legacy of the human activity of the past was the current Lyell Highway. That road linking Queenstown and Hobart pretty much followed the Linda Track, which opened up exploration (and exploitation) to the west between the two towns.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

Julie checking out the impressive wall of water before her from one of the lookouts closer to the misty Nelson Falls. It didn't seem like that lookout was available on our second visit in 2017Julie checking out the impressive wall of water before her from one of the lookouts closer to the misty Nelson Falls. It didn't seem like that lookout was available on our second visit in 2017
Queenstown was the nearest town to Nelson Falls, but we were treated to this panorama of the mining town and its surrounded mountains along the Lyell Highway east of townQueenstown was the nearest town to Nelson Falls, but we were treated to this panorama of the mining town and its surrounded mountains along the Lyell Highway east of town
Nelson Falls was west of the Lake St Clair area, which was the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Shown here was Cradle Mountain on the north end of that reserveNelson Falls was west of the Lake St Clair area, which was the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Shown here was Cradle Mountain on the north end of that reserve
Along the Lyell Highway en route to Nelson Falls from Queenstown, we stumbled upon Horsetail Falls beneath Mt Owen. It just happened to flow well when we first saw it in late November 2006Along the Lyell Highway en route to Nelson Falls from Queenstown, we stumbled upon Horsetail Falls beneath Mt Owen. It just happened to flow well when we first saw it in late November 2006
The Nelson Falls car park, which was right next to the Lyell HighwayThe car park, which was right next to the Lyell Highway

Looking along the Nelson River from near the start of the short trackLooking along the Nelson River from near the start of the short track

Julie on the well-shaded, well-developoed, and flat track to Nelson FallsJulie on the well-shaded, well-developed, and flat track to the falls

The well-developed walking path through the rainforest towards Nelson Falls as seen in our first visit back in November 2006The well-developed walking path through the rainforest towards the falls as seen on our first visit back in November 2006

Julie continuing on the well-shaded gentle stroll through the temperate rainforest to Nelson FallsJulie continuing on the well-shaded gentle stroll through the temperate rainforest to the falls

There was one part of the short walk where the track branched from each other then rejoined later on.  Julie took the left part of that branchThere was one part of the short walk where the track branched from each other than rejoined later on. Julie took the left part of that branch

Julie hiking beneath some of the larger ferns growing around the Nelson Falls TrackJulie hiking beneath some of the larger ferns growing around the track

Finally approaching the end of the track with Nelson Falls in viewFinally approaching the end of the track with Nelson Falls in view

Nelson Falls looking segmented on our second visit in late November 2017Nelson Falls looking segmented on our second visit in late November 2017

Due to the high volume on our first visit in late November 2006, in order to get the long exposure photographs, I had to retreat towards one of the more distant lookouts to get a shot of Nelson Falls like thisDue to the high volume on our first visit in late November 2006, in order to get the long exposure photographs, I had to retreat towards one of the more distant lookouts to get a shot of Nelson Falls like this

This was Nelson Falls from the closest lookout platform on our first visit, but it was so misty here that long exposure photos just weren't feasible. Turned out that on our second visit, this nearest lookout was no longer sanctionedThis was Nelson Falls from the closest lookout platform on our first visit, but it was so misty here that long exposure photos just weren't feasible. Turned out that on our second visit, this nearest lookout was no longer sanctioned

Julie heading back to the car park after having her fill of Nelson FallsJulie heading back to the car park after having her fill of the falls

Back at the Nelson Falls car parkBack at the car park


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Right to left sweep from downstream to upstream before examining the falls


Fixated on the falls when we first saw in full flow back in late November 2006


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Getting to this waterfall was pretty straight forward as it was right off the Lyell Highway (A10) 27km (30 minutes drive) east of Queenstown and 233km (about 3.5 hours drive) west of Hobart. The car park was well signposted on the north side of the highway.

Since Nelson Falls was in national park land, park fees applied through the self-help payment kiosks at the car park. That said, we had paid for the eight-week/eight-person pass (back at the Mt Field Visitor Centre or at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre) which at first glance might have been overkill for Julie and I, but it was good for all national parks in the state (including the three that we visited at Cradle Mountain, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers, and Mt Field). Therefore, we wound up saving a few bucks over the pay-as-you-go method.

For some geographical context, Queenstown was 42km (about 45 minutes drive) east of Strahan, 91km (under 90 minutes drive) west of Lake St Clair, 110km (over 90 minutes drive) southwest of Cradle Mountain, and 260km (over 3.5 hours drive) northwest of Hobart.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

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




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

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




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Tasmania Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Australia Page]


[Return from Nelson Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]