Montezuma Falls

Zeehan / Rosebery, Tasmania, Australia

About Montezuma Falls


Hiking Distance: 10km round trip
Suggested Time: 3-3.5 hours

Date first visited: 2006-11-28
Date last visited: 2017-11-30

Waterfall Latitude: -41.83872
Waterfall Longitude: 145.47702

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Montezuma Falls had to have been one of the more impressive and memorable waterfalls that Julie and I had visited in Tasmania.

It was definitely up there as one of the best waterfalls we had seen in Australia.

Montezuma_Falls_17_133_11292017 - Montezuma Falls
Montezuma Falls

By its inclusion in our Top 10 Best Australia Waterfalls List, that should tell you how highly we thought of this attraction.

Indeed, the falls tumbled at a cumulative height of 104m making it one of the highest waterfalls in the island state.

In addition to the waterfall itself, we even managed to get quite the thrill from standing on a harrowing suspension bridge spanning the george well above Montezuma Creek (or Avon Creek) to view the falls.

Julie and I had also found this place to be tranquil and naturesque despite its history.

About the hike to Montezuma Falls

Montezuma_Falls_17_089_11292017 - Evidence of the old North East Dundas Tramway were definitely on display on the Montezuma Falls Track
Evidence of the old North East Dundas Tramway were definitely on display on the Montezuma Falls Track

Like with most things that were worthwhile, we had to earn our visit with a bit of a long walk.

The walking track followed the old North East Dundas Tramway route that used to run between Zeehan and the old site of Williamsford in the 1890s.

As a result of its past as a place to extract resources, the trail also featured a mine shaft, railroad track remnants, recovering old growth rainforest, and some side waterfalls.

Although the excursion was said to take 3 hours round trip, Julie and I took around 3 hours and 15 minutes though some of that time was for picture-taking.

Montezuma_Falls_17_206_11292017 - Looking into an entrance of a mine shaft along the Montezuma Falls Track, which was another hint at this place's former mining history
Looking into an entrance of a mine shaft along the Montezuma Falls Track, which was another hint at this place’s former mining history

According to my GPS logs, the track was around 9.6km to 10km long.

That said, despite the track’s length, the entire walk was flat (as well as mostly shaded) as most of the trailblazing work was already done with the construction of the tramway.

Montezuma Falls Trail Description – hiking the old North East Dundas Tramway

From the fairly spacious car park and picnic area (see directions below), we immediately went past a trailhead sign and walked past a pit toilet shed.

Then, the track went past an unsigned fork and veered left before descending towards a bridge over Baker Creek.

Montezuma_Falls_17_005_11292017 - A small outhouse at the start of the Montezuma Falls Track
A small outhouse at the start of the Montezuma Falls Track

Shortly after crossing the bridge, there was another fork where the path on the left briefly ascended to a wider track that I believed we could be sharing with 4wd vehicles.

The other fork zig-zagged up a couple of switchbacks before getting to the same wider track.

There was a separate track leaving the car park and would have joined the wider 4wd track after fording Baker Creek further upstream.

In any case, from this point forward for the next 3.9km, we would continue on this joint foot trail / 4wd track as it followed along the Ring River flowing audibly well below the track.

Montezuma_Falls_17_008_11292017 - Every once in a while, we saw splits in the Montezuma Falls Track like this, where the narrower path was for foot traffic while the wider path on the right was for 4wd traffic. These typically occurred at bridged creek crossings
Every once in a while, we saw splits in the Montezuma Falls Track like this, where the narrower path was for foot traffic while the wider path on the right was for 4wd traffic. These typically occurred at bridged creek crossings

After about another 150m, there was a sign talking about how there were about 60 bends for every two kilometres in distance along a line (or about 6km of tramway).

To the left of the track near this sign was a small side waterfall that was barely flowing behind the thick bush.

The track would continue to be flanked by ferns, tall trees, and some walls that might have been blasted to make way for the tramway.

