Waratah Falls

North West / Waratah, Tasmania, Australia

About Waratah Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside; 800m round trip (to base)
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes (to base)

Date first visited: 2006-11-27
Date last visited: 2017-12-02

Waterfall Latitude: -41.44359
Waterfall Longitude: 145.52917

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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.

Waratah_Falls_17_056_12012017 - Waratah Falls
Waratah Falls

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.

It 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.

Waratah_Falls_015_11262006 - Waratah Falls as seen during our first visit back in late November 2006
Waratah Falls as seen during our first visit back in late November 2006

We managed to experience the waterfall in two different ways.

Experiencing Waratah Falls from a lookout west of the Waratah River

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 backed by the town itself perched atop the cliffs.

In each of our visits, we happened to see blooming wildflowers lining the foreground.

Waratah_Falls_17_015_12012017 - Context of the gazeebo and the Main Street Lookout during our December 2017 visit
Context of the gazeebo and the Main Street Lookout during our December 2017 visit

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.

Experiencing Waratah Falls from its base

The observation of there being a track going to the base of Waratah Falls led us to this second way we experienced this waterfall.

We were able to access 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).

Waratah_Falls_17_040_12012017 - Following the gravel track descending to the base of Waratah Falls
Following the gravel track descending to the base of Waratah Falls

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.

Waratah_Falls_17_067_12012017 - This unsightly mess must have been the mine at Mt Bischoff (the original name of the town of Waratah), which I noticed while walking to the base of Waratah Falls
This unsightly mess must have been the mine at Mt Bischoff (the original name of the town of Waratah), which I noticed while walking to the base of Waratah Falls

I’d imagine that scar in the landscape was Mt Bischoff along with the Mt Bischoff mine.

When I got back to the car, I had only spent about 20 minutes away from it.

Authorities

Waratah Falls resides in the town of Waratah, Tasmania. It is administered by the Waratah-Wynyard Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Waratah_Falls_17_008_12012017 - Focused on the full context of Waratah Falls surrounded by flowers in bloom with the Waratah town further upstream as seen during our December 2017 visit. Notice the track on the left side of this photo, which gave us the idea that we could hike to the waterfall's bottom
Waratah_Falls_17_010_12012017 - Contextual look at Waratah Falls and the path leading to its base as seen from the lookout on Main Street during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_011_12012017 - More zoomed in look at the path leading to the base of Waratah Falls as seen from the lookout on Main Street during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_013_12012017 - Looking downstream from Waratah Falls as seen at the lookout on Main Street during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_016_12012017 - More focused look at Waratah Falls as seen from the lookout on Main Street during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_021_12012017 - Wide open look downstream from the Main Street Lookout of Waratah Falls during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_024_12012017 - Zoomed in look at the impressive Waratah Falls as seen from the Main Street Lookout in December 2017
Waratah_Falls_17_027_12012017 - This was the Dudley Kenworthy Wheel above Waratah Falls, which was the main mechanism for converting water power to electricity before more advanced means of this conversion were widespread. This was shot in December 2017
Waratah_Falls_17_030_12012017 - Looking upstream at a bridge over the Waratah River from the relics at the top of Waratah Falls as seen during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_032_12012017 - Starting on the walk to the bottom of Waratah Falls from Annie St during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_036_12012017 - As I walked to the bottom of Waratah Falls, I noticed a denuded mountain up ahead, which I believe was Mt Bischoff. This was seen during my December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_038_12012017 - On the descending gravel track going below the town to the base of Waratah Falls on my December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_043_12012017 - Closeup look at some of the blooming wildflowers along the track to the bottom of Waratah Falls during my December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_044_12012017 - Making it to the bottom of Waratah Falls with a floodlight pointed right at it as seen during my December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_048_12012017 - Directly in front of Waratah Falls at its base as seen in December 2017
Waratah_Falls_17_061_12012017 - Starting the hike back up to the town of Waratah after having had my fill of the base of Waratah Falls in December 2017
Waratah_Falls_17_063_12012017 - Looking back at Waratah Falls in the distance as I hiked back up to the car during my December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_17_066_12012017 - As I was hiking back up from Waratah Falls during my December 2017 visit, I noticed some berries growing alongside the track
Waratah_Falls_17_079_12012017 - Looking in the distance towards an attractive pond or lake in the town of Waratah after having had our fill of the waterfall during our December 2017 visit
Waratah_Falls_002_11262006 - This was the Main Street Lookout of Waratah Falls during our first visit back in late November 2006. Notice the interpretive sign was not there back then
Waratah_Falls_003_11262006 - Watching Julie checking out Waratah Falls during our first visit back in late November 2006
Waratah_Falls_006_11262006 - Broad contextual view of Waratah Falls and the town above it as seen on a nice sunny afternoon in late November 2006
Waratah_Falls_006_jx_11262006 - It turned out that these funky flowers seen on our late November 2006 visit were waratahs, which this town was named after.  These are endemic to Australia
Waratah_Falls_012_11262006 - Closer look at the impressive Waratah Falls during our late November 2006 visit
Waratah_Falls_011_jx_11262006 - This was the Dudley-Kenworthy Wheel as seen during our late November 2006 visit
Waratah_Falls_012_jx_11262006 - Looking upstream from Waratah Falls towards a bridge on our late November 2006 visit. It was said that this was a platypus viewing area
Waratah_Falls_014_jx_11262006 - Looking back at Philosopher Smith's Hut during our late November 2006 visit. The resident was James 'The Philosopher' Smith who was credited with the discovery of tin at Mt Bischoff in 1871

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Waratah Falls was right in the town of Waratah.

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.

Waratah_Falls_17_034_12012017 - Parking alongside a grassy area on Annie St to do the short walk to the base of Waratah Falls
Parking alongside a grassy area on Annie St to do the short walk to the base of Waratah Falls

For the option to view the waterfall from 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.

Left to right sweep of the falls from the viewing area


View from the base of the falls


Fixated on the falls

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Tagged with: waratah, north west, wynyard, braddon, dudley, kenworthy, waterwheel, electricity, hydroelectricity, bischoff, reservoir, tasmania, australia, waterfall



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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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