Preston Falls was an attractive waterfall where the Preston Creek plunged some 25m into a deep gorge. For a waterfall of this size, it was also one of the easiest waterfalls to visit. Julie and I only had to go on a short 120m track amongst blackwood forest towards an overlook yielding the view you see at the top of this page. That excursion took us less than half-hour away from the car on each of our visits. While the short walk made us consider whether there was a way to get a more intimate experience by getting to the bottom of the falls, to our knowledge, there was no safe or sanctioned way of doing so as the signage and fencing set up all around the cliffs had suggested.
Situated near the idyllic Gunns Plains not far inland from Ulverstone, we came here as part of a short detour when we were either driving along the Bass Highway between Burnie and Launceston or heading further inland towards Cradle Mountain from one of the other coastal towns in between like Devonport. Either way, it provided us with an opportunity to stretch our legs, get some fresh air, experience rural Tassie, and get good vibes from a waterfall to boot! In either of our visits, we could have extended the visit to check out other attractions like the Gunns Plains Caves, but we had passed on them.
The first time Julie and I came here in late November 2006, it seemed like everything about that visit pointed to bad timing on our part in every which way. Not only did Preston Creek have low flow (we weren't sure if it was drought-related or just downstream of a small watershed), but our mid-morning visit on a sunny day resulted in terrible shadows. The shadows were such that we essentially were only able to see and photograph half the falls as the light and dark zones were split right through the middle of its drop. Based on this experience, this north-northeast-facing waterfall was best seen when the sun would be high up on the horizon to minimize the shadows (e.g. late morning or midday). Either that or it would best be experienced early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the shadows would be long enough to have uniform lighting around the waterfall.
The second time Julie and I came here in early December 2017, it was in between fronts of a powerful storm. It was the same system that caused flash flooding across the Bass Strait in Victoria, and it created some heavy rainfall prior to our visit and not much longer afterwards as another wave of dark clouds were rolling in. Nonetheless, given the cloudy skies, it really didn't matter what time of day we came here. It definitely helped that the rains had replenished Preston Creek, which certainly improved our experience a lot since that ill-timed first visit.
Finally, there was some controversy in the literature (even back in 2006) regarding the waterfall's name. It was claimed that this waterfall should have been called Delaneys Falls or at least the Lower Preston Falls, and that the actual Preston Falls was somewhere further upstream (which was said to be less well-known and less accessible). We had never visited that other waterfall, and on both of our visits, we encountered signage that still referred to this place as Preston Falls. Therefore, we've gone with that convention and won't say anything more about the naming mix-up.
Prior to our first visit to Preston Falls, we had stayed in the port town of Devonport which was one end of the Spirit of Tasmania's Bass Straight Crossing with Melbourne on the mainland
We had driven to Preston Falls for our second visit after having lunch in Burnie, which had an attractive esplanade where penguins typically would come by early in the morning
After our first visit to Preston Falls, we also drove towards Cradle Mountain to experience the stunning landscape and the surprising wildlife
The car park and sign for the falls from our first visit back in late November 2006
This wooden sign was there on our first visit back in late November 2006. It was still known as Preston Falls back then. Now, the wooden sign was gone, but a more modern one was in its place and still had the same name (in December 2017)
The track initially descended from the parking bay down these steps
Julie amongst the blackwoods on the track as railings kept us away from the dropoffs to the left
Julie approaching a bridge crossing the Preston Creek
The bridge over Preston Creek just upstream from the falls
This was the view over the top of the falls from the bridge
This was the improved view over Preston Falls in early December 2017 from the lookout at the end of the track
On our first visit back in late November 2006, we tried to figure out how best to take photos while reconciling the terrible morning shadow
A broader look at the falls from our second visit in early December 2017
Another look at our Preston Falls experience back in late November 2006 in mid-morning when the sun also casted terrible shadows in addition to the low flow
Looking downstream from the lookout at the end of the track as another dark band of clouds from an incoming front seemed to be headed our way
Since we visited Preston Falls as a detour from the Bass Highway (Hwy 1), we'll describe such a route from either Burnie or Devonport. The key town to get off the Bass Highway was near the town of Ulverstone.
From Burnie, we drove east on the Bass Highway (Hwy 1) for about 27km to the B17 exit for Ulverstone, Gunns Plains, and Leven Canyon. At the end of the off-ramp, we then turned right onto Lovett St (B17). We then followed the B17 as Lovett St became Preston Rd, and after about 10km, the Preston Rd then reached a fork. The left fork left the B17 for the C125 but remained Preston Rd. The right fork remained on the B17 but became the Gunns Plains Rd. Both ways lead to Preston Falls.
Supposing we kept left to go on the Gunns Plains Rd (B17), we'd then drive about 9km to the town of Gunns Plains. Then, we'd turn left onto Raymond Rd (C127) and follow it for about 4.5km to the parking bay for Preston Falls on the left.
Supposing we kept right to remain on Preston Rd (C125), we'd then drive a little over 9km to the signed turnoff for "Waterfalls" on Raymond Rd to our left. This turnoff was a little over a kilometre past the town of Preston. Once on Raymond Rd, we'd then drive roughly 600m to the parking bay for Preston Falls on our right.
Overall, the drive from Burnie took us about 45 minutes.
Note that if we had come from Devonport, we would have driven on the Bass Highway (Hwy 1) west for a little over 18km before taking the same B17 exit as before (Ulverstone, Gunns Plains, and Leven Canyon). Then, we'd follow the same driving directions as before starting along Lovett St (B17).
To provide you with some geographical context, Burnie was about 101km (under 90 minutes drive) north of Cradle Mountain, 46km (over 30 minutes drive) west of Devonport, 99km (over an hour drive) northwest of Deloraine, and 147km (over 90 minutes drive) west of Launceston.
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