I also noticed some tyre tracks barely fitting within the narrow walking track suggesting that it wasn’t that rare for offroad enthusiasts to be driving here.

Montezuma_Falls_17_031_11292017 - Tyre tracks hinting that 4wd offroad enthusiasts definitely drive on the Montezuma Falls Track
Tyre tracks hinting that 4wd offroad enthusiasts definitely drive on the Montezuma Falls Track

At about 1.2km from the small side waterfall (or roughly 1.6km from the trailhead), the track then passed another fork before going across a sturdy bridge crossing Bather Creek.

This sturdy bridge replaced an adjacent old bridge that was about to be rotted through.

Beyond this bridge, the track then veered to the right and continued alongside the Ring River.

During this stretch, the track went over more wide ledges, blasted corridors, remnants of railroad tracks, and bends before reaching a sign and cul-de-sac after another 2.5km from the old bridge.

Montezuma_Falls_17_099_11292017 - These wooden railroad planks on the ground that were remnants of the tramway that was once here were just past a sign indicating that no vehicles could proceed onto this part of the Montezuma Falls Track
These wooden railroad planks on the ground that were remnants of the tramway that was once here were just past a sign indicating that no vehicles could proceed onto this part of the Montezuma Falls Track

The signage here said only walkers could proceed further, and the cul-de-sac was to allow vehicles to park as well as made a three-point turn to get out.

Montezuma Falls Trail Description – hiking the final stretch to the waterfall

Along this walkers-only section, the wooden planks that once spanned the rails of the tramway were definitely more apparent and abundant.

After nearly 600m from the sign, I spotted another side waterfall on the left, where it was possible to get up to with a little scrambling amongst the bush.

Also nearby this spot, it appeared that the track started to follow Montezuma Creek instead of the Ring River.

Montezuma_Falls_17_103_11292017 - The much narrower section of the Montezuma Falls Track as it was getting close to the waterfall
The much narrower section of the Montezuma Falls Track as it was getting close to the waterfall

Roughly another 300m further, the track then passed right by a former mine shaft entrance, where the tunnel went deep enough to block out a fair bit of light before reaching a barricade.

Another 100m beyond the mine shaft entrance was a fork in the track where steps on the right fork led up to one side of the suspension bridge, which was once a 48m long trestle bridge.

The left fork continued to the foot of Montezuma Falls.

While on the suspension bridge, we had to be cognizant of the safe load limit of two adults or one adult and two children.

Montezuma_Falls_018_11272006 - Looking across the suspension bridge standing before the Montezuma Falls
Looking across the suspension bridge standing before the Montezuma Falls

It was precariously suspended high above the gorge with Montezuma Creek (or Avon Creek according to some maps) visibly far below.

From the middle of the bridge, we were able to get attractive views of the gorge downstream as well as a frontal view of the entirety of Montezuma Falls.

We just had to be very careful not to drop a phone or anything else that could fall through the openings in the bridge below.

On the other side of the bridge, it appeared that the rapid growth of the rainforest (aided by 3m of annual rainfall) obstructed the view of the falls as of our latest visit in late November 2017.

Montezuma_Falls_045_11272006 - Montezuma Falls with Julie looking on from the scary suspension bridge spanning the tall gorge.  I couldn't get this view when I came back 11 years after this shot was taken in November 2006 due to overgrowth
Montezuma Falls with Julie looking on from the scary suspension bridge spanning the tall gorge. I couldn’t get this view when I came back 11 years after this shot was taken in November 2006 due to overgrowth

On our first visit back in late November 2006, I was able to photograph Julie watching Montezuma Falls while she was standing in the middle of the bridge!

After having our fill of the suspension bridge, we went back to the fork and took the other path.

That was where the track ultimately terminated at the foot of Montezuma Falls’ giant drop.

