Horsetail Falls ("Queenstown Falls")

West Coast Council / Gormanston / near Queenstown, Tasmania, Australia

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 1.5
Horsetail Falls ('Queenstown Falls')

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Before locals had informed me that this waterfall was actually called Horsetail Falls, I made up the name "Queenstown Falls" to refer to this very attractive waterfall that we stumbled upon when we were driving along the Lyell Highway east of Queenstown. With the way the falls ostensibly revealed itself to us during our first trip to Tasmania back in late November 2006, there was no way we could ignore it. During that visit, we weren't aware of a track to bring us safely closer to the waterfall so we had to look for a suitable place to pull over along the narrow and winding highway. The photo you see above was from such a spot though we were looking against the morning sun as the falls faced west so this was more of an afternoon waterfall.

When we made our return trip in late November 2017, we were surprised to see trailhead signage for Horsetail Falls in the clearing at the pass by the Iron Blow Open Cut memorial. It turned out that recently, a new track was created that was about 1km long taking roughly 30 minutes round trip. It might have followed an old track that we suspected would have gone closer to the falls though we weren't sure during that first visit (as we were already content with our roadside view back then).

The well-developed track immediately started climbing up a dusty dirt track before reaching a metal track that overlooked the Lyell Highway as it skirted around a steep mountainside. At about 300m from the car park, the track made a bend and started to overlook the Moore Creek drainage opposite Horsetail Falls. Shortly after that bend, we got perhaps the best views of Horsetail Falls even though the track kept climbing up steps past this point. When I got all the way to the end of the sanctioned track, the views of the falls wasn't as good though I was able to see it in context with the rest of Moore Creek further downstream.

It turned out that Horsetail Falls tended to have wildly varying flow. The picture you see at the top of this page took place the morning after a persistent overnight rain storm back in November 2006. On a subsequent visit 11 years later, we showed up on a very hot day (well over 30C; meaning this unshaded hike was also very hot) a few days removed from some rain storms, and the falls was much thinner and less impressive than that first visit. This variability in flow was a result of Moore Creek having a very limited drainage near the peak of Mt Owen. So based on our experiences, seeing this waterfall perform well would have to occur almost immediately after a significant rain storm or more.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Queenstown was where we based ourselves each time we visited Horsetail Falls as well as other nearby waterfallsQueenstown was where we based ourselves each time we visited Horsetail Falls as well as other nearby waterfalls
Roughly 40km west of Queenstown was the quaint town of Strahan, where Julie and I had fresh oysters as well as a pleasant stroll to Hogarth FallsRoughly 40km west of Queenstown was the quaint town of Strahan, where Julie and I had fresh oysters as well as a pleasant stroll to Hogarth Falls
Nelson Falls is about 23km east of Horsetail Falls (or 'Queenstown Falls' before I knew its real name)Nelson Falls is about 23km east of Horsetail Falls (or 'Queenstown Falls' before I knew its real name)
Queenstown was over 90 minutes drive from Cradle Mountain, where the reserve acted like a sanctuary allowing frequent wildlife sights, especially wombats and echidnas (shown here)Queenstown was over 90 minutes drive from Cradle Mountain, where the reserve acted like a sanctuary allowing frequent wildlife sights, especially wombats and echidnas (shown here)
The wide open car park for Horsetail FallsThe wide open car park for Horsetail Falls

Some plaque near the Iron Blow Open Cut sign commemorating someone relevant to this areaSome plaque near the Iron Blow Open Cut sign commemorating someone relevant to this area

Julie starting on the hot and unshaded track to Horsetail FallsJulie starting on the hot and unshaded track to Horsetail Falls

Julie approaching the part where the track started to transition from gravel to metalJulie approaching the part where the track started to transition from gravel to metal

Looking down towards the Moore Creek Drainage and the Lyell Highway from the Horsetail Falls TrackLooking down towards the Moore Creek Drainage and the Lyell Highway from the Horsetail Falls Track

Continuing along the Horsetail Falls Track before it started to bendContinuing along the Horsetail Falls Track before it started to bend

Context of Julie checking out Horsetail Falls from perhaps the best viewpointContext of Julie checking out Horsetail Falls from perhaps the best viewpoint

Broad view of Horsetail Falls beneath what I think was Mt OwenBroad view of Horsetail Falls beneath what I think was Mt Owen

Zoomed in look at Horsetail Falls showing that there was some water on Moore CreekZoomed in look at Horsetail Falls showing that there was some water on Moore Creek

The Horsetail Falls Track kept climbing beyond the best viewing spotsThe Horsetail Falls Track kept climbing beyond the best viewing spots

This was the view of Horsetail Falls from the end of the sanctioned trackThis was the view of Horsetail Falls from the end of the sanctioned track

Looking back at the track towards the Lyell Highway and the denuded mountains surrounding QueenstownLooking back at the track towards the Lyell Highway and the denuded mountains surrounding Queenstown

As I was heading back to the car park, I had to pay attention to the yellow lines and watch my step to avoid a stumble and fallAs I was heading back to the car park, I had to pay attention to the yellow lines and watch my step to avoid a stumble and fall

Returning to the car parkReturning to the car park

On our first visit, we managed to get a contextual view of Horsetail Falls from the Lyell HighwayOn our first visit, we managed to get a contextual view of Horsetail Falls from the Lyell Highway

A fully zoomed in look at Horsetail Falls in good flowA fully zoomed in look at the falls in good flow


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Semicircular sweep from right to left then following along the path of the waterfall and creek before zooming back out and ending up on the waterfall itself again


Semicircular right to left sweep from the very end of the boardwalk showing the perspective you'd get of the falls from there


Fixated on the falls with Triple J radio blaring from the car stereo in the background (this was taken on our first visit back in late November 2006 when the falls was flowing well)


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Getting to Horsetail Falls (or "Queenstown Falls" as we used to call it) was pretty straight forward as it was right off the Lyell Highway (A10). The roadside view that we attained was roughly 4.2km east of the Driffield Street turnoff near the centre of Queenstown (or about 700m east of the Queenstown overlook). It was another 400m (or 4.6km from town) to the car park at the Iron Blow Open Cut memorial.

The trailhead was about 22km west of the car park for Nelson Falls.

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.




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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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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Horse Tail Falls near Queenstown 
It is called Horse Tail Falls , as it looks like a horse tail whenever flowing. As we rarely get 4 days without rain, it flows every week. It takes less …

Horsetail Falls 
The locals actually call this fall Horsetail Falls , not sure why. It is indeed seasonal. My partner and I have driven past this fall a number of times, …

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