Horsetail Falls ("Queenstown Falls")

Queenstown / Gormanston, Tasmania, Australia

About Horsetail Falls (“Queenstown Falls”)


Hiking Distance: 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2006-11-29
Date last visited: 2017-11-29

Waterfall Latitude: -42.08175
Waterfall Longitude: 145.59224

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Before locals had informed me that this waterfall was actually called Horsetail Falls, I made up the name “Queenstown Falls”.

We stumbled upon this very attractive waterfall when we were driving along the Lyell Highway east of Queenstown.

Queenstown_002_11282006 - Horsetail Falls
Horsetail Falls

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.

Thus, I’d consider this to be more of an afternoon waterfall.

Fickle Flow of Horsetail Falls

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_035_11282017 - The light-flowing Horsetail Falls when we saw it on a hot day in late November 2017
The light-flowing Horsetail Falls when we saw it on a hot day in late November 2017

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.

As a result, during that second visit, the falls was much thinner and less impressive than on that first visit.

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_051_11282017 - All zoomed in on the flowing part of Horsetail Falls as seen in late November 2017
All zoomed in on the flowing part of Horsetail Falls as seen in late November 2017

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.

Its longevity would be increased the more often the succession of rain storms occur, and you can’t wait for too long after the last of those rain storms.

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.

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_001_11282017 - Trailhead signage for Horsetail Falls as seen on our November 2017 visit, which was definitely something we hadn't noticed on our first visit back in November 2006
Trailhead signage for Horsetail Falls as seen on our November 2017 visit, which was definitely something we hadn’t noticed on our first visit back in November 2006

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.

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_081_11282017 - Looking back at the Horsetail Falls Track. Note the yellow lines, which you really had to pay attention to or else you'll miss that step!
Looking back at the Horsetail Falls Track. Note the yellow lines, which you really had to pay attention to or else you’ll miss that step!

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.

Authorities

Horsetail Falls resides near Queenstown, 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.

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_006_11282017 - Julie starting on the hot and unshaded track to Horsetail Falls during our November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_008_11282017 - Julie continuing along the hot and unshaded walk to the lookout for Horsetail Falls during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_011_11282017 - Julie approaching the part where the Horsetail Falls Track where it started to transition from gravel to metal during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_021_11282017 - Looking down towards the Moore Creek Drainage and the Lyell Highway from the Horsetail Falls Track during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_026_11282017 - Continuing along the Horsetail Falls Track before it started to bend during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_028_11282017 - One thing I had to watch out for on the Horsetail Falls Track during my November 2017 visit were these steps. While they weren't much of an issue on the way up, on the way down, these steps blended in with the walking track and it was easy to miss them when going downhill!
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_034_11282017 - Julie further ahead on the Horsetail Falls Track as she sought to improve her views of the thinly-flowing Horsetail Falls during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_038_11282017 - Context of Julie checking out Horsetail Falls from perhaps the best viewpoint during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_042_11282017 - After having her fill of Horsetail Falls, Julie started heading back to the car park on our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_046_11282017 - Broad view of Horsetail Falls beneath what I think was Mt Owen as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_055_11282017 - The Horsetail Falls Track kept climbing beyond the best viewing spots as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_062_11282017 - This was the view of Horsetail Falls from the end of the sanctioned track during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_063_11282017 - Looking back at the Horsetail Falls Track from the end of its track during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_071_11282017 - Another contextual look back at the Horsetail Falls Track towards the Lyell Highway and the denuded mountains surrounding Queenstown as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_089_11282017 - Looking back towards the Horsetail Falls while it's barely visible against the purplish rocks as seen during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_092_11282017 - More contextual look back at Horsetail Falls in very low flow during our visit in late November 2017
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_102_11282017 - Looking back towards the Lyell Highway on our return walk from Horsetail Falls during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_103_11282017 - As I was heading back to the Horsetail Falls car park, I had to pay attention to the yellow lines and watch my step to avoid a stumble and fall during my late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_109_11282017 - Returning to the car park for Horsetail Falls during our late November 2017 visit
Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_112_11282017 - Making it back to the signed car park for Horsetail Falls at the end of our visit in late November 2017
Queenstown_001_11282006 - A fully zoomed in look at Horsetail Falls in good flow in late November 2006
Queenstown_005_11282006 - On our first visit in late November 2006, we managed to get a contextual view of Horsetail Falls from the Lyell Highway
Queenstown_005_jx_11282006 - Some plaque near the Iron Blow Open Cut sign commemorating someone relevant to this area during our late November 2006 visit
Queenstown_004_jx_11282006 - This was the Iron Blow Open Cut sign about 1km further up the mountain from where we saw Horsetail Falls. I didn't recall seeing Horsetail Falls signage during our November 2006 visit

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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).

Horsetail_Falls_QT_17_002_11282017 - The car park for the Horsetail Falls Track
The car park for the Horsetail Falls Track

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.

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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Tagged with: west coast, queenstown, strahan, horsetail, gormanston, tasmania, australia, waterfall, iron blow, open cut, karlsons gap, moore creek



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Horse Tail Falls near Queenstown May 31, 2009 12:25 am by _Anonymous8 - 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 than half a day to start flowing, and continues for a day after. There is a short walking track to the top, which is lovely… ...Read More
Horsetail Falls October 9, 2008 1:54 am by Margie - 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, most times there is water going over it but on other occasions there is none. The road coming out of Queenstown, named 99 bends by locals, hides… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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