There was a lookout deck (for a neck-cranking view) as well as an opportunity to do a little scrambling on fallen rocks to get close enough to the falls to feel its spray.

Montezuma_Falls_17_159_11292017 - Looking up at the majestic Montezuma Falls
Looking up at the majestic Montezuma Falls

Of course, those fallen rocks were also reminders of the hazards of getting too close to such a waterfall.

Lighting at Montezuma Falls

In any case, it was worth noting that since this was a northwest facing waterfall, the morning sun had the potential of being in a bad spot once it breached the towering cliffs here.

So if it was sunny, then early to mid afternoon would yield perhaps the most agreeable backlighting.

Otherwise, it’d have to be cloudy or shadowy enough where everything in the shade would have uniform lighting, including the waterfall.

Nomenclature of Montezuma Falls

Montezuma_Falls_17_207_11292017 - Looking out of the mine shaft by the Montezuma Falls Track
Looking out of the mine shaft by the Montezuma Falls Track

Finally regarding the name of Montezuma Falls, I often wondered how the name of the last Aztec emperor made its way to the West Coast of Tasmania.

Well, a sign along the track informed us that the name came from the Montezuma Mining Company, which used to mine for silver here in the 1890s (I think two of the signs there had a typo suggesting they were here in the 1980s).

It was said that during the mining heydey, much of the forest around the tramway had been cleared, but we hardly knew this was the case during our hike as the forest seemed to have recovered around the track nicely.

Prior to the Montezuma Mining Company owning leases in the area, the falls used to be referred to as Osbourne Falls.

