About Guide Falls
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.
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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