About Horsetail Falls (“Queenstown Falls”)
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.
The New Track to Horsetail Falls
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.
Fickle Flow of Horsetail Falls
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.
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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