Authorities

Montezuma Falls resides near Zeehan and Rosebery, Tasmania. It is administered by the West Coast Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Montezuma_Falls_17_003_11292017 - Signage and gate at the Montezuma Falls trailhead as seen during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_007_11292017 - On the bush track to Montezuma Falls as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_012_11292017 - Crossing the bridge over Baker Creek en route to the Montezuma Falls Track during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_013_11292017 - Sign marking the start of the shared track between 4wd vehicles and hikers en route to Montezuma Falls in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_015_11292017 - Following the well-graded and mostly flat Montezuma Falls Track, which pretty much followed the North East Dundas Tramway as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_018_11292017 - The wide Montezuma Falls Track was flanked by some tall and thin trees as well as ferns as seen during my visit in November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_019_11292017 - This bend in the Montezuma Falls Track appeared like it passed through a section that was blasted when the tramway was created as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_024_11292017 - The Montezuma Falls Track doing another one of its many bends as seen on my late November 2017 visit, said to occur at a rate of about 60 every 2 km on a straight line or 6km on the tramway
Montezuma_Falls_17_027_11292017 - This was a muddy spot along the Montezuma Falls Track as seen during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_034_11292017 - Another bend along the track to Montezuma Falls as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_037_11292017 - Another unsigned fork along the Montezuma Falls Track, where 4wd vehicles would be taking the descending fork to cross the next creek
Montezuma_Falls_17_043_11292017 - Crossing a new bridge paralleling an old rotted bridge over Bather Creek en route to Montezuma Falls during my hike in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_052_11292017 - Continuing on beyond Bather Creek on the Montezuma Falls Track in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_054_11292017 - When the sun came out, there was still ample shade along the Montezuma Falls Track during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_063_11292017 - Passing by more quickly growing thin trees that appeared to be revegetating areas that were once cleared to make way for the tramway en route to Montezuma Falls during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_070_11292017 - It looked like there was an ascending track on the left that climbed above the main Montezuma Falls Track as seen during my visit in late November 2017. I don't know where that other narrower track went (if it was indeed a real track or not)
Montezuma_Falls_17_071_11292017 - The Montezuma Falls Track continued passing by more large ferns as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_075_11292017 - The Montezuma Falls Track was flanked by even more ferns suggesting that this would ordinarily be an area of high rainfall (said to be 3m of annual precipitation). This was seen during my late November 2017 hike
Montezuma_Falls_17_082_11292017 - Closeup look at one of the ferns looking like something we had seen a lot of in New Zealand during my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_087_11292017 - Another look at a bend in the Montezuma Falls Track flanked by blasted walls during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_091_11292017 - The further along the Montezuma Falls Track I went on my late November 2017 visit, the more I was seeing these wooden planks on the ground, which were remnants of the railroad supporting the tramway
Montezuma_Falls_17_098_11292017 - Sign marking the end of the 4wd portion of the Montezuma Falls Track as seen during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_114_11292017 - This was a side waterfall that caught my attention somewhere between the walkers only sign and the abandoned mine shaft along the Montezuma Falls Track during my late November 2017 hike
Montezuma_Falls_17_115_11292017 - The Montezuma Falls Track was getting increasingly more lush the further I went in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_118_11292017 - This was the entrance to one of the abandoned mine shafts (though this was the only one we saw along the Montezuma Falls Track) as seen during my late November 2017 hike
Montezuma_Falls_17_124_11292017 - Not far beyond the mine shaft entrance were steps leading to one end of the suspension bridge fronting the Montezuma Falls during my late November 2017 hike
Montezuma_Falls_17_128_11292017 - Looking across the suspension bridge fronting Montezuma Falls during my hike in November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_136_11292017 - Broad view of Montezuma Falls as seen from the suspension bridge during my hike in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_142_11292017 - Portrait view of the full height of the Montezuma Falls as seen from the suspension bridge during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_144_11292017 - Partial view of Montezuma Falls from the other side of the suspension bridge, which was a lot more overgrown in November 2017 than when I recalled back in November 2006
Montezuma_Falls_17_146_11292017 - It was a long way down the suspension bridge so these instructions had better be heeded before Montezuma Falls
Montezuma_Falls_17_151_11292017 - Going back across the suspension bridge in front of Montezuma Falls during my November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_198_11292017 - Looking downstream from the suspension bridge as of late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_156_11292017 - The final stretch of the Montezuma Falls Track beyond the suspension bridge junction towards the waterfall's base as seen in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_168_11292017 - Finally making it to the base of Montezuma Falls on my late November 2017 visit
Montezuma_Falls_17_213_11292017 - I did see quite a few hikers coming to Montezuma Falls while I was wrapping up my hike in late November 2017, where I pretty much didn't see another soul (except for some folks breaking camp at the trailhead) until I was on my way out
Montezuma_Falls_17_218_11292017 - Back at a trail junction at the very end of my Montezuma Falls hike during my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_17_222_11292017 - I did make use of this pit toilet shed before returning to the car park just a few paces further at the end of my late November 2017 hike
Montezuma_Falls_17_225_11292017 - Picnic tables at the trailhead for Montezuma Falls seen at the end of my visit in late November 2017
Montezuma_Falls_006_jx_11272006 - Trailhead sign telling us what would be required to visit Montezuma Falls during our November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_007_jx_11272006 - Looking back at a nice little picnic area by the car park for the Montezuma Falls Track as seen during our November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_008_jx_11272006 - Continuing to follow the signs to embark on the Montezuma Falls hike on our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_001_11272006 - Julie on the wide track to Montezuma Falls during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_002_11272006 - We saw this little snake along the Montezuma Falls Track somewhere near the half-way point on our first time doing this hike back in November 2006. You never know who or what you might encounter in Nature
Montezuma_Falls_014_jx_11272006 - Even though it was warm and sunny during our visit in late November 2006, the Montezuma Falls Track was still flanked by ferns suggesting that this would ordinarily be an area of high rainfall
Montezuma_Falls_006_11272006 - Julie continuing to march ahead on the wide Montezuma Falls Track during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_018_jx_11272006 - That's me on the Montezuma Falls Track as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_021_jx_11272006 - At this point, the Montezuma Falls track narrowed even more so no motorized vehicles could continue as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_012_11272006 - Looking into one of the mine shafts alongside the Montezuma Falls Track as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_024_jx_11272006 - Same abandoned mine besides the Montezuma Falls Track during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_013_11272006 - Looking across the suspension bridge fronting the Montezuma Falls during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_021_11272006 - View of Montezuma Falls as seen from the suspension bridge during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_041_11272006 - Looking across the suspension bridge fronting Montezuma Falls from further down the trail on the other side of the gorge as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Montezuma_Falls_033_jx_11272006 - The suspension bridge was barely wide enough to accommodate the width of both of Julie's feet. Note how far down Avon Creek or Montezuma Creek was below the bridge
Montezuma_Falls_061_11272006 - On our first visit back in late November 2006, we were joined by another bushwalker who caught up to us and wanted to get a closer look at Montezuma Falls
Montezuma_Falls_036_jx_11272006 - Heading back along the Montezuma Falls Track during our visit in late November 2006

