Waratah Falls was the feature waterfall in the town of Waratah, which was built right above its brink in an area said to have one of the wettest and coldest climates in Tasmania. So perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising to Julie and I that we saw the waterfall flowing as well as it did on both of our visits - once in late November 2006 and then in early December 2017. During our visits, we also saw a relic of the Dudley Kenworthy waterwheel just upstream from the waterfall. From an interpretive sign, we read that this was the site of first industrial use of hydroelectric power in Australia in 1883, which followed after the town was renamed from Mount Bischoff to Waratah. Power from the Waratah River was used to free up tin ore from its host rock while also incidentally providing street and building lighting in town.
We managed to experience the waterfall in two different ways. The first and easiest way was from an overlook on Main Street west of the Waratah River, where we got the view you see pictured above. From this vantage point, we were able to have a sweeping view of the waterfall plunging over a basalt face with blooming wildflowers lining the foreground and the town perched atop the cliffs in the background. We also noticed that there was what appeared to be a track that descended to the bottom of the falls on the opposite cliff across the river.
That led us to the second way we experienced Waratah Falls, which was by accessing the base of the waterfall after driving about 600m to the park by Annie Street then doing about a 400m walk. Along the track, I took the signed spur path to the left after 130m or so (going away from what appeared to be some kind of power substation behind fencing further on), then the gravel track descended amongst wildflowers and shrubs (some were carrying berries) before arriving at the rocky and misty bottom of the falls. Keeping to the hydroelectric theme, I noticed a floodlight pole pointed right at the waterfall so I'd imagine that it would be floodlit at night.
After having my fill of the bottom of Waratah Falls, I then walked back up to the parked car. During the ascent, I noticed a denuded mountain back across the river further downstream, which I'd imagine was Mt Bischoff and ultimately the Mt Bischoff mine. When I got back to the car, I had only spent about 20 minutes away from it.
This was the Dudley Kenworthy Wheel, which was the main mechanism for converting water power to electricity (illuminating the town of Mt Bischoff (Waratah) before more advanced means came along
Less than an hour's drive from Waratah was the Cradle Valley section of Cradle Mountain National Park, where we managed to view the namesake mountain from across Dove Lake
In addition to scenery at Cradle Mountain, we were also inundated with wombat sightings as this area was a haven for seeing wildlife like this given its relatively undisturbed habitat
Cradle Valley was also worthwhile to us for a visit because we got to visit the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary to see these guys up close
Context of the gazeebo and the lookout for the falls
This was the same nice spot on our first visit back in late November 2006. Notice the interpretive sign was not there back then
Focused on the full context of the falls surrounded by flowers in bloom with the Waratah town further upstream. Notice the track on the left side of this photo, which gave us the idea that we could hike to the waterfall's bottom
This was the same view as seen on a nice sunny afternoon in late November 2006
Zoomed in look at the impressive falls
It turned out that these funky flowers were waratahs, which this town was named after. These are endemic to Australia
Looking upstream from the falls towards a bridge. It was said that this was a platypus viewing area
Looking back at Philosopher Smith's Hut. The resident was James "The Philosopher" Smith who was credited with the discovery of tin at Mt Bischoff in 1871
Starting on the walk to the bottom of the falls from Annie St
As I walked to the bottom of the falls, I noticed a denuded mountain up ahead, which I believe was Mt Bischoff
On the descending gravel track going below the town
Starting to see the falls on the descent
Making it to the bottom of Waratah Falls with a floodlight pointed right at it
Directly in front of the falls at its base
Starting the hike back up to the town of Waratah
As I was hiking back up, I noticed some berries growing alongside the track
We got to town from Cradle Mountain by driving north on Cradle Mountain Rd to the Belvoir Rd (C132). Turning left onto Belvoir Rd (C132), we then drove about 26km to the Murchison Hwy (A10). Turning right onto Murchison Hwy (A10), we then drove north for a little over 16km to the Waratah Rd (B18) turnoff on the left (note that the B18 turnoff on the right led to Ridgley and Burnie). After about 7km on Waratah Rd (B18), we entered the town of Waratah.
Once in the centre of town, we then left the B18 to continue going straight on Smith St for about 200m, where it intersected with Annie St. For the option to walk to the base of Waratah Falls, we turned right on Annie St and found parking along the road next to the grassy area.
For the option to view the waterfall the lookout, we continued driving on Smith St, which then became Main St after another 150m. Keeping right at the intersections, we remained on Main St for another 250m before finding street parking near a park with a gazeebo facing the Waratah Falls.
Overall, this 54km drive took us about 40 minutes. If we had followed the B18 from Burnie in the opposite direction (from the north), it would have been a 62km drive taking under an hour.
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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