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We drove to Montezuma Falls from two different approaches – one from Cradle Valley and another from Queenstown.

Even though Rosebery, Zeehan, and other mining towns were closer to the falls, I’ll just focus on the route we’ve taken since I’d imagine most people would have similar itineraries.

I’ll start with the driving route from Queenstown first since that was the closest of the towns we drove from.

Driving from Queenstown to Montezuma Falls

From Queenstown, we drove north on the A10 which started off as the Lyell Highway then became the Zeehan Highway after passing by the B24 road junction in 3.4km.

We remained on the A10 for about 52km, when we reached the signposted turnoff for Montezuma Falls.

It was on the mostly unsealed Williamsford Rd just to our right and shortly before entering the town of Rosebery.

Montezuma_Falls_17_001_11292017 - The Montezuma Falls car park
The Montezuma Falls car park

We then followed the Williamsford Rd for the remaining 6km to its end, where the car park was.

At each fork in the road, signs kept us on the right track.

Overall, this drive took us on the order of an hour or so.

Driving from Cradle Valley to Montezuma Falls

From the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre in Cradle Valley, we drove north on Cradle Mountain Rd for about 3km, then turned left onto Belvoir Rd (C132).

After about 26km on Belvoir Rd (C132), we then turned left onto the Murchison Highway (A10).

We then drove south for about 40km on the Murchsin Hwy (A10) through the town of Rosebery, and then onto Williamsford Rd on our left (shortly after passing through most of the town).

Montezuma_Falls_17_224_11292017 - Context of cars parked in parallel for the Montezuma Falls hike
Context of cars parked in parallel for the Montezuma Falls hike

Once on the unsealed Williamsford Rd, we then took it to the car park at its end as described above.

Overall, this drive took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

To give you 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.

Checking out the falls and the downstream scenery from the swinging bridge


Examining the falls from the viewing deck and a little closer to the base


Sweep of the falls to the suspension bridge. The camera couldn't seem to focus since the dropoff was so far down from the bridge. This was taken on our first visit back in late November 2006

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Tagged with: west coast, zeehan, rosebery, waratah, tasmania, tallest, highest, mining, australia, waterfall, queenstown, strahan, burnie, dundas, tramway, williamsford



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Montezuma Falls History October 27, 2015 4:43 am by Peter - Just an update for you on Montezuma Falls Tasmania. The track below the waterfall was once a railway line used to haul ore from the Williamsford mine. Historically interesting because it operated the worlds first Garratt articulated steam locomotives. Hope that's of interest even though your focus is the waterfalls. ...Read More
Top 10 Tasmanian waterfalls May 22, 2015 10:42 am by Caedence Kuepper - I have visited quite a few waterfalls in Tasmania (roughly 45-50) and I thought that it was about time that I compiled a top 10 list based on the falls that I have seen. 10. WARATAH FALLS Waratah Falls is an impressive 40-odd metre high waterfall that I enjoyed for a couple of reasons. Firstly,… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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